This question is a bone of contention amongst many cat-lovers. Some feel that cats ought to be able to roam independently and not kept cooped up indoors, whilst others believe that the risk of allowing their cats outdoors (and the possible nuisance caused to their neighbours) makes it necessary or preferable to keep them inside.
There are pros and cons of either preference.
Keeping a cat indoors will mean:
- Having to maintain and clean adequate cat litter facilities which can quickly become smelly, and leave bits of litter here, there and everywhere.
- Risking the destruction of furniture as substitutions for scratching-posts (since shop-bought scratching posts don’t seem to hold the same appeal for a cat as a really nice piece of wood attached to, say, a table or sofa).
- Not having to worry about the cat being injured in an accident on the road.
- Not having to administer flea and worm treatments.
- Not having to have the cat vaccinated.*
- Possibly having to put your cat on a diet, with accompanying shame at the vet’s office (house cats don’t exercise as much and if they are good at sneaking food treats on top of their meals they will put on weight.
*provided that no other pet in the house is allowed outdoors;
On the other hand, allowing your cat to go outside will mean:
- You will need to regularly update their flea and worm treatments (which can be expensive).
- You will need to keep your cat vaccinated.
- You will be brought ‘presents’ of varying degrees of disgustingness.
- Your neighbours might hate you for allowing your cat to use their garden as a toilet.
- Your cat might be injured on the road (especially if you live near a busy road or junction) or in a fight with another animal – expensive to resolve if you don’t have pet insurance.
- Your cat might get pregnant if not spayed.
- Your cat might be exposed to poisons, bites or stings from outside.
These are factors that influence us on a practical basis and are important to consider when deciding whether or not to let your cat out. However, there will be other, more personal factors like what the cat’s temperament is like. If they are forever clawing at the door or meowing loudly at the window making threats at passing birds, it may prove impossible to ignore their desire to go outside. On the other hand, if you have to scoop them off the sofa and physically eject them from the house hissing and scratching it might be that an indoor life will suit them better.
Perhaps the funniest thing about this question is that even when all important factors have been taken into consideration, the decision about whether your pet cat will be kept indoors or not will be decided….by the cat.