Pet Science

Should I Let My Cat Go Outdoors? 3 Reasons to Keep Your Pet Inside

Keep Fluffy indoors for her protection.

Tempted to let your cat outside? To put it bluntly: don’t. Outdoor cats are a menace to the environment: Free-ranging domestic cats spread disease, encroach on wild animals’ food sources, and kill up to four billion birds annually. But letting your cat roam unsupervised outdoors is also potentially detrimental to your pet’s health.

Molly DeVoss, a certified feline training specialist who runs the nonprofit Cat Behavior Solutions, breaks down the top three reasons you should keep Mr. Whiskers safely indoors.

3. Toxic Threats

From antifreeze leaks to rodenticides to toxic plants to your neighbor’s bug spray, there are countless toxins out there waiting to poison your pet. DeVoss says some homeowners may even leave intentional toxins in their yards to deter cats from defecating on their lawns. To keep your pet safe from these harms, keep them indoors.

“We don’t consider how many toxins there are in the outdoor environment,” DeVoss tells Inverse.

The outdoors are hazardous to cats and their prey alike.

Nina Dumitru / 500px/500px/Getty Images

2. Fighting with Other Cats

Hearing cats hiss and screech at each other early in the morning isn’t a fun wake-up call for anyone — and it’s a likely outcome if you let your pet leave the house unsupervised. Your cat may also defensively wind up marking its territory — your home — with urine or feces.

Letting your pet interact with strange felines outside the home can be a problem for another reason: your cat may wind up smelling like the other cat. And that’s a problem when you have multiple cats living under your roof since they recognize each other by scent.

“When one, or more of them, go outdoors, they come back in smelling differently and often get confused with a territory invader,” DeVoss says.

1. Shorter Lifespan

While being outdoors can enrich your feline’s sense of play, it comes at a cost to their lifespan. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that free-roaming cats live three years on average compared to indoor cats, which live between 12 to 18 years.

If you want to safely engage your pet in the outdoors, consider getting them an enclosed “catio” that offers the benefits of roaming outdoors without the risks.

“For all the risks and threats they encounter outdoors, cats who are free-roaming live shorter lives,” DeVoss says.

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