Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats

The Indoor vs. Outdoor cat debate is probably one of the hottest topics among cat enthusiasts across the country. While both sides may agree that cats enjoy the outdoors and opportunities for exploration that it might offer, the dangers of allowing a cat to roam free outdoors are undeniable. Diseases like Feline Leukemia and Feline Infectious Pentonitis can be transferred between animals. Parasites like fleas, ticks, and heartworms can infect any mammal outdoors. People and other animals present dangers, both intentional and accidental, that have resulted in innumerable fatalities every year. Feral cats, those former pets that have since left their owners and now run wild in most parts of the country, have endangered the existence of wild bird and mammal populations.

Although cats can live perfectly healthy and full lives indoors, the presence of these hazards does not mean your cat can never be exposed to sunshine. Outdoor enclosures can be built in yards or porches to allow your pet some supervised sunshine. You can also train your cat to walk on a leash and make not only your outdoor adventures, but also trips to the vet or pet store, easier on both of you. When using a leash, be sure to have a sturdy and lightweight harness, not a collar. Collars are easy to slip out of and can choke the cat if it gets caught and the cat can't get out of it.

Leash training any pet can take some time and patience but does not have to be stressful for you or your animal. Start by exposing your cat to the new leash and harness – try placing it next to their favorite sleeping or play area for a few days. Next, place them in the harness and feed or play with him until he seems comfortable in it. Repeat this step for a few days, leaving the harness on longer every day. After he seems comfortable with the harness, add the leash. Monitor your cat while he wanders with the leash on to make sure it doesn't get tangled but allow him to behave normally while dragging the leash behind him. After he seems comfortable with this for a few days, repeat it while you hold on to the end of the leash and leave plenty of slack on the line. Once he's used to this, start coaxing him to follow you while you hold onto the leash but stop if he starts fighting the pull of the leash until he relaxes. Now he should be almost trained, and you'll just have to start exposing him to the outside a bit longer each time until he starts out-walking you every day!

This debate will likely never end, as with anything else, moderation and compromise probably will be the middle ground we'll rest on. Having an indoor cat does not mean completely depriving it of the outdoors, but having a strictly outdoor cat might mean the loss of a beloved pet.