Indoor Versus Outdoor Cats. How To Decide What Is Best For Your Feline Pets

When you come to the decision to own a cat, one of the most asked questions is usually, what are the pros and cons of owning indoor versus outdoor cats? There are many reasons for even asking this question in the first place, and you may feel guilty keeping him indoors all the time, or you may worry that you are keeping him from his natural habitat. However, it isn’t cruel to have an indoor only cat, but let us take a closer look at the pros, and cons of keeping a cat indoors versus outdoors so you can make an informed decision on what you should do for your own personal preference, and your cats. Here is a photo of Oscar, our cat, who is an outdoor cat during the day but an indoor one at night!

indoor versus outdoor cats

Indoor Versus Outdoor Cats – The Pros and Cons of Each

1. The Pros Of Having An Indoor Cat.

An indoor cat can be a great pet, being there when you come home from work, plus you also know that he is going to be safe, because there are many threats outside and potential dangers. Another reason for keeping an indoor cat is protecting him from potential diseases that can be caught from other animals, some life threatening. There is also the point of him not being able to bring unwanted pests into your home, like fleas, ticks and mites, all of which are considerably difficult to remove once they are in.

Of course, it sounds like an indoor cat would be the way to go, but there are considerations you need to take into account, if you decide to go with an indoor only cat. Indoor cats need to still get their exercise and interaction, this means you have to either play with them more often, or give them an alternative, like a playmate. Many cats get on well with another pet, either a dog or another cat, but if that is not your preference, then you should make sure he has plenty of interactive toys, scratching posts, and places to climb and hide.

Having an indoor cat does have many benefits, and is less of a worry than an outdoor cat, but you will still have to make time to interact with him and allocate some playtime each day. Having said that, even interactive toys can get boring after a while, so consider getting him a new toy every now and then to keep interaction, and hunting skills in tip top shape. Great toys to keep him occupied are laser toys, or the more traditional kitty fishing pole type toy ( see picture below ), which is ideal for when you are home and ready to play with him.

indoor versus outdoor cats

The Cons Of Having An Indoor Cat.

There aren’t many cons of having an indoor cat, although there are things to keep an eye on with an indoor cat, such as if he gets bored, he may start to find things to do that you don’t like, like scratching up the curtains or furniture and other bad behavior habits. Also, there is the chance that the indoor cat can become clingy when you are home, and may suffer from separation issues when you are not there. That said, with plenty of interaction when you are home, and interactive toys for him to use when you’re not, he should be just fine. Another point to mention about indoor cats, is that you need to watch his weight, as indoor cats are more prone to obesity, which in turn can lead to health conditions.

The Pros Of Having An Outdoor Cat.

The outdoor cat definitely gets more than his fair share of exercise, and without a doubt there are more places for him to explore. Moreover, he will be able to hone his hunting skills, and have a lot of interaction with other animals and cats while out there in the wild. Also, he will be less likely to become overweight outdoors due to the amount of climbing, hunting, and running around he will be doing.

indoor versus outdoor cats

The Cons Of Having An Outdoor Cat.

With an outdoor cat, there is so much more you have to consider, especially when it comes to the cons, for instance, cars and other vehicles can be a constant threat unless you live outside of town. The potential for catching disease is much greater too, due to other cats in the area, or feral cats, which can carry disease, or even other animals like raccoons, foxes, possums and more. Moreover, there is a greater chance of him being hurt in a fight with another cat, or worse, being attacked by other wild animals, in which case he can be hurt anywhere from a minor cut to a life threatening injury with the potential of getting rabies.

When deciding to have an outdoor cat, you will have to make regular appointments with your vet, and make sure your cat gets any preventative medications necessary for an outside cat. Some diseases your cat may come into contact with while outdoors can be potentially fatal, like feline AIDS or FIV for short, feline leukemia, FIP which stands for feline infectious peritonitis, feline distemper, and some upper respiratory infections. Many cats outdoors also come into contact from poisons, whether it be antifreeze in an open garage, or ingesting a recently killed animal like a mouse that has recently been poisoned.

Safety Measures For Outside Cats.

