The Differences Between Indoor & Outdoor Cats

Cats are popular pets because they are so easy to care for. Provide them with a daily supply of food and fresh water and empty their litter pan out regularly, and cats will pretty much take care of everything else.

But while cats might be domesticated pets, they retain many of the skills that make them such formidable hunters in the wild, and for this reason, many people choose to allow their indoor cats to spend a lot of time outdoors. In some cases, a cat might even be kept outdoors all the time.

With so much freedom and opportunities to explore, you may think your cat loves spending time outside, and you would be correct, but is this really the best living situation for your cat? Here are some important differences between indoor cats vs outdoor cats you might want to think about before you let your cat outside for some unsupervised fun.

Indoor Cats vs Outdoor Cats: Health and Longevity

One of the most startling differences between indoor cats and outdoor cats is their average life expectancy . Cats that live the entirety of their lives indoors can often live as old as 15 to 20 years. But, take that same cat and have her live outside and her life expectancy drops all the way down to 2 to 5 years.

There are more than a few reasons as to why outdoor cats live such short lives, the most common being:

  • Outdoor cats are more likely to contract potentially deadly diseases like feline leukemia (FeLV), feline AIDS (FIV), FIP (feline infectious peritonitis), feline distemper (panleukopenia) and upper respiratory infections (or URI)
  • Outdoor cats are more likely to pick up parasites like fleas, ticks, ear mites, intestinal worms, and ringworm
  • Outdoor cats are often struck and killed by vehicles because cats do not have an inbred ability to avoid cars
  • Outdoor cats are more likely to ingest toxic materials like antifreeze
  • Outdoor cats often fall victim to other predatory animals
  • Outdoor cats can often find themselves tangled in traps or stuck high in trees without any way to get down
  • Outdoor cats are exposed to the elements, including drastically hot and cold temperatures, and this can take a toll on their overall health

It is also important to note that while a domesticated cat might retain many of their “wild skills,” it is far from being a wild cat. Domestic cats are pets that have become used to living a life of convenience and comfort, and as such, this makes them far less able to care for themselves outdoors.

Are There Benefits to Taking Your Indoor Cat Outside?

In some cases, even an indoor cat might want to venture outside for some fresh air or to curl up in the warm sunshine, and this is perfectly okay – as long as you follow proper safety measures. For starters, if you plan on taking your indoor cat outside, you should make sure she is fully vaccinated and microchipped.

You should also employ some type of system that will help prevent your cat from running away. Such solutions can range from using a cat harness or backpack carrier to using an outdoor tent or “catio,” or cat fence. And you should never leave your cat outside unattended.

Follow these simple tips and your house cat will be able to enjoy the best of both worlds in safety.

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