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Cats: Indoors or Outdoors


Cats: Indoors or Outdoors

Cats should be kept indoors, unless you can provide them with an area enclosed by a cat-safe fence.  While cats who live strictly indoors live an average of 12 -15 years (and can live up to 18 or even 20 years), most cats that are allowed to roam outdoors usually don’t live for more than a few years.  Some estimates are that the average life span of a free-roaming cat is less than 3 years.  Cats who are allowed to go outside are placed at great risk from many dangers which can cause injury, illness and death.  These dangers include:

1.  Being hit by a car

2.  Being poisoned by chemicals such as lawn care products, antifreeze, rat poisons, and others.

3.  Contracting diseases such a feline leukemia, feline AIDS (FIV) and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)

4.  Being abused by humans – being shot, killed or beaten

5.  Getting lost

6.  Being stolen

7.  Being killed by outdoor wildlife such a coyotes, wolves, etc.

8.  Being injured or killed by dogs

In addition to the dangers they face themselves, there are other good reasons to keep cats indoors:

1.  Neighbors may complain about your cats.

2.  Cats may kill wildlife such as baby rabbits, small moles and birds.

There are, of course, many cats, whose humans thought their cats knew how to protect themselves, who have died from injuries or diseases that they have contacted outdoors.  Cats cannot see ahead at the dangers that they face.  You must see ahead for them.

Many cats live long and happy lives without ever going outdoors.  Kittens who are kept indoors usually show no desire to go outside when they grow up.

There are many things that you can do to enrich their indoor environment.  These include:

1.  Provide plenty of cat scratch posts and/or exercise condos.

2.  Play games with your cats.  This will not only provide them with good exercise, but will strength the human-animal bond that you have with your companion animal.

3.  Put a soft seat by a window where your cat can look out and bask in the sun.

4.  You may want to plant a dish of grass or catnip in your house for your little buddy to enjoy.

5.  Consider getting your friend an animal buddy.

6.  A screened porch is an excellent bonus for a cat.

7.  Provide your cat with plenty of toys.  Cats especially enjoy toys that recreate a hunting or chasing experience.  These include toys that you can move along the ground and in the air and toys that are on the end of a string that you can pull so that the toy disappears under a rug or towel.  Open paper bags and boxes are also favorites.

If you do feel that you must let your cats outdoors at times, a cat-safe fence will keep your pet safe from most dangers.  The Humane Society of the United States (http://www.hsus.org/ace/13937) provides a list of companies that manufacture ready-made cat fencing systems.  Other companies and organizations have developed similar plans for do-it-yourselfers.  In addition, cat “sun rooms” are now available from multiple companies; several also provide blueprints and building instructions for those who want to construct their own cat-safe sun enclosures.  The following list put out by The Humane Society of the United States lists several companies and organizations that help:

Alley Cat Allies Do-It-Yourself Cat Fence


Cat Fence-InTM



C&D Pet Products Cat Enclosure Kit



D&L Classic Pet Enclosures





Just 4 Cats SafeCat Outdoor

Enclosure Plans





Midnight Pass



Pet Patio


Ultra Lite Products



Remember that you still need to keep a watch on your cat when she is in the cat-safe fence area.  Be sure to cat-proof the fence to ensure that there are no open holes where she can get out.  Also, be sure that the fence is in area free of toxic plants, garden chemicals and dangerous objects.



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