Cats are very independent and curious animals by nature; they love new adventures. Many people think that cats need open environments and freedom to be happy and to keep their wild instincts sharp.
Letting a cat go outside can be beneficial to their physical and emotional health, but at the same time it is important to be careful and be aware of the possible consequences it may bring. Many cat owners are afraid to let their pets go outside, especially if they live in the city.
Are you wondering whether it is bad to keep your cat at home? Our best answer is that your cat will benefit from a healthy balance. Keep reading this article where we’ll show you how to get to a point where your cat is happy and you can be calm.
Benefits of letting your cat outside
For domestic cats, going on an adventure once a day provides positive stimuli; it is like going to an amusement park. Furthermore, it helps them keep in good spirits: Climbing trees and branches, playing with mice and chasing insects, feeling the heat of the sunlight, taking a refreshing nap after the adventure… Of course your cat will feel refreshed after it!
Cats that are allowed to leave the house can be free to relieve themselves elsewhere with a more natural look and feel, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for owners to clean out their litterbox and buying sand so often.
It is true that domestic cats don’t have an extreme need to go outside; an indoors cat does not have to become a lazy and obese pet like Garfield if you provide a good diet, exercise and an interesting life in the warmth of your home. However, we cannot deny that cats like to go out and walk free without answering to anyone nor that they benefit from the physical activity and entertainment involved.
Do you think your cat should have its freedom to come and go whenever it wants? Perfect, but you have to take certain precautions first to protect it when it’s alone in “the wild”:
- Take your cat to the vet to check up on its health and make sure you’re up to date with the vaccination schedule for cats.
- If you let your cat out, it is very important that it is neutered or spayed. Cats roaming freely outside who have not received any contraceptive procedures contribute to unwanted pet breeding. The vast majority of the resulting kittens end up wandering the streets and abandoned.
- Put a collar on your cat. It should have an identification tag with your contact information.
- If you completely cut your cat’s nails – something some owners do but that is not at all healthy for the cat – you should not let it go outside, because it will not have sufficient capacity to defend itself against other animals.
- Get your cat microchipped. Many cats go in search of adventure but get lost in the attempt, and then they cannot find the way home again. The microchip will allow you to find and identify it.
Disadvantages of letting your cat out
All decisions you make regarding your pet will have a major effect on its life, whether it’s in the short or long term. Letting your cat out whenever it wants to could directly influence the life expectancy of your cat.
Cats living outdoors have a shorter life expectancy than cats living comfortably in a safe home because they are at risk of disease, accidents and fights with other animals. They are also at risk of being stolen and of being assaulted or attacked by strangers, and they may get poisoned.
Many cats living on the street carry diseases that they can transmit to your pet. Some may be severe or even fatal, without forgetting those that may be contracted due to rotten food and agents in the external environment. Among these infectious diseases we can find:
- Feline AIDS
- Feline leukemia
- Feline infectious peritonitis
- Feline distemper
- Fleas and ticks
- Intestinal worms
- Fungal infections
If you let your cat out, you must take special care in checking its coat regularly, keeping a close eye on possible symptoms of sickness or lesions, not missing any veterinary check-ups and grooming and brushing it well.
So, is it bad to keep your cat at home? It depends. There are many risk factors and also positive ones, and deciding whether one outweighs the other is your responsibility.