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Remember Your Beloved Pet
Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cats
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M Duffy Jones, DVM posted:
Is it better to have an inside cat or an outside cat? This is a question I get all the time. But it really depends on the animal and the pet owner's situation.

Personally, I would prefer if all cats stayed inside and never went out. It's a rough and scary place out there, even in the best neighborhoods. Outdoor cats are up against cars, other cats, dogs, wildlife, and more. And don't forget all the parasites cats can pick up from being outside, or the possible exposure to both natural and man-made toxins. Not a day goes by in my practice when we are not treating an injured cat due to one of these hazards.

With that being said, I do understand that the outdoor-indoor decision is not always so black and white. My family cat, Sally, was a stray barn cat that someone brought to my office. She had just had kittens and had already lived a tough life outside. I fell in love with her. So I had her spayed, vaccinated, and cleaned her up. I brought her home to live with my family, and my plan was to keep her inside for the rest of her life. She would have regular meals, a clean litter box, and kids to play with -- a perfect and safe life.

My plan lasted all of one week. For the first week, she was happy indoors and loved all the attention. She got along with my kids and my dogs. But then she started standing by the door, wanting to get out. Having been a barn cat, she had some real street smarts. So when I tried to slip in and out of the front door, she learned to hide across the room and dart for the door when opened. And she was fast, so she got out often.

One day, when as I was trying to get her back inside, I noticed how she was just sitting on our deck, looking happy in the sun. Right then I realized that my everyday struggle to keep her inside was no good for either of us. She was much happier going outside. So I rethought my plan and concluded that there are some pets you just cannot keep indoors. She was miserable being inside all the time. And as soon as we started letting her out -- making her an indoor-outdoor cat -- she was happy.

In appreciation for my change of heart, she rewarded us daily with "gifts" that she'd catch outside. The only problem was that her "gifts" were usually alive, resulting in our having to chase a chipmunk, squirrel, bird, mole, and even a snake out of our house. My wife still hasn't recovered!

As a veterinarian, I would love for all pets to live inside in controlled environments without the exposure to so many outdoor dangers. But for many animals this is torture. If you have a cat like Sally, the best you can do is try to protect it as much as you can. Keep its flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives current. Try to get it to stay in your yard away from cars, and watch it carefully for any signs of trauma or abscesses.

What has influenced you to allow or prevent your cat from going outdoors? What steps do you take to keep your wandering cat as safe, healthy, and protected as you can?
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FLKittez responded:
My cats were always indoor/outdoor, but I was aware this wasn't in their best interests. During the elder years of my last pets, I converted them to indoor only. My current 3 cats enjoy indoor living, only, which makes us all happy. They special needs kitties adopted from Humane Society, never owned, rarely sheltered. They are living a wonderful life with my home & large screened porch as their domain - now 12 years old and we're all happy!
 
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Dev05 responded:
I have 3 cats 1 was born inside and the other 2 where rescuse
Kitties. Rocky ( the indoor born kitty) we kept in for a few
months untill he was about 6 months and he started
wanting to go out. so we let him and one day we found him
with a broken leg we still dont know how he broke it. For a
while he never wanted outside but after about a year he started wandering back out . And now its been 3 years and we moved to a quiet neighborhood he loves to go in the back but he stays close to the yard. And if ur outside he Loves to join you. He will
actually stand at the door and when you go to open it he walks away and meows at you , untill you walk out with him. Now my
other 2 cats wanted out from the start. My youngest cat scares me he has no fear ! He walks right up to dogs and cats and even opposums. I have notice my outdoor born kitties have seem to have a nautral street smart. So i just make sure all my cats have thier break away colars with ID ( & they are mircochiped) I keep them flea and worm free. I do make them come inside at dark ( once in a while one of them will end up staying the night outside but i usasly find them sleeping in the dog house we keep in the back yard. So i beileve its best to let them be indoor and out ( even if you build an outdoor cage)
 
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Denver111 responded:
my experience has been indoor cats are safer and free from predators. they may get bored and chubby so keep them active with toys and the right amount of food.
 
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M Duffy Jones, DVM replied to FLKittez's response:
It sounds like a great life for these cats. Great job keeping them safe and happy.
 
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M Duffy Jones, DVM replied to Dev05's response:
I am sorry to hear about your cat that broke his leg. Some just will not stay inside but it sounds like he is much smarter about going outside now. There is always risk of injury when they go outside.

I love what you are doing with the break away collars, microchips, flea medicine, and keeping them in at night. It sounds like you are taking great care of them. Keep up the good work and tell the youngest one to be careful. The cats without much fear can get themselves into trouble especially when encountering wildlife.
 
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M Duffy Jones, DVM replied to Denver111's response:
I agree, however as I learned with my own cat, some will not stay indoors only. I wish I could explain to them all the dangers out in the real world and convince them all to stay inside. Even if I could, I still think some of the cats will still ignore my advice. Like the old saying says "Dogs have owners and cats have staff"


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