Pet Health

Indoor vs Outdoor Cats - The Great Debate

When you first adopt your kitten or adult cat it is best to decide from the very beginning whether you would like to keep them indoors or allow them to roam. Making the decision early in their life means you can prepare them for an outdoor life with the appropriate vaccinations and parasite prevention or help them adjust easily to an indoor lifestyle through diet choice, housing and litter options.

Kittens adjust well to an indoor lifestyle and if never allowed to roam freely will be used to being confined to your home. Newly adopted adult cats may take some time to transition to becoming an indoor cat, however they should always be kept inside during the settling-in period to stop them from running off or becoming lost.

There are several benefits and drawbacks for an indoor or outdoor lifestyle for cats. Outdoor cats while very mentally and physically stimulated are exposed to many more risks than indoor cats and consequently have a much shorter lifespan of 5 years on average. Indoor cats  live considerably longer, up to 18 years as they have much less exposure to infectious disease and trauma.

The biggest risks posing outdoor cats include:

being hit or run over by a car
being attacked by a dog
fighting with neighbourhood cats
contracting Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) from stray or neighbourhood cats
picking up deadly paralysis ticks
being bitten by venomous snakes
eating poisonous baits intended for other animals
increased UV exposure leading to skin cancer

Some of these risks can be reduced by ensuring your cat is vaccinated against FIV and is regularly treated with parasite prevention. Outdoor cats as well as indoor cats should also be desexed and have a microchip with up to date contact information.

Most of the risks facing outdoor cats are out of the control of the owner particularly as many cats have quite a large roaming territory. Recent studies by the National Geographic tracked domestic cats travelling as far as 1.2km from their home base. Even if you think your cat only spends time in your backyard if tracked you may be shocked to see how far they travel!

Outdoor cats also pose a serious threat to native wildlife. ccording to a recent study from ornithologist John Woinarski from Charles Darwin University cats in Australia kill more than a million birds a day. This is catastrophic to the survival of some endangered Australian native species.

Indoor cats live longer safer lives than outdoor cats. They tend to be more affectionate as they bond strongly with their owners. however if not properly cared for they can be prone to boredom, obesity and anxiety. These issues can be managed or prevented with appropriate diet, play and providing all the necessary items to meet your needs.

For more information about how to keep your indoor cat happy and healthy please click the link below:

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140807-cat-tracker-pets-animals-science-gps/

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-04/cats-killing-one-million-birds-in-australia-every-day-estimates/9013960

Written by Dr Emma Chester BVSc(Hons) © Northgate Veterinary Surgery Queensland 2019

Posted in: Pet Health at 10 July 19