Cats - Outdoor Life vs. Indoor Safety

Filed Under: Cats, General Care

While many cat owners consider their pets "outside cats," the fact is that cats kept indoors are much safer and healthier than their outdoor counterparts.

Free-roaming cats are bound to come in contact with other cats. Parasites, like fleas or ringworm, can be transmitted through these interactions, as well as communicable and infectious diseases—feline leukemia, feline infectious peritonitis, upper respiratory infections and even feline immunodeficiency virus.

Cats are territorial animals, and if challenged may fight to the death. If your cat roams free, he or she may not come directly home for you to take care of their wounds, which can lead to possibly deadly abscesses. Fighting is also a common way feline immunodeficiency virus is transferred among cats.

Aside from being careful around other cats, your cat will have to deal with possible attacks from wild cats, coyotes and wolves, raptors and owls, and, of course, dogs. It would be difficult for a domesticated cat to stand a chance against such larger and tougher predators.

An outdoor cat would also have to be very careful around roads, even quiet neighborhood or country roads. This is an additional danger for drivers who may get into accidents avoiding a cat in the road.

Neighborhood cats who roam free will eventually come in contact with less-than-tolerant neighbors—ones who may not appreciate cats considering their gardens giant litter boxes. There’s always the possibility of someone calling animal control to pick up your cat.

In fact, an outdoor cat may eventually roam far enough that an observer would consider your cat a stray. A kind neighbor might take in your cat, or animal control may pick up your cat on a routine search.

It’s a safer bet for your cat to remain indoors as much as possible. There are many ways for your cat to get outdoor time—like supervised jaunts in an enclosed backyard, or even walks on a cat leash. These compromises will keep your cat happy and safe.

Similar entries

  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV is a lentivirus that infects domestic cats and cheetahs. FIV is the cause of feline AIDS but is not the same virus as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the cause of human AIDS.

    The prevalence of FIV in domestic cats in North America is estimated to be at a 6% level regardless of whether the cat is owned or feral.

    Approximately 15% of cats that test positive for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) also test positive for FIV.

  • Feline Leukemia is a retrovirus. As a member of the retrovirus family, the feline leukemia virus’s genetic material is transmitted as RNA. Once the virus infects the cell, DNA copies of the virus are transcribed and these copies are inserted randomly into the host’s genetic material. Once the DNA is integrated within the genome, any cell division that occurs will cause both of the new cells to contain the virus.

  • Territorial aggression involves displays intended to exclude a cat from a particular area and often occurs when a new cat is introduced into a household. Individual cats may vary in their tolerance of other cats in the home. The introduction of a new cat to the household is easier when at least one of them is a kitten or juvenile. Assimilation is also easier when all the felines are well socialized to their own species.

  • When threatened and afraid, any cat may become aggressive, especially when they cannot escape from the situation. Cats may become afraid of people when being reached for, cornered, or otherwise restrained. In general, the less stressed a feline is, the more tolerant it will be. Cats may become afraid of other cats as well as other animals in various circumstances. Illness may change the threshold for this response by making a cat more irritable.

  • Fibrosarcomas are malignant tumors of fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are cells within the dermis of the skin that produce the collagen in connective tissue. These tumors are locally invasive, often recur locally, and have a tendency to spread to other parts of the body (metastasize). Metastasis often occurs weeks to months following surgical removal. Fibrosarcomas are hard to control through surgery even when ancillary therapy like chemo or radiation is employed.