Differences Between Indoor Cats And Outdoor Cats

Many people decide to take in pets based upon their childhood experiences with the same pet. For some people, that means choosing a Maine Coon over a tabby cat, but for others that means choosing to have an “outdoor cat” rather than an “indoor cat”. Today we want to talk about some of the differences between these two types of cats by looking at them from a veterinarian’s point of view.

close up of black cats eyes

What Are the Differences Between Indoor Cats and Outdoor Cats?

There are a good number of differences between indoor cats and outdoor cats. Most of these differences play a significant role in the overall health of your cat and their longevity.

-As we have discussed previously, the lifespan of an outdoor cat is significantly shorter than that of an indoor cat.

– Outdoor cats can be more readily exposed to diseases like feline leukemia (FeLV), feline AIDS (FIV), FIP (feline infectious peritonitis), feline distemper (panleukopenia) and upper respiratory infections (or URI).

– Outdoor cats can more readily pick up parasites including fleas, ticks, ear mites, intestinal worms, and ringworm.

– Cats do not have an inbred ability to avoid cars, so outdoor cats are frequently struck and killed on roads.

– Outdoor cats have a higher risk of getting into toxic items like antifreeze and oils.

– Outdoor cats can easily become prey to predatory animals like foxes, dogs, and coyotes.

– Outdoor cats can easily become tangled or trapped in trees without any way to get down.

Are there any benefits to a cat living an outdoor life? 

Many pet parents believe that outdoor cats have a happier life because they are given more opportunity to “act like cats”. These same pet parents think that keeping a cat indoors is unfair and limiting to a cat’s basic nature.

While there is certainly plenty for a cat to enjoy in the big wide world, it is important to take a few things into consideration.

Your domestic cat is not a wild cat

Domestic cats of today are a far cry from wild cats. Our domesticated pets have become used to living a life filled with “human comforts” and as such, they are less able to care for themselves in the wild. So, while you may think that a life outdoors offers your cat a more “natural” environment, remember that your pet cat is about as wild as you are!

A Sick Cat is Not a Happy Cat

Taking into account the numerous health conditions that outdoor cats are more susceptible to, it is hard to say that your cat would be happier outdoors. A sick cat is not a happy cat and a sick cat lives a much shorter life than a healthy cat.