Should You Keep Your Cat Indoors?

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Should you keep you cat inside? Like, all the time?!

This question is a bone of contention among many cat-lovers. While some cat owners feel that cats ought to be able to roam independently and not be kept cooped up indoors, others believe the risks of allowing their cats outdoors (and the possible nuisance caused to their neighbors) makes it necessary or preferable to keep them inside.

As with most choices for pet owners, there are pros and cons for both preferences.

Keeping a cat inside will mean:

  • Having to maintain and clean adequate cat litter boxes which can quickly become smelly, and leave bits of litter here, there and everywhere.
  • Risking the destruction of furniture as substitutions for trees and outdoor options (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, provided there aren’t other pets.
  • Not having to have the cat vaccinated, maybe, depending on other pets and vet advice.
  • 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.

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 intersection) 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.

That’s not an exhaustive list, and your own list of pros and cons about letting tabby out the front door would depend heavily on your specific situation. There are certainly times when keeping your feline friend inside is the only real option (your neighbor has a very large, cat-hating dog and you definitely don’t want to put your little buddy in danger, for example). The factors that influence us, as cat lovers, on a practical basis are important to consider.

Then there are also 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 would likely suit them better.

As Any Cat Owner Will Tell You . . .

Ultimately, even when all of the important factors have been carefully taken into consideration, the decision about whether or not your cat will be kept exclusively indoors or not will likely be decided . . . . by the cat.

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About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi worked in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions. Retired, she currently lives with her spoiled dog and four chickens (who are, interestingly enough, also spoiled).

12 Comments

  1. My aunt has more or less 20 cats in her home. But just 3 of them stays inside the house, others are staying outside. To tell you honestly, I can’t stand the smell of their poops.

  2. Indoor kitties do just fine. I had 5 indoor kitties at a max and now have 3, 1 x 14yr old and 2 x 7mth old. They don’t care about not going outdoors and are very much cuddlier than my friends cats that do go outdoors.
    I would like to say however that you DO have to DEFLEA indoor cats. It’s very easy to bring a flea home on your clothing from friends with pets houses or even a dog you pet on the street.
    As far as scratching furniture, my kittens have been getting their claws clipped since I brought them home at 12wks… I started off very gently doing one or two when they were asleep and now they don’t even bother waking up when I clip their claws… a far nicer way to control scratching than declawing them.

  3. I never let my cat outside. I had declawed my cat to avoid scratching. Although my cat is always staring out windows, she is very scared whenever I take her out the house.

  4. Thanks for the info! I have two Himmies. One is 14, one is 15. They’re have brother and sister and both appear to have inherited the same heart condition. I was told two years ago “it could be a month… it could be a year.” Several people have told me that I should just let them outdoors to live the remainder of their lives free. Now I think I’ll just continue keeping them indoors.

  5. I have 3 indoor cats and sometimes it’s hard to clean up after every one of them. It is true that if it is not cleaned right away it does become smelly. But I love my babies so much , that the thought of letting them out and possibly getting hurt does not leave me if they want to go out, so I try to not let them out at all. The old one is 8 years old and she is use to going out to make her runs,so I can not stop her, but every time when she disappears for longer than couple hours, I am afraid for her life. I never thought about clipping my cat’s nails, but you guys gave me some great advice. The other two are Siamese and are really playful and still very young, you can imagine how they are treating my furniture:)

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