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.