Whether to let your cat roam outside is a struggle for many cat owners. Many different opinions exist on this subject. Some professionals advise strongly against ever allowing your cat outside, while others say that time outdoors can be very good for your cat. Other considerations include when and how to let your cat outside.
For example, some cat owners would never let their cat outside alone. Some people would take the cat for short walks on a leash or in a cat stroller, only on supervised outings. Weighing the pros and cons of allowing your cat outside can help you make an informed decision for your feline friend.
Letting your cat roam outdoors has been reported to have several benefits. One plus of allowing your cat outside is that outdoor cats generally get more exercise than indoor cats. Owners of indoor cats often struggle to keep their cat’s weight in a healthy range. Obesity is a common problem among indoor cats. By letting your cat outside, you give your cat the chance to build muscle and burn extra calories. This can help keep your cat healthy and fit. Another benefit of letting your cat outdoors is that is gives your cat the chance to express natural hunting instincts. Cats are born to climb, scratch, and pounce.
Being outside gives your cat the opportunity to express these natural behaviors in a safer setting. Also, scratching, climbing, and pouncing outside is much better than in your living room. Cats who are allowed outside also have the chance to have a healthy mental outlet. The stimulation provided by being outdoors is difficult to reproduce inside the house, even with a variety of cat toys. Cats who are allowed to roam outdoors can have access to a higher level of mental stimulation. This can help the overall mental health of your cat.
Outdoor cats also usually eliminate outdoors. This can be a substantial benefit to cat owners who prefer to keep their house completely odor-free. If your cat eliminates primarily outdoors, the problem of a smelly litter box can become irrelevant. Giving your cat the chance to eliminate outdoors also allows the cat to behave in a more natural way.
The main reason why many professionals advise against letting your cat outside is safety. Many dangerous things are outside that can potentially harm your cat. Cars, other animals, rough children, cruel people, and diseases are just some of the possible dangers that exist outside your front door. According to veterinarian Dr. Eric Barchas from Catster.com, letting your cat outside is a bad idea. He says that just like smoking shortens the life expectancy of people, letting your cat outside shortens its life expectancy. The numerous dangers that exist outside can be a real risk to your cat’s health.
One major risk in letting your cat outside is the possibility of picking up a disease. Cats are natural hunters, and they will likely try to hunt small prey outdoors. Rodents, lizards, and other small animals often carry various diseases that can make your cat very ill. In addition, the droppings left behind by other animals can contain various diseases and parasites. If your cat touches or ingests any of this infected matter, he can become very sick. Tapeworm is a very common parasite picked up by cats allowed to roam freely outdoors. Also, the disease feline AIDS is a lethal illness that cannot be prevented by vaccination. Cats who are allowed to go outside are at a higher risk of catching feline AIDS. The only completely safe way to prevent your cat from any risk of feline AIDS is to keep the cat inside at all times.
Another danger of letting your cat go outdoors is the risk of being hit by a passing car or bicycle. Cats do not have good instincts about when it is safe to cross a street. Your cat may seem to have very fast reflexes and good instincts overall. However, cats often cross busy streets and can get run over by a passing vehicle very easily. Avoiding this danger involves keeping your cat indoors, or only taking the cat outdoors in a controlled way. Keeping your cat on a leash or in a cat stroller while outdoors can help prevent the possibility of your cat getting struck by a car.
A safe way to bring your cat outside could be to use a leash and special harness. The harness should be very lightweight and designated for cats. To get your cat used to the harness and leash, leave them in your cat’s sleeping area for a few days. This helps your cat get used to the smell and feel of the leash and harness. Then, try gently draping the harness and leash over your cat, without fastening it. Feed your cat a treat to reward him for his calmness. This helps your cat to associate the harness and leash with positive feedback. Finally, try fastening the lightweight harness to your cat and feeding him a treat again. Let your cat run around freely inside the house with the harness. This allows your cat to get used to the feel of the harness on his body in a safe environment.
Only after your cat has accepted the harness and leash, and is not scared, can you begin to venture outside. Keep in mind that cats do not walk briskly on a leash like dogs. The walk outside is for the cat’s benefit. Therefore, you should walk as slowly as the cat wants to. Let your cat decide the pace of the walk. Allow your cat to smell things as you go, but make sure to keep him far away from anything dangerous. Also, make sure that the harness fits properly. Cats have been known to slip out of harnesses and run into the street. Ensuring that the harness fits snugly can help you keep your cat away from potential dangers. By teaching your cat to walk calmly on a leash, you can enjoy the benefits of taking your cat outdoors in a safe way.