Cats are natural explorers and curious by nature. While some cats are wary of venturing into an unknown environment full of unfamiliar sensory experiences, others prefer to be outdoors. And while it’s great to offer your outdoor cat a chance to explore and tap into their feral instincts, caring for your outdoor cat differs from the way you care for your indoor cat who prefers to stay snuggled up inside.
Before you decide to let your cat roam, there are a few factors to consider. Read on to understand why cats like the outdoors, along with preventive protective measures you can take to ensure your outdoor cat stays safe when it strays from home.
Why Cats Prefer to Be Outdoors
Cats are natural hunters, and being outdoors helps them put those instinctual behaviors into practice, like pouncing, scaling trees, rolling in the grass, and experiencing new stimulating sights and smells. Being outdoors also provides cats with more opportunity to get physical activity, as they’re free to roam and explore outside of the confined walls of your home.
However, outdoor cats encounter more threats than indoor cats, which puts them at a greater risk of deadly accidents – being hit by a car; ingesting toxic substances found in gardens and garages; being attacked by another animal; contracting diseases from wild animals; getting stuck or trapped; getting lost and not being able to find their way home, to name just a few.
How to Keep Your Outdoor Cat Safe and Healthy
Because of all of the potential threats they’re exposed to, outdoor cats, on average, have a much shorter lifespan than indoor cats – by as much as 10 – 12 years! But if your cat insists on being outdoors, there are some proactive measures you can take to help keep them safer while they’re away from your home.
Make Sure They Can Be identified
Invest in a cat collar with tags so, if your cat is found wandering around unknown territory, a helpful neighbor can contact you to come to your cat’s rescue. It’s also helpful to invest in GPS tracking so you can keep tabs on your tabby. You can either discuss microchipping your outdoor cat with your veterinarian, or purchase a tracking device to place on their collar.
Keep Vet Visits Up-to-Date
Regular wellbeing checks with your vet helps ensure your cat stays up-to-date on vaccinations, which can help protect them from diseases like rabies when they’re out in the wild. This also gives you an opportunity to be a responsible pet owner by providing your cat with proper flea and tick treatment so they don’t end up with infections (or bring fleas back into your home!).
Leave Out Plenty of Food and Water
A cat’s sense of smell is fourteen times stronger than humans, and they can smell their food at home from over a mile away. Be sure to always leave out plenty of food and water for your cat to return home to so they stay well fed and taken care of.
Provide Indoor Stimulation
Being outdoors gives cats the ability to hunt and prowl, providing them with stimulating exercise and excitement. As Cuteness suggests, if your cat seems desperate to go outdoors, what they really might be craving is more entertainment and stimulation, both of which you can provide indoors.
Before you open the door to feline freedom, consider investing in more toys to stimulate your cat’s natural instincts, like cat wands, which tap into their instinctive nature to pounce and hunt – it could add up to a decade to your beloved cat’s life!
Whether you decide to keep your cat indoors or let them venture outside is ultimately up to you. If you do decide to let your cat roam, just be sure to follow these tips to ensure they stay safe and healthy while away from home.