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An outdoor cat; the pros and cons

Many cats love being outside. They enjoy their freedom and get excited by the rustling leaves, humming insects and all the different scents in the air. But cats also love their indoor spots in front of the radiator, window or lounging on the couch. Why let your cat outside or decide to keep it indoors? Here are all the pros and cons.

Why let a cat go outside?

Cats are hunters through and through which is an instinct that cannot be suppressed. They can spend hours on end spying on anything that flies, runs or crawls. We may not always be happy about this undesirable and unnecessary hunting behaviour, but it is part of your cat’s instinct and there is nothing you can do about it. What you can do, is alert the prey by putting a little bell around your cat’s neck. Indoor cats have a strong hunting instinct as well, which needs to be satisfied. Offer your cat alternatives in order to provide enough challenge and ways of releasing its energy. Sufficient exercise is also very important for a cat; it helps avoid both physical and mental issues. A cat has all the freedom to move around outdoors, which can be a bit trickier indoors. Click here to read all about how to provide sufficient challenge and exercise indoors.

Why keep a cat indoors?

In addition to offering plenty of fun challenges, the outside world also confronts your cat with hazards. This includes traffic, bad actors and the risk of getting lost. A fight with the neighbours may be another reason to keep your cat indoors. This will do no harm and your cat won’t be missing out on much, as long as it got used to being indoors at a young age and the indoor environment offers enough distraction. A bigger problem emerges when your cat is used to going outside and now is no longer allowed to. Expect hours of relentless mewing in front of the door. Is it OK for your cat to go outside but not onto the street? Consider closing off your garden to create a safe garden for cats.

Outdoor cat: less undesirable behaviour?

An outdoor cat has the opportunity to release its energy outside, which makes it less likely to go nuts indoors at the expense of your furniture. Frequent indoor play will not do the lifespan of your couch any favours. Plus, boredom may lead your cat to inflict damage around the house when left alone for hours on a daily basis. You can reduce this behaviour and prevent the damage by offering your cat enough distraction. Keep in mind that even cats that get to go outside every now and then, may still display undesirable behaviour and treat your couch like a scratching post. Read all about how to avoid or eliminate undesirable behaviour here.

ATTENTION: poisonous plants!

Whether you have an indoor or an outdoor cat; it may be confronted with poisonous plants. Keep this in mind when designing your garden or choosing your indoor plants. Find out what plants are poisonous to cats here.

Diseases and infections

Outdoor cats encounter other cats and (wild) animals which puts them at a higher risk of contracting an infectious disease such as rabies or cat leukemia than indoor cats. In addition, outdoor cats are exposed to worms and/or fleas more frequently. For that reason, vaccination as well as routine deworming and defleaing are key. Though indoor cats do not encounter as many other cats and other (wild) animals, they still need to be vaccinated. Standard vaccines against Feline Panleukopenia and cat flu as well as routine deworming and defleaing are certainly recommended for indoor cats as well. As its housemate, you can bring the pathogens into the house, for example on the soles of your shoes. Read all about vaccinations for cats here.

How do I know whether my cat is healthy?

In addition to vaccination, it is important to examine the coat, skin, eyes and nose of your cat on a regular basis. Paying attention to how your cat moves around and whether or not it is eating and drinking well, is another important way of making sure your cat is healthy. The same applies to both indoor and outdoor cats. Here are some more tips for finding out whether your cat is healthy.

To keep my cat indoors or let it out?

Unfortunately, there isn’t always a clear-cut answer to the question whether to keep your cat indoors or let it out. It largely depends on the character and breed of your cat, what it is accustomed to and the surroundings of where you live. Some cats have more energy and need more freedom than others. Plus, the home itself and its surroundings may be more or less suitable for a happy cat life than others. How much space the cat has indoors and/or out, whether they are sharing a home with other cats or other animals, whether you live alone or have got a large family; these are all factors that weigh in on the question whether your cat will be happier as an indoor or an outdoor cat. Observe your cat before making a decision and consider what decision would make you feel better as well. You both need to be comfortable with the situation before you can bond properly. Discover what your cat’s behaviour is telling you with these 6 tips.

Leaving it up to the cat to decide

Is it OK for your cat to go outside, but are you weary of keeping it outside the whole day? Get a cat flap. This will allow your cat to choose where it wants to be at any given moment. Check out the pros and cons of a cat flap here.

Food for indoor and outdoor cats

All of Yarrah’s food products are suitable for outdoor as well as indoor cats. Do make sure to adapt the quantity to the activity level of your cat. An outdoor cat will tend to get more exercise than an indoor cat. Keep this in mind when measuring your portions. Use the food calculator to find out how much food your cat needs on a daily basis.

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