Cats have their own personalities and preferences. While some enjoy curling up on the sofa, others are more active and benefit from regular exercise and play. Many cat owners understand the benefits of letting their cat roam outdoors, but there are a few safety considerations to think about before sending your cat outside.
Protecting your cats from injury or disease with an outdoor cat enclosure lets your cat get fresh air and exercise without coming into contact with other animals or hazards. You can find a wide selection of outdoor cat enclosures listed at Foter.com.
To make an informed decision for the health and wellbeing of your feline friend, here are the pros and cons of letting your cat outdoors.
Pros of Raising an Outdoor Cat
- Great Exercise
Cats need plenty of fresh air and exercise to maintain healthy joints and muscles, manage their weight, and promote positive mental health. Letting your cat outdoors provides them with ample opportunity to run, climb, jump, and explore which can improve their physical health and prolong their lifespan.
- Encourages Natural Behaviors
The outdoors provides an outlet for your cat's natural instincts and behaviors. It allows them to scratch trees and save your sofa, hunt rodents and insects, and roam and mark their territory.
Being outdoors also stimulates their natural curiosity by letting them investigate new sights, smells, tastes and sounds which can have a positive impact on their wellbeing.
- Ample Entertainment
Indoor cats often display more attention-seeking behaviors toward owners than outdoor cats and require constant stimulation in the form of games and toys. If you are frequently away from home or work long hours, raising an outdoor cat ensures they have an endless source of entertainment to prevent destructive behaviors inside the house.
- No Litter Box Training
For many cat owners, one of the biggest advantages of raising an outdoor cat is less need for litter box training and cleanup. By allowing your pet to do their business outside, you create a healthier home environment.
If you are concerned about finding feces around your yard, you can build an outdoor litter area for your cat. It is recommended that you still keep a litter box at home for use when it rains, or in case your cat refuses to use the outdoor area.
Cons of Letting Your Cat Outdoors
- Endangering Wildlife
Cats are natural predators and they enjoy playing with other small animals. Unfortunately, this may mean they attack wildlife native to your area, some species of which may be endangered.
If you live in an area with larger wild animals, your cats risk getting into fights with coyotes, foxes, racoons, and bears.
- Exposure to Disease and Parasites
Playing outdoors exposes your cats to ticks, fleas, parasites, and diseases from the environment and from other animals. Many of these illnesses can be prevented with vaccinations and few can be passed onto humans. Ticks can be detrimental for both humans and cats as they carry Lyme disease which can cause organ failure.
Always check your cat each time they return from outdoors for the presence of ticks and other parasites, and learn about which symptoms to look for that indicate your pet is suffering from a common cat disease.
- Exposure to Toxic Plants
Many common plant species grown in suburban gardens can be toxic to cats such as daffodils, daisies, azaleas, and hyacinth. Letting your cat roam outdoors means they are exposed to these botanicals which can cause a severe reaction ranging from vomiting to difficulty breathing. You can keep your cat safe in your yard by planting a garden with pet-friendly plant species.
- May Get Lost
If your cat is unfamiliar with the area, or in heat, they may wander too far from home and get lost. Many cat's curiosity gets the better of them and they can easily become disoriented.
Minimize the risk of losing your cat by equipping them with a microchip, collar and tag, and spaying or neutering them.
- Increased Risk of Injury
Cars are the leading cause of premature death in cats. It occurs most often at the kitten stage, as adult cats are more experienced and aware of the dangers cars pose. However, a poorly timed sprint across the road, or a speeding car can kill or injure your cat.
Keep Your Cat Safe Outdoors
- Cat Enclosure
A great way for your cat to enjoy the benefits of the outdoors without the risk is with a cat enclosure. An outdoor cat enclosure allows your cat to get plenty of exercise. Many models are equipped with obstacles, ramps and levels to keep your pet entertained.
They come in a huge variety of sizes from mini enclosures that are perfect for your patio or apartment balcony, to extra large styles that stretch the length of your entire backyard. Look for outdoor cat enclosures made from durable wood or metal with wire mesh panels which allow your pet a complete view of the environment.
Microchipping your cats allows you to track where your pet is located in case they are lost, and also helps animal shelters return your pet to you quickly reducing the stress to your cat.
The right course of vaccinations protect your can from diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. They also work to strengthen your cat's immune system. Consult your vet about your cat's vaccination schedule to make sure they are up to date. You should also ensure you regularly deworm your cats and apply flea repellent, as feline worms and fleas can pass to humans.
- Safety Collar
In addition to a microchip, a safety collar can help others to identify your cats and return them home if lost. You can also add accessories such as a bell to warn wildlife of your cat's presence, and reflective panels so cars can see your cat in low light.
Purchase a collar with an easy-break fastener to prevent choking and injury should the collar become stuck on a tree branch or structure as your cat explores.
Exploring the outdoors is necessary to maintain the physical and mental health of your cat. But it is essential to implement the appropriate safety measures to protect your cat before letting them roam outdoors.