If you’ve been a friend of The Village Pets for a while now, you know that our best friend, Lu the grey kitty cat queen, is an indoor/outdoor cat who occasionally ventures outside during the day, but always sleeps indoors. She loves to romp around in the garden, sit on top of the brand new VP Pet Taxi and greet clients when they drop their fur balls off for daycare and boarding.
If you’re curious about the potential for your indoor cat to explore the great outdoors, take a second to read on about some potential benefits, risks, and helpful hints.
Cats that spend some (or all) of their time outdoors face lots of risks, including cars, bacteria and other bugs, toxins, and larger predators. Some studies also argue that cats are an invasive species and have threatened other native wildlife species because they hunt and kill animals that are vital parts of the ecosystem.
While these risks will always be present, the benefits of letting an indoor cat outdoors for a short amount of time can be really great: they get back to their roots and can hunt, climb, and play; and they get physical and mental stimulation that helps reduce anxiety and stress. That’s what Lu loves – she loves watching the tiny chipmunks and birds flutter by and she also really loves romping in the fresh garden soil.
As with most articles we post here, there are lots of things to consider about your personal circumstances before making any decisions.
- Talk to your vet about what additional vaccines and prevention methods might be necessary to support their health and well-being.
- Get an escape-proof cat harness and leash and walk them like a pup. You can also use this to take them for a picnic or just some outside lounging time. It keeps them safe and close by but still offers some of that additional stimulation we talked about above.
- Carefully consider letting your cat outdoors if they partially or fully-declawed. While it’s common for indoor cat owners to declaw their feline friends, claws are a natural first-line of defence and can be critical to the safety of a cat who spends time outdoors.
- If you do decide to let your cat venture outdoors, keep in mind that their eating and waste disposal habits might change. Keep an eye on their behavior and track any changes. Ultimately, if their behavior changes too drastically, it might be better to keep them indoors.
- If you’d like the outdoor feel but do not want to let them fully outside, you could opt for an indoor/outdoor cat enclosure that keeps them fully enclosed during outside activity time.
- If you do need to keep your cat indoors, be sure to incorporate play and stimulation into their routine to avoid boredom and anxiety. Unwanted behaviors often stem from a lack of stimulation, which can be easily avoided with play using things like laser pointers or other common cat toys. (Shoe strings are a great free option too!)
The conclusion: some cats are more well-suited for indoor life while others might enjoy a little bit of outside time. Make sure to fully evaluate your lifestyle, living environment, and the health of your cat before making any decisions. And as always, consult your vet for personalized advice.