Thursday, September 17, 2015

3 Reasons Why I'm Glad to Have an Indoor Only Cat

For my entire life, I've had pet cats. The only exception is a 2-3 year absence of a cat in my life recently because I believed my dog would not tolerate living with a cat again. That changed early in 2015 when I adopted a cat.


Callie is an indoor only cat. This means that she lives indoors all of the time. The only time she goes outside is with my supervision for short amounts of time and we do not wander more than 10-20 feet from the house, usually. Of course, there have been a small number of exceptions when she escaped and spent a few hours outside.

Callie is my first indoor only cat, and I couldn't be more happy and relieved about this. When I was a child and teenager, our cats were allowed to go outside as they pleased. I cannot remember having a cat that lived for more than three years back then. Sadly, we had a lot of cats probably because they did not have long life spans.

As a young adult, a cat showed up at my doorstep one day. I took her inside and she was sweet and friendly. I told her she could live with me if she wanted, and so she did. We named her Kitty Kitty Meow Meow. This cat had wandered to us from an unknown past, and so she was not easily kept indoors. This was also before I was well-versed in animal care. She came and went as she pleased, and the time she spent indoors versus the time she spent outdoors seemed to have a seasonal pattern.

Kitty Kitty Meow Meow

Kitty Kitty Meow Meow lived a happy life being allowed to explore the outdoors and passed away at the age of approximately 10 years old from breast cancer. I can't be sure exactly how old she was, but this was the only indoor/outdoor cat I have ever had that lived a somewhat decent lifespan.

I want to clarify that I do not think poorly of responsible cat owners who allow their cats to go outside sometimes. Everyone's situation is different and I am in no position to judge anyone's decision on whether or not their cat is allowed to go outdoors. I've been there, I get it.

However, I do want to share my experience in transitioning from a lifetime of indoor/outdoor cats to one who is an exclusively indoor only cat, which has been a sort of "dream" of mine for a very long time.

  1. I'm not worried. Some of my past cats I can remember would sometimes stay gone for a day, a few days, or even a week at a time. This caused me extreme worry and I hated it. What's worse is that some of them would come back with injuries or not at all. Because I now have an indoor only cat, I don't worry about her or wonder when she's coming back. 
  2. Less risk of injury. No one wants their pet to get hurt or sick. As a vet tech, we used to see many cats with cat bite abscesses. They were indoor/outdoor cats who had been fighting with other cats in the neighborhood. Less injuries also means less vet bills. Outdoor cats are also at risk to a number of other injuries and illnesses such as FIV, Feline Leukemia, attacks from wild animals, being hit by a car, and just more prone to accidents in general. 
  3. Longer life. Cats who live indoors can live out a full lifespan of 17+ years. According to this, outdoor cats typically have a lifespan of only 2 to 5 years. I am glad that I'll be able to enjoy more time with my indoor cat.
Many might argue that cats do not get to enjoy the wonderful world around them when they are kept indoors all the time. This may be true, but there are ways to get around this without putting your cat in harm's way. 

Exploring with a harness on. 

I like to go outside with Callie for a few minutes every day. She rolls around in the dirt for five minutes and then runs back up to the house to go inside. I also have a harness for her in case I feel like going a little further from the house, because we have a big yard. Some cats love to travel and will wear harnesses. They go everywhere with their humans. 

There are also amazing outdoor "catios" now being built for cats like the one in the video below. These fancy catios allow indoor cats the chance to go outside, but in a safe way. I'm not sure building a catio is something that I'm personally able to do, but I would like to at least try an outdoor tent like this one with Callie one day. 


I love having this peace of mind with Callie. It's like a giant sigh of relief, and I couldn't be more happy about it. 

Do you have an indoor only cat? Does your cat go outside? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

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30 comments:

  1. Binga and Boodie are what I call "hardcore" indoor-only cats - they never, ever go outside! I am allowed outside on a harness and leash, so I'm not quite as hardcore. My human's soul cat, Harlot, was indoor-outdoor, and a day didn't go by that she didn't worry about her, even though Harlot was a street and urban-critter wise cat who lived to be over 15 years old, and was felled by cancer, not a car or a coyote. But I'm sure a few of Harlot's escapades took a few years off my human's life, MOL!

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    1. Haha - Harlot sounds a bit like my Kitty Kitty Meow Meow. Also had cancer and a very "street-wise" kitty.

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  2. My cats started out as indoor kitties but are now outdoors. I won't lie - there have been moments where I asked myself why I've done this. Currently, for instance, one of them has an abscess from fighting. And sometimes, they don't come home when you expect them to. Going to the vet and not knowing what goes in and what comes out can both be embarrassing and make you feel like a bad owner for not being able to help them diagnose your cat

    On the other hand, I have a cat that's nigh feral who is terrified of people. Being indoors severely diminishes her quality of life due to her severe anxiety around us, her owners. Being outdoors gives her the freedom to seek us out on her own terms. It also alleviates the pressure of a multi-cat household as there is more territory to go around and there are more ways to avoid one another if you don't get along. And the environmental enrichment factor is huge.

    Personally, I feel it's a draw. Yes, outdoors, they face more physical dangers (which can be mitigated by living in a safe neighbourhood and teaching your cats to come when called), but indoors they face the very real danger of depression, obesity and apathy - which, again can be mitigated if the owner is aware and willing.

    Which is worse? And which is easier to live with? I think it depends on the situation, the owner and the cat's personality.

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    1. I think your statement on the topic is perfect. Each cat is individual and some are fine staying inside, while others never seem to acclimate to that kind of life. Callie has lived indoors her entire life, so she is happy to stay in here. Of course, I know that all cats do not desire this kind of lifestyle.

