Should You Keep Your Cat Indoors?

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.


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).


  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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