Inside-Out Cats

Your cat's natural instincts make him want to explore outdoors, but vehicles and predators can end his life early. Here's why you should keep him inside.

By Sharon Ulrich | Posted: Tue May 3 00:00:00 PDT 2005

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Keeping a keen eye on your cat can be a life saver.Warm weather is around the corner and everyone is eager to get outside after enduring months of winter weather. The sun shining through the patio window beckons your cat, and singing songbirds drive your feline into a frenzy.

Inevitably, the front door will become a battleground and your cat will begin to view you as a frustrating obstacle to overcome before gaining access to the great outdoors.

But remember there is more on the other side of the door than budding trees and clean air. Keeping your cat indoors, or allowing only supervised jaunts outside, will protect it from injury, illness and possible death.

The most common injuries to outdoor cats that we treat at the clinic are the result of hit-by-car trauma, says Kim Friedenberg, DVM, of Alpine Veterinary Medical Centre in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.

Barb Harris, former animal shelter administrator for Humane Society-Yukon reports that the No. 1 stray cat injury that the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter encounters is puncture wounds from dogs or other predators.

But each jurisdiction has different hazards, and even if your cat is lucky enough to escape the neighborhood predators and vehicles, Friedenberg warns that outdoor cats are exposed to disease, parasites, accidental poisoning, frostbite, heatstroke and cat fights. 

Despite the sometimes pitiful, and often outraged, demands of our furry friends to be let outside, there are many ways to keep your mighty explorer both happy and safe.
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Reader Comments

James    Cincinnati, OH

3/14/2014 9:17:12 PM

There is strong evidence to support keeping most cats indoors all the time. Beyond the issue of protecting their health, indoor only cats live to be much older than their outdoor peers. Our cat Willy was an indoor-outdoor cat when we adopted him from the shelter about 10 years ago. To allow him a bit of an outdoor life, we got him a cat window patio from these guys about three years ago: LINK We also started walking him on a leash recently after reading a blog entry on this same site that gave step by step instructions for getting started. Check it out if you think it's something your indoor cat(s) might like.

Rosemarie    International

1/11/2014 2:59:23 AM

We have 4 indoor cats all rescured. The only time they meow at the door is when we are sitting on the deck. They get all of the stimulation they need during play time with toys and their house mates. We treat them like little people and talk to them as if they understand what we are saying. They meow back sometimes which keeps us talking to them. What I'm trying to say is that we make them part of the family. We do not treat them like blobs of fur.

William    Lexington, KY

12/3/2013 4:24:53 PM

I know it's hard for many folks to keep their felines indoors when they so much want and even DEMAND to go out, but the author is correct--it's dangerous to let a cat outside on their own.

I do have a couple of suggestions for indoor cat owners. First off, Cats With An Altitude Crafts makes a window cat patio that fits in the window like an air conditioner, and can be left in year round in most locations. Also, I have a recent blog post where I provide an in-depth "how-to" piece on how to train your indoor cat to walk outside on a leash. Check it out here: LINK

Lisa    Ludlow, MA

8/20/2013 10:24:37 AM

Very good article. Every cat owner should read this. A lot of people still let their cats outdoors and mistakenly think that they have to in order for their cat to be happy.

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