The phrase “outside cat” often comes with some criticism. Most cat parents would never even think about allowing their beloved feline to roam around the great outdoors. But what if your cat wanted to?
There are pros and cons to just about any scenario and deciding whether or not to let your cat be an outdoor cat is no exception. Sure, there are some risks, but there are several benefits as well.
Timid vs. Escapee
Cats are naturally very curious creatures. Most of them love to explore new environments when given the opportunity. However, some cats are timider and prefer to stay indoors curled up on the couch.
That is perfectly fine. No cat owner should force their cat to be outside if they don’t want to.
On the other hand, say your cat is a rescue who was originally a stray. They are used to being outdoors and may even prefer it, at least part of the time.
If your cat is an escape artist and enjoys sneaking out an open door or window, they might be trying to tell you that they are bored and want to be let out to explore.
“Let me out!”
Does your cat sit at the door and meow like there’s no tomorrow? It is likely their way of saying “let me out of here!” If some cats aren’t getting enough stimulation indoors, then they will begin to crave the outdoors.
While it's important to have items indoors to keep your cats entertained, such as toys or a scratching post, nothing compares to the mental stimulation that can be achieved from roaming outdoors.
Releasing pent-up energy is healthy for any living, breathing animal, including cats. Think about it, your cat could be out scratching a tree trunk instead of ripping up your favorite piece of furniture!
It is also obvious that outdoor cats get much more exercise than indoor cats, so they end up burning more calories, and thus, maintain a healthier body weight.
To run with the big dogs or to stay on the porch?
If you live on several acres of land and the nearest neighbor is a short drive away, chances are you let your dog roam free. Why not permit your cat to do the same?
A cat that longs for the outdoors might get upset when the dogs are allowed to free-roam but they are not. Animals are more in tune with their feelings than the average human may realize!
If your cat wants to be let outside but you are apprehensive about it, you can start with letting them out under your supervision to test the waters. Allow them to come outside with you when you’re sitting on the back patio or walking to get the mail.
You could even purchase a leash that’s meant for cats to slowly expose them to the outdoors while they remain close to you.
Also, it is understandable to worry about unwanted dirt that will inevitably be picked up by your cat’s fur if they are outside. Luckily, there is an incredibly handy (no pun intended) grooming tool to help ease your mind.
The De-shedding Grooming Glove removes excess hair from your cat while the soft spikes simultaneously massage them. It is available in a right-handed and left-handed glove that easily slips over your hand.
The hair clings to the spikes on the glove and easily peels off when you are ready to dispose of it. While cats are no strangers to grooming themselves, helping them out by removing excess hair means fewer hairballs produced by them!
They will let you know when they are ready to come in
Cats can be communicative when they choose to be. They will be more than happy to let you know when they are ready to come back inside, just as they let you know when they want to go out.
At the end of the day, cats are still domestic pets and they know where their home is. Of course, some of them appreciate going out on excursions, but they also enjoy knowing where their next meal is coming from and having a warm place to curl up at night.
If you are not supervising your cat when they are roaming outdoors, as in they are out of your sight, it's important to remain around your home so you are there when your furry friend is ready to be let inside.
What about when it rains?
Sometimes the weather can change unexpectedly. It is no secret that most domestic cats don’t like water, but they always have the option to come back inside when it rains.
If your cat is incredibly independent, they might even find shelter somewhere outdoors. Regardless, as mentioned above, it’s still important to keep an eye out for them waiting to be let inside, especially if the weather is predicted to be bad.
Even the most indoor-loving cats still have the urge to catch a mouse should they see one. It’s just in their nature. Cats love to hunt and providing them the opportunity to stalk prey outdoors is ideal. It is very mentally stimulating for them.
Mindy Cohan, a small animal veterinarian in the Philadelphia area, says that exposure to live prey outdoors allows cats to practice their natural hunting activities.
She also says that cats hunting outdoors “serves as an outlet for stalking and aggression that might otherwise be directed towards other pets or family members."
This is an interesting take on the outdoor cat lifestyle and it seems logical. Even if they don't end up killing their prey, stalking, and chasing after it allows the cat to blow off steam and exercise its instincts.
While the topic of outdoor cats can be controversial, it is not a bad idea for cat owners to do some research on it. You don’t have to turn them completely loose, but allowing your cat to be outdoors for some time each day might be beneficial for them. Just pay attention to their behavior!