Indoor Cats vs Outdoor Cats
27th November 2017
Some cats are real outdoor explorers while others spend more time inside. Cats can live permanently indoors, provided their home environment meets their needs and provides enough mental stimulation.
Whatever your cat’s situation, there are steps you can take to ensure they are comfortable both inside and outside of the home.
Cats who spend time outside can explore their territory, exercise and hunt for prey; behaviour which is important for their mental wellbeing. They can also scratch and spray freely without ruining your furniture!
Unfamiliar visitors or noise caused by building works can be stressful for a cat, so the great outdoors offers cats an escape when the house becomes an overwhelming place.
Cat flaps give cats the opportunity to venture outside whenever they choose. In busy neighbourhoods, there might be lots of other cats close by, so a SureFlap Microchip Cat Flap will ensure no other cats can enter the home, allowing the resident cat to come and go freely without the fear of invasion.
Some cats will feel vulnerable if the cat flap leads out onto an open space. Plant pots positioned around the cat flap give cats a place to hide and scan their territory when they leave the cat flap, which makes them feel more secure.
Reducing outdoor risks
Outdoor cats are more susceptible to injuries, disease, parasites, poisons and becoming lost, but by taking precautions, you can ensure the risks are reduced.
Be sure to get your cat neutered, not only to prevent unwanted kittens, but to reduce their tendency to fight with other cats. And vaccinating your cat will protect them from disease.
Garden chemicals, slug pellets, anti-freeze and pest control poisons are all dangerous to cats. If you suspect that your cat has ingested a harmful substance, take him to the vet as soon as possible for immediate treatment. Your vet can also discuss ways to prevent and treat parasites.
Getting your cat microchipped will increase the chances of you being reunited with your cat if he becomes lost. Unlike collars, which can become lost, microchips are a permanent form of identification which will stay with your cat for his entire life. Even indoor cats should be microchipped, just in case they escape through an open door or window.
Most road traffic injuries to cats occur at night so consider keeping your cat indoors after dark. A SureFlap Microchip Pet Door has a curfew mode which makes it easy to keep your cat indoors at specified times.
Cats will often roam where they choose, but there are steps you can take to encourage them to stay in your garden. If they stick to your garden, they are less likely to venture into other gardens where they might annoy the neighbours or encounter other cats.
Make an outdoor toileting area that contains loose soil or sand which is sheltered for privacy. This should encourage your cat to go to the toilet in your garden instead of the neighbour’s garden.
Consider plants that are cat-friendly. Large, broad-leafed plants can provide much needed shade in the warmer months and long grass can be the perfect outdoor cat bed. Catnip, mint, cat thyme and lavender are perfect plants to put in your cat’s favourite area of the garden.
Keeping a cat indoors
While outdoor access is recommended, cats can adapt to life indoors, especially if it’s all they’ve known. Some cats may need to be kept indoors due to illness or disabilities. The benefits of keeping cats indoors are that they will be protected from road traffic accidents and outdoor parasites and poisons. It’s important to ensure their home is well kitted out though.
Keeping indoor cats happy
To prevent boredom, indoor cats should be given as much stimulation as possible. This includes providing toys they can chase and pounce on to enable them to express their natural hunting behaviour. This behaviour releases endorphins and keeps a cat happy.
A cat will find it more difficult to escape stressful situations when they are kept inside. Therefore, it’s essential to provide them with plenty of hiding places. Allow your cat free rein of the house and leave cupboard doors open for them to retreat into. Cardboard boxes are also great places for cats to hide.
Cats like to survey their territory from up high, so give your cat access to the top of a wardrobe, shelves or a window ledge. Access to these high places also provides much needed exercise. Obesity is a concern amongst indoor-only cats so it’s important to offer them plenty of chances to stretch their legs.
Give your cat a comfortable bed and a scratching post. Cats scratch to keep their claws in good shape and as a way of marking their territory. Position the scratching post close to their bed as they will often scratch when they wake up.
A litter tray is an essential piece of kit for indoor cats. You will need one litter tray per cat plus one extra, so if you have two indoor cats, you should provide three litter trays. Make sure the litter trays are not located near the cat’s food or water bowl to avoid contamination and change the litter at least once a day.
This article is in collaboration with Cats Protection.