Cats are known as the perfect pets to take care of. They’re cuddly, they love attention and they don’t require too much time or energy from their owners. But when it comes down to choosing between indoor cats vs outdoor cats, which one is right for you?

The “difference between indoor and outdoor cats” is a very common question that many people have. The difference is that outdoor cats are more active, but they also get exposed to the sun and other environmental factors.

Dr. Justine Lee’s article was published on December 16, 2021.

DVM, DACVECC, DABT Justine Lee

Is it okay if I let my indoor cat out? Even veterinary specialists will argue over this, since it is one of the most contentious issues. (Keep in mind that the majority of small animal doctors recommend keeping cats inside.) When it comes to indoor vs. outdoor cats, both sides are certain about their positions. 

So, should cats be allowed to roam outside? I can see it from both perspectives as a veterinarian and a cat mom. Cats that go outdoors receive greater exercise and are exposed to more diverse environments. However, as an emergency critical care veterinary expert, I will agree that the indoor/outdoor status of a cat causes a lot more medical issues in the ER. What’s the bottom line? Cats that go outdoors are more vulnerable to damage or injury.

Cats that live inside contrasted. cats that live outside

Let’s start by defining “going outside.” Your cat is classified as an indoor/outdoor cat if he or she goes outdoors at all. I know it seems obvious, but I’m always surprised when people tell me their cat is only allowed inside… “Well, he gets outdoors for 10 minutes a day,” they say when I ask a few more questions. That’s how we describe indoor/outdoor living. 

Even if your cat spends 90-95 percent of its time inside, we vets need to know about the short amount of time it spends outside. Why? Because it has an impact on the way we care for your cat and the tests, immunizations, drugs, and treatments we utilize.

Should cats be allowed to roam freely in the open air?

I, for one, like to keep my pets inside. However, I reside in an urban area with a greater prevalence of trauma. Despite having a fenced-in backyard on a huge city lot, I’m still afraid of letting my cats out since they can easily leap and climb over our tall privacy fence. 

Obviously, whether you choose to keep indoor or outdoor cats is a highly personal choice. Please consider the following crucial factors:

It’s all about the setting.

Where you reside has a lot to do with whether or not you should allow your cat outdoors. If you live in the middle of the city, there’s a good chance your cat may suffer some kind of trauma. The danger of trauma is substantially lower if you live on a peaceful dead end in the suburbs.

Commitment

Your cat will sprint out the door as soon as you open it after you’ve given them a taste of the vast outdoors. As a result, I attempt to keep my cats from experiencing “freedom” in the first place! You’ll end up opening and shutting the door all the time if you don’t. And your cat is always begging to be let out. Trying to convert your cat to an indoor-only cat after that is more challenging.

Concerns about your health

If your cat is declawed, he or she will be unable to defend themselves in the event of a cat fight or dog attack. It’s also not worth the danger if your cat’s eyesight or hearing has deteriorated. And if your cat already has a life-threatening infectious blood condition such as FeLV or FIV, please, please, please keep them inside so you don’t infect other people’s cats!

Provide the greatest possible indoor environment for your cat.

bengal cat on top of cat tower looking outside through a window

Cats, believe it or not, can be quite fine inside. The most important thing is to ensure that each cat in your home has access to environmental enrichment. Remember how I said that cats that go outdoors receive greater exercise and exposure to new environments? You can do the same thing with indoor vs. outdoor cats! This covers elements such as the ideal living space, such as: 

  • A stress-free, secure environment to dine and drink
  • Stimulation of the eyes (a cat tree to look outside on)
  • There are many of cat-friendly, cat-safe toys available.
  • Chewing grass for cats
  • a sufficient quantity of litter boxes (or one automatic Litter-Robot per 4 cats in the household)
  • There is plenty of fresh water in a variety of locales.
  • 5 minutes of fun twice a day, please!)

Depending on how many cats you have, you’ll want to be able to supply supplies for each one, which may need a large amount of space. 

Follow these guidelines if your cat ventures outdoors.

If you really want your cat to enjoy the big outdoors, make sure you follow these guidelines (shall I say “rules”?).

  • Make sure your cat is wearing a breakaway collar with a bell and an ID tag in case they become separated. Also, make sure they’re microchipped, since this is something you only have to do once in their lives! 
  • Make sure your cat has had all of its feline immunizations, including the feline leukemia (FeLV) vaccine and rabies vaccine (e.g., FVRCP). This also applies to the other cats in the home.
  • If your cat is exposed to a cat that goes outdoors, keep him on flea/tick and heartworm medicine, as well as any other cats in the home.
  • Keep an eye on your cat outdoors the whole time—that is, make sure you are outside with them and watching them.
  • Train your cat to walk on a leash and to be monitored at all times while they are outdoors.
  • Shake a treat container to call your cat inside, and you’ll be able to teach your cat to return when called. Choose something appealing that will make them want to rush home!
  • Allow your cat to go outdoors only while you’re at home, and only for short periods of time. Please do not attempt to complete this task in a single day.
  • Consider a “catio” or a cat net or tent that is enclosed.
  • No one likes their cat defecating in their yard, so provide a kitty litter box outdoors.
  • When your cat is outdoors, make sure your children’s sandbox is covered at all times. (After all, it does resemble a massive litter box!)
  • Please, no bird feeders. The American Bird Conservancy’s “ABC’s Cats Indoors program” includes excellent ideas on what you can do to help both species!

It’s ultimately up to you whether you want indoor or outdoor cats. And I applaud and affirm your decision! Simply consider all of the elements and ensure that your cat—and all of your other cats—are as safe as possible.

brown and white tabby cat walking outside - indoor vs outdoor cats

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The “indoor vs outdoor cat uk” is a question that many people ask themselves. Indoor cats are typically healthier and live longer than their outdoor counterparts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do vets recommend outdoor cats?

A: Veterinarians recommend that cats should be kept indoors to avoid the dangers of coming into contact with other animals, predators and even humans.

Do vets recommend indoor cats?

A: Indoor cats can still enjoy a healthy and happy life, however they are not able to run around as much. They also do not get the chance of playing outside with their friends like outdoor cats would be able to.

Is it better to have an indoor or outdoor cat?

A: Thats a tough question. If youre looking for a cat that will be out and about outside, more outdoor cats are recommended because they can fend off predators better than indoor cats. However, if your cat might have trouble adjusting to the outdoors or other animals in general due to their size and temperament, it is likely better for them to stay indoors!

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  • do indoor/outdoor cats live longer
  • benefits of outdoor cats
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