The idea of keeping a cat permanently indoors is controversial to some people. However, to many people it is a no-brainer. It is common sense, they would say, to keep a cat indoors permanently. The cat is safer and the people who care for the cat are safer too. Plus it is much more convenient.
There are, though, hazards inside the home for a cat! And the nature of the environment itself can be hazardous to a cat’s health. What happens behind closed doors? A lot of things happen behind closed doors that no one other than the people behind the doors know about. For example, if the cat’s owner is doing a poor job of cat caretaking and the indoor environment is stressful for a cat, he or she might be better off getting out provided the outside environment was relatively safe. In fact it might suit the human as well.
Here are some indoor cat facts. I have put them in a table for easy reference. Tables also cut out waffle…
|Criterion||Fact/Number/%||Source of Information|
|In the UK what percentage of cats are confined to the home?||8.4%||I. Rochlitz (Editor of The Welfare of Cats).|
|In the USA what percentage of cats are confined to the home?||50-60%||Patronek and others 1997|
|Who advises cat owners in the USA to keep their cats permanently indoors?||
|What is the second most common reason why kittens are taken to the Blue Cross hospital in London?||Household accidents that included falls from balconies & windows, burns and accidents relating to cleaning products||Blue Cross Hospital, London (2007).|
|Conditions/diseases that indoor cats may be at an increased risk of developing/catching.||
|Conditions/diseases that outdoor cats are at increased risk of developing/catching.||
|The age of cats most likely to be involved in a road traffic accident (RTA).||7-24 months of age (46% of cats)||Rochlitz 2003|
|Percentage of male to female cats involved in RTAs.||62% (male) to 38% (female). Males are almost twice as likely to be involved in an RTA.||Rochlitz 2003|
|Percentage of random-bred to pure-bred cats involved in RTAs||97% random bred to 3% pure-bred.||Rochlitz 2003|
|Are RTAs more likely to happen during the day or night?||Night-time||Rochlitz 2003|
|Without keeping a cat indoors all the time, what does a person do to minimise their cat being involved in an RTA?||
|Without keeping a cat indoors all the time, what does a person do to minimise their cat being predated on by wildlife? (Outdoor cat problems)||
|Is it possible to definitely say that it is preferable to keep a cat indoors full-time rather than allowing outside access?||No. It depends of the environment and the circumstances||Rochlitz 2003|
|What is the recommended minimum number of rooms for an indoor only cat?||2||Martens and Schar 1988|
|Are tom cats less suited to indoor living compared to females?||Possibly because males have larger home ranges than females.||Martens and Schar 1988|
It is interesting and useful to note that when a scientific approach is used to decide if it is better to keep a cat inside permanently, the answer is not black and white but dependant on the individual circumstances of each situation.
For example, even in the United States, if you are living with an elderly female cat and can spend time with your cat in an enclosed garden (a supervised garden session), it would make sense to do that in the interests of the cat and yourself. At the other end of the spectrum to let a young inexperienced cat outside near a busy road, unsupervised is madness.
- Enriching the indoor cat’s environment.
- The reason to inoculate an indoor cat.
- Link to original Flickr photograph.