To protect your cat from many of the dangers of being outside, you may want to consider letting him out only when someone can supervise him at all times. Alternatively, you can walk him on a leash, or have an enclosed area in your garden for him to exercise, but not come into contact with other cats in the area. Additionally, be sure to visit your vet at least once a year to be screened, and tested for parasites and such, and be given those life saving vaccinations.

indoor versus outdoor cats

Finally, it is wise to think about the environment when it comes to letting your cat outdoors, as cats are natural hunters that regularly kill birds. Moreover, with millions of stray cats killing birds, your cat will only add to that number, especially if you have bird feeders, and bird baths around the garden or in your neighbors garden.


We hope this article has given you food for thought when it comes time to decide whether to have an indoor cat, or an outdoor cat, and remember it has to be for the benefit of both you and your cat..


Your Feedback Matters to me!!! I can’t answer if you don’t ask!! Any Questions?? Use the comments section below and I will respond.


Author: James Kelly

James Kelly is a network marketer and blogger who earns a living from affiliate programs and blogs

18 thoughts on “Indoor Versus Outdoor Cats. How To Decide What Is Best For Your Feline Pets”

  1. I do remember the days of having an indoor cat and it was great seeing her grow up from a kitten because she was very playful but she scratched a lot too. LOL. In fact, we also had a rabbit and they used to chase one another around the sofa in the loungs haha. However, there were periods when the cat brought home dead birds and left a mess in different areas of the house. So there are definitely pros and cons.

    I’d never thought of actually taking a cat outside on a leash but I guess it makes sense if ut keeps he/she out of mischief. I’ve now gotta decide whether my next cat will be indoor or outside.

    Thanks for the article 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comments Neil. This is often a very controversial subject with heated debate on the merits or otherwise of having an indoor or outdoor cat. Generally I have favored having an outdoor cat that is allowed to roam free during the day but is brought in at night. However my son did have an expensive female cat at our house that whilst she was with us remained indoors for the most part except on few occasions when she was left out on a leash and supervised all the time. She now lives at my son’s house and remains an indoor cat which she doesn’t seem to mind too much as she is always in the company of his other indoor cat.


    2. This is good food for thought. I moved from a safer wooded burn to the city. My chubby girl was fat as an outdoor/ indoor cat. Her weight is stable since coming indoors only. I know have 2 flights of stairs my cats can run up and down. My chubby gets special out door chase time and indoor wand time separate from the other 2 maniacs who bully her out of playing with them. We have three automated red dot toys, 5 climbing towers and a screen porch for critter watching.

      Healthy cats come from healthy habits and portion control, not environment. Outdoor cats have a very high mortality rate, indoor do not.

      1. Thank you for your feedback Liza. Wow with the 2 flights of stairs and all those toys and climbing apparatus you certainly have an indoor environment that will help you cats be active. You are right healthiness comes from good nutrition and healthy habits which include exercise. This applies equally to cats AND their owners.


    3. My Cat is both an in and outside cat but most of your article is true. I think it’s mean to keep him inside! Sometimes I can’t get him to go outside and vice versa! Tu

  2. Hi James.

    I actually prefer outdoor cats. I grew up with stray cats. Those that you found in back alleys. People who don’t understand cats tend to stereotype stray cats. But they each have their own character and behaviour.

    As they need to survive on their own, they are more independent. We don’t really have to worry about them. But as they became domesticated, they will rely on humans to feed them.

    You had your point when you mentioned of outdoor cats potentially get injured in fights. Not only that, sometimes their wounds would get infected. I guess that would be cause for concern.


    1. Thanks for that feedback Kenny. Our current cat Oscar, a gorgeous ginger tom, was also a stray for over a year before we took pity on him and made him part of our family. The main problem we originally discovered was that as a stray he often had to forage for food wherever he could find it and had an insatiable appetite when we took him in because in his mind he never knew where his next meal would come from! However after a few months of receiving his meals at regular intervals he settled down being reassured that his owners would be feeding him. I also agree with with you that former strays are very independent.


  3. I used to have an outdoors cat! I kind of miss her now after reading this post! ;u;

    I haven’t had any cats recently though (my new place already has a dog and the owners won’t let us have pets, especially since this dog is particularly argumentative haha!) but I’ve been planning on getting one once I have a place of my own, whenever that may be. I think this time around I’ll get an indoor cat, so I’ll definitely follow your tips when I get one. I was thinking a ragdoll cat… Are ragdolls usually indoors cats?

    Thanks for the wonderful post!

