IS IT CRUEL TO KEEP CATS INDOORS?
Protection from environmental pressures
Safety from predators and competitors
Consistent shelter, unaffected by the usual ebb and flow of natural resources in the wild
Reduced pressure (and danger) from defending territory.
Note: Of course, your cat will still "defend" its territory in the house with behaviors like scratching. However, this is significantly less taxing than patrolling, marking, and potentially fighting for an outdoor area.
It's important to consider all these points and recognize that it is not cruel to provide your cat an indoor home. In fact, doing so is essential to their health, safety, and longevity. Unfortunately, many people still feel that their cats belong outside since it is a larger space where they can hunt and kill at their leisure. While this may be enjoyable for a short time, it inevitably harms the cats' and other animals' life in the long run.
INDOOR VS OUTDOOR CATS: ARE INDOOR CATS AS HAPPY AS OUTDOOR CATS?
ENRICHMENT IDEAS FOR AN INDOOR CAT
If you're ever concerned about your cat's satisfaction with its indoor life, the answer is not to set it free outside but to find ways to enrich its life as-is. Here are a few ideas:
Provide scratching and climbing accessories. As mentioned above, scratching is a cat's way of marking its territory. It makes them feel confident and at-home. Further, climbing is an excellent form of exercise, allowing your cat to work off any pent-up energy and have a sense of adventure in the home. Scratching toys and posts are excellent outlets to encourage your cat to have fun without a single step outdoors.
- Invite your cat to play. Your cat might still want to express its "wild" side and exercise its hunting instinct. This is where interactive toys come in. Offering your cat responsive toys like flipping fish or rotating wands with birds or butterflies will definitely keep them entertained all throughout the day. If you prefer for your cat to play with you, consider something like a pop-up mice game. It'll keep you involved without making you the target of their swipes and pounces.
Give your indoor cat a few perches in the house. Cats love to sit up high and get an aerial view of their surroundings. When your kitty is not surveilling the household, it should have a perch by a window, too. This will allow for some exciting views, enabling your cat can keep an eye on those intriguing critters that zip across your yard or window each day.
Note: Strategically placing a bird feeder below or in front of a window is a great way to set up "Cat TV" for your fur-baby's entertainment.
Many people have convinced themselves and others that their indoor cat cannot live a fulfilling life if kept indoors. Yet, with these simple solutions, you can ensure that your kitty has such a good life that the thought to trek outside unsupervised and unleashed will never cross your or your cat's mind.
IS IT CRUEL TO KEEP A CAT OUTSIDE?
"Cruel" is a very strong word to define someone's decision to allow their cat outdoors. While many veterinary, biological, and ecological experts recommend against letting your cat outside unsupervised, it's not fair to claim that those who do it are causing intentional harm. Often, most people's justifications for keeping their cats outside include:
"I have a tall fence."
"My cat has more fun outside."
"My cat knows how to avoid cars."
"My cat is social."
"I don't want to clean the litter box."
From these statements alone, it's clear that the choice to let a cat outside generally comes from a good place. Still, this doesn't diminish the fact that it is a dangerous decision, one that has far more "cons" than "pros." For instance, the primary dangers cats will face when they're allowed outside unsupervised include:
Accidental poison or toxin ingestion (about 36% of cats consume liquids and solids that were not provided by their owners during their unsupervised time outside)
Getting lured into traps
Getting into fights with other animals (pets and wild animals)
Being harmed or stolen by another person
If there are so many dangers for domestic cats that go outside, what makes people want to let their cats out of the house? Despite the numerous risks presented by allowing your cat outside, there are some good things that some people base this decision on.
Can an Outdoor Cat be Happy and Healthy?
About the Author
Jazmin “Sunny” Murphy began writing informal scientific content on nature and animals in 2015. Four years later, she launched her freelance career as a digital content and copywriter. This work merges her academic perspective, rooted in her B.S. Zoology, and professional experience as a veterinary tech, university research assistant, and more with relevant marketing, SEO, and engagement techniques across various industries. Jazmin now covers pet care, pest control, cannabis, outdoor recreation, STEM research and news, and product reviews across several niches.
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