For the longest time I struggled with the idea of depriving my three rescued-from-a-homeless-life felines the “joys” of outdoor exposure. As a result of my inner turmoil regarding this, for many years I kept letting my cats outdoors, to do their bidding and what “cats naturally do”. I thought I was providing them the full and rewarding lives they so richly deserved. Some of my friends and colleagues were sharing their thoughts about how outdoor cats tend to not live as long as indoor cats, though I tended not to heed their feedback as much more than their own opinions, and kept trusting what I thought was my “gut” in making the right decision by continuing to allow my three “boys” outdoor frolicking.
As I further researched this topic – in conjunction with discussions with my cats’ veterinarian – it seems that there is merit to considering offering an indoor life to cats, not to mention multiple benefits. The first – and very important – benefit is that indoors cats tend to live almost double the years that outdoor cats do. The average life span of cats that are allowed outdoors on a regular basis is around 7-8 years, while indoor cats – barring other health issues – is about 15 years.
There may be many factors, I’m sure, for this discrepancy. For one, the outdoor environment is more in flux regarding providing a stable healthy environment, with the risk of cats running into sick animals and getting infected with whatever is ailing them much higher than indoor animals’ exposure. Other risks involve territorial fights, with concurrent injuries. Death by auto – not to mention other animals; ie. dogs, fisher cats, other wild animals – are also risks of being outdoors.
The more I read about this, the more I became convinced that keeping my little ones indoors seemed like the way to go. I then began purchasing more “toys” to “simulate” some of the outdoor temptations cats love to partake in so much, such as a squeaky mouse, balls with catnip inside, etc. I also purchased a high quality cat condo (tree), as their “jungle gym”, to make as real as possible cats’ alluring draw to climbing, hiding, and nesting in tree tops.
Needless to say, over time I felt less and less that I was depriving my kids and more that I was offering a life which would potentially allow them a healthier existence, and more time on this planet as a result.
And, that makes their daddy very happy!