I’d argue that yes, you should keep your cat(s) inside. Although it isn’t easy to change the habits of a formally indoor/outdoor cat, it’s not impossible either. All cats can be discouraged from going outdoors, especially if you cultivate an enriching indoor habitat.
Don’t Add to the Feral Cat Problem
If your cat isn’t spayed or neutered, you’re risking reproduction. The feral cat problem is huge, but population isn’t the only concern. Mating is actually dangerous for males and females, and may ultimately cause fatal injuries. In his search for a female to mate with, a male cat will encounter other aggressive males and they will fight and risk serious injury or death. Females, on the other hand, may become impregnated and add to the feral cat issue. Even if you keep and protect the kittens, the pregnancy and subsequent heats put stress on the female and she’s at a higher risk for disease.
Others Reasons to Keep Cats Inside
Even if your cat is fixed, there are plenty of reasons to keep him indoors only. If you value his life, you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that indoor-only cats statistically outlive their indoor/outdoor counterparts by four years. Outside, your cat is faced with many dangers, including:
- Poisons, such as antifreeze and disease, such as feline leukemia, are easier to spread to outdoor cats.
- Vehicles. Cats can be run over or burned after snuggling near a motor. Cold cats may find comfort in a wheel well and be injured or killed when the car starts to move.
- Predators. Cats have many predators, including coyotes, owls, Hawks, snakes, dogs, and even other cats. Cat fights can result in life-altering, even fatal, injuries.
- Pests, such as ticks, which spread deadly disease and fleas, which can transmit cat scratch fever to humans. Heartworms can be spread through mosquito bites, and outdoor cats are more exposed to mosquitos than indoor owns; however, all cats should be regularly treated for Heartworms.
- Weather can pose a threat to your cat, especially if you live in a part of the country where snows fall and thunderstorms can the potential to flood city streets.
- Theft and other forms of human cruelty is the final threat to outdoor cats. Your indoor-only cat is protected from all the evils of inhumanity, but your indoor/outdoor cat could cross the path of someone nasty and end up shot by a pellet gun, kicked, stolen, or otherwise mistreated.
Create an Indoor Environment Your Cat Wants to Be Apart Of
It’s now obvious that indoor-only cats live longer and healthier lives, but how do you train an indoor-outdoor cat to end the caterwauling and stay indoors without crying and fighting to get out? It’s important to start slow, but remain firm.
If you’ve got the space, the cat experts at CatBehaviorAssociates.com recommend setting up a sanctuary space for your cat.
“The sanctuary room is just a room you can close off – such as a bedroom. This is where all of kitty’s necessities will be located – her food and water bowls, litter box, scratching post and toys. There are also some extras to put in there as well that will be very helpful: hideaways and a cat tree or some kind of perch.”
Make sure to visit him lots to play and give attention. So long as he has everything he needs and plenty of places to hide, he will find his bliss indoors. It’s important that you are resilient and do not give in to cries to go out; eventually, these will subside.
How to Offer Outdoor Time and Still Protect Your Cat
If you do want to offer your cat outside time, do it in a safe way. My uncle would put harnesses on his cats and allow them to bask outside, but on long leaches attached to a stake in the ground. They could run and jump and scratch their nails on a nearby tree, but the couldn’t risk danger or evacuate their bowels on the neighbor’s lawn. There are outdoor enclosures you can buy, which come in a variety of sizes and styles to suit your needs.
It all comes down to safety. You may feel that your indoor/outdoor cat is perfectly safe, but this isn’t exactly true. Both rural and urban locales have dangers that pose threats. So if you haven’t already, make the transition to indoor only and add some years to your cat’s life.