Thoughts for Thursday – Indoor versus Outdoor Cats

I know we cover this topic every once in a while. Most of you know that we keep our cats inside. The last cat we had that went in and out was Dinah. We adopted her from a local shelter when she was almost a year old and she refused—I mean REFUSED—to use the litter box. She had to be let out even in the rain. While our other two cats were indoor-only cats, Dinah had outdoor privileges during the day. She didn’t spend a lot of time outside, but she’d go out to garden with me and, as I said, she pottied outside. I have to say she never had an accident inside. That wasn’t the problem. She just held it and begged at the door until someone let her out. Never once did I see her use the litter box in the few years we had her before she died of a brain tumor.

Why did I decide to keep our cats inside? We were experiencing too many problems—fleas (before there were the excellent flea products available). However, some of my cats could not tolerate the flea products—another problem. When we were allowing our cats to go outside, we lost cats to cars, predators, poisoning, and disease. Sure, our inside cats died too, but most lived to ripe old ages.

Another argument for keeping a cat inside and close is that you’re more apt to catch a health issue early enough to treat it. A cat will often hide out when she isn’t feeling well. If she lives inside it’s much easier to monitor her health on a daily or even hour-by-hour basis.

Here’s a site giving just five reasons for keeping your cat indoors. I’m sure some of you can think of more. For example, there are dangers out and about—cats get inadvertently closed into sheds and garages, people and other domestic animals can be a danger to a cat, especially if the cat is infringing on their property or lifestyle. A birder isn’t going to tolerate a cat stalking the birds they feed. Other outdoor cats can be territorial—something your cat might not understand or respect. Injuries from cat fights can be deadly. People without cats don’t appreciate your cat using their garden as a litter box and might retaliate. I’ve known of some who will trap neighborhood cats and haul them to a desolate area to turn them loose. You sure don’t want that to happen to your Fluffy, Ginger, or Tom.

Speaking of Tom, an outdoor cat that is not spayed or neutered could be responsible for litter after litter of kittens that no one wants and that are ultimately left to fend for themselves or worse.

It takes some strategy to maintain happy indoor cats and to keep peace within the household. It boils down to plenty of enrichment for the cats—especially kittens. And perhaps a higher tolerance and a lower expectation for your belongings. Yeah, there will be cat hair and maybe some inappropriate clawing. But there are apps for learning how to handle those issues. That’s for another post.

As a postscript, one of the cats in this picture of the two cats peering out from the tropical plants was hit by a car this year and killed, leaving his very dependent sibling to fend for herself. These are throw away cats that a local chiropractor had taken under her wing–offering what shelter they would accept out of doors and close to her office.

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