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Indoor vs. outdoor cats: Which is right for you?

Published: Sep 26, 2012

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Many people enjoy feline companions because they typically require less attention and care compared to canines or other pets. Cats often seem to have their own "agenda" in their day to day lives, though many still love to cuddle and play with their owners. While some cat owners like to keep their feline inside all the time, others choose to let their cat roam the outside world. Both types of lifestyle can be healthy for felines, provided their owners think carefully about which situation will work best. If you're trying to decide between raising an indoor or outdoor cat, here are some things to consider.

Where do you live?
Where you live will likely be the biggest factor in your decision between indoor and outdoor. While cats have proven able to survive well in a wide variety of environments, there are certain dangers that owners must keep in mind. Urban settings can be perilous for felines, as constant traffic can increase their risk of being injured by a car. On the other hand, rural settings have their own dangers - wild animals often prey on cats. Suburban neighborhoods are typically well-suited for outdoor felines, but you should always perform a preliminary check of your neighborhood to see if it feels safe for free-roaming felines. You'll also want to make sure your cat is microchipped and has identification on his collar, should he get lost or be mistaken for a stray.

What is your cat's behavior like?
Your feline's behavior will also be something to consider when making this choice. Timid cats may be more comfortable living indoors, while cats who are adventurous and energetic often feel the need to stretch their paws in the great outdoors. Remember, if you haven't seen your vet for the purpose of neutering or spaying a cat, then your cat may face problems while outside. Cats in heat are likely to attract other felines.

What to know about indoor cats
If you choose the indoor route, you will likely need to give your cat a bit more attention to keep him entertained and happy. Cat toys not only help stimulate your feline, but will also keep him physically fit, as inactivity can lead to feline obesity. You'll also likely need to empty out your cat's litter box more often, as indoor cats will not have the opportunity to eliminate outside. As a general rule, you should clean out your cat's litter box daily, and change out all the litter at least once a week.

What to know about outdoor cats
Outdoor cats may have a greater sense of independence and get their exercise mostly on their own, but they are also at a greater risk for certain health issues. Outdoor felines are more likely to contract infectious diseases and are prone to parasites in cats. You should also be sure you're well versed in first aid for cats should your feline experience an emergency and need medical attention before you get him to a vet hospital. 

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