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Published: Jan 05, 2012

In general, cats will live healthier lives if they are kept indoors, however, owners will have to pay special attention to their needs so they stay happy and fulfilled.

According to Veterinarian Randy Aronson, reporting on KVOA-TV’s Pet Vet segment, "On average, an indoor cat lives 12 years, but some cats can live for as many as 20 years.  In comparison, an outdoor cat's life expectancy is less than five years."  According to this local news station in Tucson, Arizona, outdoor cats are often happier because they roam freely and are able to hunt and get plenty of exercise.  However, outdoor cats are more susceptible to dangers from predators like hawks and coyotes, traumatic accidents with vehicles, and even toxicity from eating spoiled food or poisonous plants.

VCA Animal Hospitals reports outdoor cats are also at greater risk of acquiring diseases such as feline leukemia (FeLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and in urban areas outdoor felines typically have an even shorter average life span of just about two years.

Indoor living, however, is not without potential problems. Although cats living inside are less affected by trauma and infectious diseases, indoor confinement can lead to behavioral problems. It is important that indoor cats have plenty of resources for perching, scratching, water drinking, and eliminating. Appropriate toys and activities are necessary to stimulate them mentally in order to keep them happy and to get the required amount of daily exercise.