Guest Post: Indoor or Outdoor Cat?

Our post today by Dr Rex Riggs addresses the indoor/outdoor dilemma that we all face as cat owners. I have one cat, Lily, who goes out during the day and two younger cats, Rocket and Rosie (aka The Kittens) who stay in all the time.  I know which one I have to take to the vet for accidents more - Lily. And there's that fox that runs by our house every now and then... Here's what Dr Riggs has to say on the topic.

Indoor or outdoor? That is the question. The question I get when a new kitten comes in for its initial shots.  My answer…..keep the cat inside! I don’t hesitate. There is nothing good for a cat to be outside.  I will get people who grow up on a farm or in the country and they say “we always had cats that were outside cats, that is where they should be.” Then I ask “what were the names of the 10 cats you had growing up?

The outside is full of dangers for our feline friends and their lifespan is greatly diminished.  I know I will not convince everyone but I will try to convince you to keep your cat indoors.

Cats can decimate the rabbits, chipmunks moles and any other little critters you can think up.  It is estimated they only bring home 30% of the little carcasses as presents for you.  They eat about 20% of what the catch and leave about half just to rot. Cats are the only other creature other then man, to kill for sport.

Eating raw carcasses is. like buying sushi at a gas station. It is never a good thing.  A number of parasites are passed this way, including intestinal worms, toxoplasmosis, tapeworms and various other disease-causing nasties.  These not only are potentially dangerous to your pet but also to you and your family.  Children can get what is called visceral larva migranes, in which immature worms get into the body of kids and migrate to the eyes and brain.  This is very rare but is a threat.

While we are on the subject of eating, I am sure all of you are aware of the influx of coyotes in every part of the US. These are one of the most adaptable creatures around and can, and do, live just as comfortable in the city as in the country.  They are very efficient hunters.  They love cats, not for their companionship, but to dine on.  If a cat is outside and there are coyotes around, it is often just a matter of time.

What about viral diseases that are passed from cats to other cats.  Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, Herpes and Calici virus are just of the few of viruses that are passed from cat to cat, either through bite wounds or direct contact.  This year we were “lucky” to get the Black Footed Tick, better know as the Deer Tick in our area.  This is the tick responsible for Lymes disease.  These are the size of a freckle and can be carried by the cat right into your warm house. You do not want Lyme disease!

Lastly we need to talk about fleas.  This has been a bad year for fleas and ticks mainly because….it is 65 degrees in central Ohio in December!  I would bet that these warm winters will be with us for a while, and that means the bugs will just hang around also.  Fleas are having a heyday.  Did you know that if you throw 3 adult fleas in you house, that within a month, you will have 250,000 fleas in your carpet??  You don’t want a quarter of a million fleas in your carpet.

I could go on and on with the subject, but if you can’t tell by now that I think letting your cat outside is mistake, I won’t convince you. 

Now having an indoor cat does require some work on your part.  Don’t just fill up a bowl of food and walk away.  It is best to feed your cat two equal servings daily, and only use ¾ of the amount recommended on the bag. The Indoor Pet Initiatives is a great website which was set up by Dr Tony Buffington of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine that has good ideas to keep you pet happy indoors. I highly recommend it. 

Related Posts
December is All About Cats at Embrace Pet Insurance

Other posts by Dr Riggs


Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.