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  3. Sam is in and out. He was a tiny kitten when we adopted him from the shelter and trained him on harness/leash from the start. So when he was out obviously one of us was with him holding the leash. As he aged he became so familiar with his yard we could allow him to be outside during the daylight as long as one of us was with him - he never went far from the immediate area around the house. This is still the case and he's almost 16. He loves a sunny front porch and lying in the grass but one of us is ALWAYS around. He does still wear the harness/leash if he's out with us in the DARK however. Even though I trust him not to wander, I still feel BETTER having him at the end of a leash!

    Pam

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    1. Sounds like you guys have a nice and safe outdoor routine in place. Callie has escaped twice in the middle of the night, and it is not fun trying to find an almost all black cat at night. She didn't go far from the house, but didn't come when I called her either. All of my other outdoor cats were used to coming with a special call my Mom used. Callie hasn't been trained to that call.

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  4. Wonderful points made in this post. My first cat, Bobo also came from an "unknown past" I found him as a stray when he was six months old. I used to take Bobo out on a leash and what I always hated was because of his unknown past, and the fact that I used to take him outside on a leash he OFTEN tried to get out (and a few times succeeded) and would make me a nervous wreck.

    Cody is an indoor only cat who has NO desire to go outside and I do not push it. I adopted Cody when he was 10 wks old. I tried twice taking him outside on a leash and he wanted no part of it (this leads me to assume that before I adopted him he had never been outside and was probably in his foster home as a newborn). Once Cody made it clear he did not want to be outdoors, he has never been taken out on a leash again. As a result, open doors are no problem here, he could care less! I have less worry too!

    catchatwithcarenandcody

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    1. Well, it's nice that you don't have to struggle with Cody on the escape end. I know Callie used to go outside a little bit at her old home. She probably ran out the door for some fresh air like she does here. Although once, when she lived with her old humans she was missing for a week... cats are just all different. We've got to figure out what they like and then meet their needs!

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  5. my local shelter put a small catio off one of their community cat rooms.. it is nice the cats have a place to take a break from people if they feel they need it.

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    1. I REALLY want a catio... maybe one day :)

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  6. OK so we have never had cats but...our neighbor has a dog and a cat. When she takes Harley out for a walk every morning and every night, the cat walks with them! I think it is great that their cat gets to explore outside twice a day, safely on a leash. It's probably good sensory stimulation for the cat as well...right?!?
    Oz

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    1. Aw that's so cute! As long as the cat enjoys it, it's definitely good for them!

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  7. I adopted my cat as a five-year-old who had lived in a rescue for most of her life. She will (very occasionally) wander on to the screened balcony when I open the door, but she more often growls at it and runs away. She also runs from the front door every time it opens. Safe to say she has no interest in going outside, which is fine with me as I live in a condo off a busy road! :)

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    1. Haha, well at least she's realized that outside is a dangerous place. I think Callie knows that outside is dangerous too, but her curiosity gets the best of her sometimes.

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  8. We only have indoor cats too Mom doesn't like all the worry with outdoor cats, especially all the dangers like cars and stuff. We had an indoor/outdoor cat in Germany who moved here with us, and one day he vanished. Mom saw him around 7pm on the deck, and never again. It has now been 7 years and never a trace. We never want to go through that again.

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    1. I know the feeling, Emma and it really is awful :( I also would not like to have to experience that again.

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  9. Carmine and Lita are indoor-only cats. I know that some people think indoor-only cats get bored, but my kitties seem happy and they have a great life, getting spoiled. They are safe, too, which is very important to me.

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    1. Carmine and Lita are very lucky :) You provide them with good care!

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  10. Oh wow! That catio is so cool! Our kitty goes outside during the summer sometimes but only stays on our front porch.

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    1. I love the catio in that video... I wish it were mine!

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  11. We have had some cats that were indoor/outdoor live to pretty good ages (18 and 14). However, that doesn't make up for the losses we've had. One just disappeared completely(I remember two others when I was a teenager too that disappeared), and that is so hard, never knowing what happened. The last straw for us was when our cat got attacked by the dog next door when she was out in our yard. She ultimately did not survive. It's just not worth the risks to me, and I worry far less knowing where Sam is at all times.

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    1. I know how that is Janet... they are definitely safer indoors. Unless you can go out with them every single time to watch them, there are just so many dangers out there.

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  12. Amen to that! Outdoors is scary!

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  13. All mine are indoors only. I found many outside and no one ever tries to get out now.

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  14. The three of us are strictly indoor cats though I would love to go outside. Sometimes I do but it's always on a leash with the mom. We're very happy inside. We have lots of toys and big windows that we can watch what's going on outside. ~Wally

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  15. I had no idea outdoor cats lived such short lives. Our cats are indoor, but I've been letting Cosmo outside during the day when I'm home. He sticks close to the house and comes back pretty quickly. He went missing for 7 days once; he was living at our neighbor's house. Since then, he doesn't run off anymore although our neighbor treated him well.

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    1. They sure do, and it's why most vets recommend that cats live indoors. My last cat did the same thing, except I have no idea where she was for a week. Glad that Cosmo just had a little mini-vacay lol!

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  16. My girls are strictly indoors. I cannot imagine letting them out.

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  17. We are not allowed to go outside. Mommy says that since we live in a city there is nothing outside for us. Lexy tries to run out in the hallway sometimes when Mommy comes home, but that's as close to outside as we get. Mommy says that when we move if we have a backyard we can have a tent.

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  18. I've only had indoor-only cats. You're absolutely right...the outdoors can be a scary and dangerous place. I've traveled with Katie & Waffles on numerous occasions now, but alway in harnesses, with leashes, in carriers, etc... They're both microchipped too, because you just never know!
    ~Glogirly

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