It seems cat owners fall into two camps when it comes to what type of lifestyle is best for their cats: Indoor or Outdoor.
Although I currently fall into the ‘indoor’ category, there was a time growing up when we had a couple cats that we let hit the streets and they were totally fine. In fact, the thought of fresh air, exercise and letting a cat experience all of the things they were born for – hunting, socializing, playing – is great reason to let them roam outdoors.
So lets be clear that I am not here to debate the subject or try to convince you outdoor folks your way is wrong. As it is with most things, there are several ways to….well, approach this. I know of several folks with happy and healthy outdoor kittos, and I think it is great!
In trying to make the best decision with our situation, several things came into play that are big factors in what we felt was best, and here are a few.
Fleas / Ticks. Do a quick Google search for cat fleas, and several great sources of information will keep you busy. For simplicities sake, I chose one of the first. PetMD pretty much spelled it out in the first sentence: “Cat fleas are by far the most common, abundant and widespread flea on the planet”. (This I never knew before!) It goes on to talk about the number of diseases that can be harmful to both cats and humans. Eeeshhh. For sure there are a multitude of treatments and preventions to keep the problem at bay, but for me that means something else to manage and budget for. And there is something about that picture — the skeletal, hairy image of the flea that always gets me. Anyone?
Coyotes. Now you would think that just by mentioning this as a potential threat, I live in a very rural area. In fact, my house is in a popular suburb on the west side of the city. And honestly, were it not for the helpful website Nextdoor, I wouldn’t have even considered that coyotes hang out in my neighborhood. Nextdoor is a great web resource that is neighborhood specific and provides up-to-date information from members on everything from a loose dog to potential criminal activity. Thanks to the posts from neighbors, it turns out there have been several coyote sightings on different times in various places nearby. I’m guessing these coyotes are just passing through, but I doubt one of my cats would be able to take them. In fact, I don’t even really want to entertain the thought.
Someone else feeding my cat. It never occurred to me until recently that there are lots of reasons for people to leave food out for cats: They are trying to keep strays from starving / their cat got out and they are hoping the food lures them home / they ‘trap and release’ feral cats, or maybe it is just how they feed their own. It is so refreshing to know that there are so many really good hearted animal lovers who look out for the needy. But sometimes a good deed can have dire consequences. For the non-feral cats, they now have a new food source. How do you keep an eye on your cats’ diet if you don’t know what he / she is eating? There are also other, more tragic repercussions. Through Nextdoor, I heard about a neighborhood that was having trouble with rats. They contacted the city, to no avail. Someone’s solution? To put out food with rat poison, so the rats would eat it and be exterminated. I’m sure you can see where this is going, and it is totally devastating to say the least especially when an innocent cat falls prey.
To keep them from using flower beds as litter boxes. Now, before this ruffles feathers, I am not saying that every outdoor cat is a bad cat because it does it’s business the way nature intended. In fact, there are many animals that are a threat to flower beds and gardens everywhere, so of course cats sometimes get a bad rap undeservedly. But I do know of many people who spend hours tending to outdoor nature and would appreciate help in keeping it nice. That’s all.
Finally, and maybe what it all boils down to is that I have three. So for every reason above (and others not mentioned), it applies three times. Managing fleas x 3, worrying about other predators x 3, and so on. It is not to say we couldn’t do it, but at least if we need to find them, feed them or otherwise figure out what may be wrong, we have a pretty good starting point.
What are your thoughts on keeping cats indoors or letting them roam? Tell me your stories, or post on Facebook.