It can be hard to know whether your cat should stay inside all the time or if they should get a small taste of freedom. After all, it’s likely you’ve caught your sweet feline lazing by or staring inquisitively out the window for hours on end. As with anything, there are pros and cons to allowing your cats outside— and of course, your priority is keeping them safe.
Letting cats outdoors, especially unattended, can be dangerous. There’s the obvious risk of becoming injured, but there are other risks, such as:
- Internal and external parasites. Cats that roam outdoors on their own are more likely to come into contact with parasites such as fleas, ticks, roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms.
- Contracting an illness. Viruses like feline leukemia virus (FELV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are dangerous for cats that might come into contact with and even fight with other cats. While there is a vaccine for FELV, the FIV vaccine was pulled off the market due to several concerns.
- Becoming prey. Depending on where you live, your cat could become the prey of animals such as coyotes, eagles, owls, raccoons, otters, and dogs.
- Getting lost. It can be difficult for a kitty to find his way home if he ends up in an unfamiliar area.
- Getting bullied. A feline newbie on the block could get hurt by other territorial cats.
- Coming in contact with a poisonous plant or toxic substance. Many outdoor plants or chemicals used in lawns can sicken or kill small animals like cats.
With that said, there are some benefits to letting your cat outside now and then.
What Are the Benefits of Letting Your Cat Outside?
Lazing around the house all day may sound like the perfect day for you, but that’s not necessarily the case for your feline. Granted, there are plenty of ways to keep a cat entertained indoors, but if there are some benefits to be reaped from the great outdoors— safely, of course— why not give it a try? Some pros of venturing outside the house include:
- Healthier mind and body. The outside world is full of sights, sounds, and smells that can stimulate your cat’s mind in a way that indoor seclusion can’t quite match. With that stimulation, your cat is more likely to run and jump and climb, which is great for their physical health. The more mental and physical stimulation your cat receives, the happier and better behaved he tends to be.
- Chance to engage in instinctive behavior. The great outdoors allows your cat to connect with her wild side and engage in certain actions, such as climbing, scratching, and hunting freely, that are usually not permitted inside the house.
- Adaptability. Cats are creatures of habit and don’t always like change. If change occurs regularly in your life, then letting your cat become accustomed to going in and out of your house can help them become more flexible. A flexible cat is a cat that is less likely to be stressed.
Outdoor Adventuring is More Fun When It’s Safe
The ultimate goal, of course, is to help your cat to enjoy the outdoors safely. With solutions such as these, both you and your cat can feel more confident when facing the world outside.
While leash training is typically associated with dogs, it is also an option for cats! With some practice and patience, any cat can be trained to a harness and leash. In the beginning, it’s likely your cat will only want to lie around the yard while adjusting to their new cat harness and leash. But over time, your adventurous feline will be up for taking a walk with you.
Remember never to leave your cat leashed or tied up outside alone. There is simply too much danger of them becoming tangled up, with the possibility of choking.
Cat Stroller or Backpack
Pet strollers and pet backpacks are certainly unique ways to get your cat outdoors. Not only do strollers and bags give your feline a chance to enjoy the sunshine and breeze, but it also allows you to get out and exercise as well.
Catios or Other Outdoor Enclosures
A catio is a screened, escape-proof space that allows cats to experience the outdoors safely. In other words, a patio for cats. The nice thing about catios is that they can be small and straightforward or large and luxurious— it’s all about whatever works best for your home and your cat.
Remember, there are some good things about giving your indoor cat a taste of the outside world now and then. So when they seem to be yearning for the sunshine or the feel of the breeze in their fur, you now know some safe ways to give them some of the freedom they want.