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Home and away: the whys and wherefores of indoor and outdoor cats

Home and away: the whys and wherefores of indoor and outdoor cats

From the newest kitten owners to old stager cat people, people cannot agree on whether cats should be encouraged to venture into the outside world, or whether they should be constantly kept inside away from danger.

One of the biggest challenges to the conventional belief that our feline friends should be allowed the freedom to roam is the revelation of recent statistics that show cats kept indoors live longer and enjoy better health than their outdoor cousins.

Living longer

To go by averages, indoor cats live for 12 years, while those that venture out to confront what life can throw at them can expect their short lives to end after less than five years.
On analysis, the number of indoor cat pros vastly outnumbers the indoor cat's cons.  Here is a quick list:

    •    Outdoor lives are threatened by busy roads and teeming traffic. Indoor cats enjoy the comforts of home.
    •    Indoor cats are protected in the main from the garden products, pesticides, discarded dangerous rubbish, rotten food,  poisonous plants and other poisons that lurk outside to threaten the outdoor roamers.
    •    Indoor cats have a much better chance of not contracting and, if they do, beating any infectious diseases than their outdoor counterparts. Many ailments including Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) are transmitted between cats so those outdoors who walk on the wild side are taking a much higher risk.
    •    Outdoor cats are much more likely to come into contact with parasites In Australia, for example, cats can be infected by paralysis ticks and if these wounds are not treated cats can die.
Walking on the wild side
    •    Dogs and wild animals, like snakes, foxes and possums often prey on cats that operate outdoors.
    •    Getting lost is a perennial worry for cat owners who allow their animals to explore outside - especially as less than 5% of cats taken to animal shelters are ever reclaimed by their owners.
    •    Indoor cats don't annoy the neighbors by defecating or urinating in a flower bed or vegetable plot.
    •    Cats are susceptible to skin cancer so those that are allowed to roam free are at greater risk from constant exposure to the sun.
    •    The Cats Protection League advocates that when owners go away they should leave their cats at home and arrange for a cat sitter to visit. This, the charity says, is because cats are healthier and happier because they love their home comforts and feel less stressed than their outdoor cousins.
    •    It is also a myth that indoor cats tend to be lazy and overweight.
Stay home at night

However, for those of us who like our cats to be able to enjoy the freedom of roaming outside, it is important to make sure the cat is indoors through the night - from dusk to dawn - when our fauna is at its most active.

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