How often do you hear from a fellow pet parent who feels “so guilty” when their cat sits on the window sill staring outside? They worry their cat is bored, is becoming destructive because they don’t want to be in the house anymore, or even that being inside is negatively affecting their cat’s health. They let the cat on the porch to explore a bit, and one night the cat gets out by mistake. He comes back right away, and soon this one-time thing becomes a habit. But, is this really okay for your cat? Is it actually important for your cat to go outside occasionally, or is this a myth?
Let’s take a look at some of the myths floating around about the indoor-versus-outdoor cat dilemma, and what’s best for your feline companion.
I’m worried my indoor cat gets bored.
This isn’t untrue. Your indoor cat probably does get bored from time to time. That doesn’t mean you need to be letting him outside, though. Instead, make your home more interesting. Set up perches and cat forts throughout the house for him to play in; buy him new toys; and leave the blinds open so he can see outside while you’re not home. If your home is interesting, then he won’t want to leave.
My indoor cat is overweight.
Animals sometimes become overweight, but this is easily controllable. This can be managed with a combination of portion control, daily exercise, and play time. Try not to feed your cat wet food if you can help it, and cut back on the treats. Try incorporating toys into his routine that will encourage him to run around the house. Perches, tunnels, and scratching posts pay homage to your cat’s internal instincts while also exercising him mentally, emotionally, and physically.
My indoor cat is destructive.
If your cat has become destructive, then there’s probably something else going on. Is your cat bored, or possibly even sick? Set up scratching posts throughout the house, and try planting catnip and other cat-friendly plants around the house for him to gnaw on; they’re non-toxic and good for his teeth. If you take steps to curb the behavior and it continues, then call your vet and arrange an appointment to see what else may be going on.
My cat has always been allowed outside, so I can’t just make him indoor-only.
Just because you’ve been doing it doesn’t mean you should. Plenty of cats transition from indoor to outdoor, and then indoor again. The key, again, is to make your home as interesting as the outdoors.
My cat is safe when he goes outside because he stays close to my home.
Your cat might not wander far, but a lot can happen in that small radius of your home. While cats like to stick within their designated territory, they sometimes wander and can’t find their way home; they are attacked by a larger predator; or are even picked up by a concerned stranger. Make sure you microchip your cat, and don’t let him out if you cant help it.
Sometimes I need to let my cat outside because I’m allergic to him.
If you suspect you’re allergic to your cat, then you need to be tested. If you’re not allergic and you’re letting him outside, then there’s an outside allergen that’s affecting your sinuses. To make matters worse, you could even be exposing your cat to allergens which could cause a reaction in him. Get tested, and avoid letting your cat out.