      1. Aaah Lily is the cutest! I especially love that pic of her inside the cardboard box… Cats really do love their boxes, don’t they? Haha!

        I can’t wait to get a ragdoll, they’re adorable.

  4. I haven’t thought about this information about cats. So there are both indoors and outdoors cat. That’s new to me. The indoor cats do they ever go out? And the outdoor cats are they always outside? What’s the difference between them?

    I think I would have like to have an indoor cat because I would be so anxious to get something in my house like at the dead mouse. I hate mouses. They scare me even if they are much smaller than me lol.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you Tove for thoughts on this subject. As mentioned above Oscar, our cat, is both a predominantly outdoor cat during the day and an indoor cat at night. We make sure that he is in by nightfall as cats fight a lot at nights and we don’t want expensive vet bills!You are right that cats that are outdoors most of the time do occasionally bring indoors the spoils of their hunting expeditions! On one occasion we intercepted our cat trying to leave a dead bird under our bed!! Owners of expensive cats often prefer them to be indoors all the time to prevent them catching diseases and infections and being involved in fights with other cats. It is important for these owners to make sure that their cats ado not become bored and lethargic. They need to provide lots of cat toys around the house together with climbing and scratching items of cat furniture to ensure their cat is active.


  5. Your article makes me sad…. how can it possibly be of benefit to the cat never to be allowed outside or outside only a leash? Never to bask and sleep in the sun, climb trees, chase and catch birds, moles, mice, grasshoppers and other bugs and little creatures? Is it then worth having been born a cat?

    I understand the benefit to the owner…. the owner never has to worry about safety, cat getting caught and bit by a dog or run over by a car; or… cat getting dirty or falling into a drum of muddy water and looking more like drowned rat that snazzy snotty cat. But to imprison such an independent creature for one’s own peace of mind? Better not to have a cat than do that.

    (I draw a line at chameleons – they can’t run away. There cat gets distracted with sardines or tuna.
    Okay! I’m a very well-trained humie.)

    1. Thanks for your comments. My article was meant to provoke thoughts from readers on this controversial subject. Hunting and chasing instincts are natural inborn behaviors in a cat and outdoor cats get all the exercise they need from these pursuits whether from predatory habits ( climbing trees to get at birds etc ) or playing with other cats. If you are going to keep a cat indoors you have to replicate this by playing with your cat, getting him to jump up at feathers on a fishing pole, chasing balls, wound up toy mice etc. Also you need to provide him with plenty of climbing items of cat furniture and scratching posts.


  6. I don’t mind cats, but my husband is adamant that we never get one. However, lately we seem to have a mice problem as the weather starts to cool down for fall and they somehow seem to get into our brand-newly built home. After using all sorts of traps and things (which we don’t want around because we have three little boys) I told him that we just might have to get a cat. But he wouldn’t want an indoor cat, but an outdoor cat. Do you think it’s possible to solve this mice problem while still having an outdoor cat?

    1. Thank you Sarah for those comments. Well we do keep Oscar who is out most of the day in at night. Mice are generally more active at night so having a cat in the house during that period should solve your problem. Also mice will generally steer clear of your house if they know there is a resident cat there


  7. Hi, Jim!

    Great article! Loved reading your take on indoor vs outdoor cats.
    I currently have 3 cats, one that has always been outdoor primarily, but always has come inside to eat and get some love. He is now going on 15 years old, and as his health has gone downhill, has become more of an indoor cat, meaning he spends more time inside than outside, but still wants to come and go as he pleases! I can share the cons of having an outdoor cat too; he has been hit by a car once, which resulted in his rear leg being broken in two places, and he got into some kind of accident that resulted in the end of his tail having to be amputated. Thankfully he recovered from both, and will always be a mostly outdoor cat.
    My second cat, who is 12, was an indoor cat for 10 years, then about 5 years ago she decided she wanted to go outside. And, there was no keeping her inside after that. Thankfully, she is a very shy cat, who loves to stay up as high as she can get. She is very skittish so I feel pretty safe about her being outside. She also comes inside for food and loving.
    The third cat is only an inside cat. She’s been out on a leash, but that’s it. The reason being, she is satisfied being in the house, and she’s a very attractive and not afraid of strangers or dogs. So she would be gone soon after being outside for any length of time alone.
    Thanks for sharing this post!

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