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The Dangers of Indoor/Outdoor Living for Your Cat

Cats that live indoors and outdoors have inherent dangers that can be life-threatening or even life ending. In fact, many major pet interest organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Human Society of the United States encourage indoor-only living for cats.

However, many cat owners can’t shake the guilty feeling they get from not allowing their cats the ability to exercise and enjoy all that the outdoors offers…and so the door opens. But don’t fool yourself: allowing your cat access to the outdoors is ignoring a number of hazards.


Here are some of the most common dangers for outdoor cats:

Poisons: Chemically treated lawns, rodenticide for pesky vermin, antifreeze, a jungle of toxic plants… there are countless poisons lurking outdoors. Should your cat become poisoned and make it home, you won’t know the cause of the illness and neither will your vet, narrowing the chances for survival.

Cars: Vehicular trauma is one of the most commons sources of injury in cats. Don’t assume that your cat will be afraid of cars and run away from the road. Animals who are scared, threatened, or ill may behave unpredictably.

Disease transmission: While keeping cats indoors provides great protection against diseases such as FIV (feline AIDS), feline leukemia virus (FeLV), and parasites, letting a cat have access to the outdoors greatly increases the chances that your cat will be exposed to these very diseases. (Some health problems, especially certain parasites, can in turn be passed onto you.)

Injury from fighting: Cats are territorial and will defend their home, often to the death. Even if the fight doesn’t escalate to that point, limbs get broken, eyes are lost, abscesses can develop, and all usually require costly surgery and weeks of treatment.

Permanent separation: A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association looked at 53 animal shelters across the U.S. and found that less than 2% of lost cats who entered the shelters were reunited with their families. Think your cat is exempt from this statistic because they are microchipped? Wrong. The return-to-owner rate for microchipped cats is higher, but not by much: a sad 38%.

Wildlife dangers: Outdoor cats rank below many predators in the food chain and become easy targets for dogs, coyotes, possums, birds of prey, and native big cats. Still predators themselves, cats can also get diseases from the animals they hunt while outside. Ever hear of toxoplasmosis? How about rabies?

People: Sad as it is, humans pose a significant threat to your cat’s safety while outdoors. Not all people are animal lovers. All it takes is one person who wants to get rid of them such as an irate neighbor with a BB gun or an overzealous pest control company.

Despite knowing these perils, many cat parents recklessly continue to open the door, convinced that their cat is bored without the stimulation of the outdoors. What these owners are missing is that there is so much you can do to make the indoors more interesting!


I hope these tips help you understand some of the outdoor dangers for cats. You now know the dangers of letting your cat roam outdoors and even some fun ways to bring the outdoors in. Please consider keeping your kitties inside!