Kids' Animal Station

For kids who love animals by a kid who loves animals

The Constant Cat Owner Conundrum: Indoor or Outdoor?!

As you may have heard, local councilors in Melbourne, Australia have introduced a legal curfew solution to a sticky situation: should domesticated house cats be kept inside or allowed to roam outdoors? Let’s look at the pros and cons of the two debating sides. Feel free to share what you think in my opinion box or look into the Australian cat curfew yourself through the link at the bottom of this page.

Who wouldn’t wanna live like this, no?

The Interesting Indoors…

As Melbourne county Mayor Lisa Cooper agreed, allowing house cats unsupervised time outdoors leaves them at a much higher risk of illness and injury, much of which may occur unbeknownst to the otherwise well-meaning pet owner. Rabies, predation by wild animals and parasitic disease are just a few of the many dangers which can come from living outdoors–and none of that is anything to scoff at! But not only can house cats face common threats from nature and human effects such as oncoming traffic, abuse by strangers and pollution without proper care taken to their possible surroundings, but they can also interfere with the local ecosystem.

Around the globe, house cats are human-introduced invasive species that can wreak havoc–particularly on the native or rare birds, rodents, and other small animals which originally dwelled there. It is up to humans to stop this encroachment, which has historically resulted in the endangerment and mass extinction of several local species that cannot be found anywhere else. When house cats are left to roam, they will naturally hunt and stalk prey–something they can’t be blamed for, but can also be halted by them being kept indoors.

According to the Fredericton SPCA, indoor cats tend to live about 10-15 years on average, while outdoor cats live 2-5 years. Youwch! That’s a big difference between the two lifestyles. Yet indoor life isn’t all that peachy…

Although this certainly looks quite majestic!

Versus the Outstanding Outdoors…?

Advocates of letting cats spend time outdoors unsupervised argue that denying cats the proper natural space to wander and hunt outside is detrimental to the physical and mental exercising of cats and their instinct to explore and interact with the environment around them–they are animals, after all! Nothing can stimulate the curiosity, skills, and senses of a wild animal like the wild world–although there are indeed factors in cities and other urban areas that a cat would not naturally encounter.

Many would argue that the threat of depression, loneliness and boredom in house cats is just as important as other concerns pet owners have for the quality of their pet’s life. Indeed, it is easy to see how frustration, obesity and stress from confinement can negatively affect the life of strictly-indoor cats. Normal feline behaviors such as urine spraying, scratching and climbing are ill-received by cat owners who wish to keep their walls and furniture clean, yet it’s understandable on their end when keeping cats inside restricts their options for recreation, exploration and learning to upholstery.

Particularly if you must often leave the house and spend time away, indoor cats are more likely to develop unhealthy, clingy behaviors, being used to depending on the schedules of their human companions for the bulk of their daily activity.

Or Maybe Something Else Entirely….

If you fear the safety of your cat too much to let them roam unsupervised outdoors, many experts argue that there are still several ways to encourage excitement and enjoyment in your cat’s life. Here are some below:

  • Set up high scratching posts/structures made for cats to climb and play on
  • Leave the curtains open, the tv on low or a CD playing music to stimulate audio and visual senses
  • Put potted plants such as alfalfa that are interesting to cats and safe
  • Spend at least 15 minutes a day playing and giving attention to your cat
  • Provide them with a variety of toys while you’re away
  • Keep a consistent location for a clean, well-spaced litterbox

My dear family friend, Nancy, had a unique solution for her own cats–and perhaps the best of all! She built a “Catio” for her kittens so they could explore the outdoors in a safe, confined way! That way, she can ensure that they won’t run into the aforementioned troubles that outdoor cats have, but still have a chance to roam outside whenever they please, with a (closable) doggy flap between the house and the catio. See pictures below of what her spoiled kitties enjoy!

Wise Words

"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if a person or animal is at stake."
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."
— Translation of African Proverb

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