Indoor vs Outdoor Cats | Boulder cat veterinarian

Jan 17, 2021

Indoor vs Outdoor Cats | Boulder cat veterinarian

This is a touchy subject.  Some people are flat out against it.  Other people wouldn’t even consider having a cat inside.  Like most things, my thoughts are that the answer is somewhere in the middle…depending on the cat.

I pulled my three cats out of a barn foundation.  They were about 10 weeks old and all three of them were little devils.  One hissed so much I named him Vampire.  They came from a long line of “barn cats”, all exclusively outdoor, and I came upon them when a client told me she was looking to find them a new barn-home.

For 3 months I kept them in my 1000 sq ft hayloft, entirely enclosed and safe from outside hazards like hawks, snakes, coyotes, and cars.  I also wanted them to know it was home.  They were fed well and turned into quite the sociable little creatures with help from my doting six-year old daughter.

When I started letting them out, I would get them to return by offering food only at night.  It worked like a charm.  Each night they’d be lined up waiting for dinner.  My system worked well.

All of the above occurred over summer when temperatures were lovely.  When winter came, I thought I would start bringing them into our mudroom.  This was a terrible idea.  They howled like banshees and peed everywhere.  I kept them in for about 10 minutes and it was back to the barn.  I built them a loft with a large overhead infrared heater and a heated pad.  They were stoked.  Some cats simply aren’t meant to be indoors.

Long story short, this “outdoor at day, and indoor at night” situation works great for me.  It worked great for two of my cats as well.  They have zero health issues, unlike many indoor cats I see.  Now the unfortunate bit…Vampire stopped showing up somewhere around year 6.  I don’t know what happened, and it’s a pretty bad feeling.  He was an awesome cat.  That’s the obvious downside – outdoor cats have a shorter life expectancy.

Indoor cats have it pretty cushy.  Lots of purebreds have zero interest in going outside which is great for those of you who can’t or don’t want to let them out.  For other cats though, I think it can really mess with them mentally.  Most are overweight, many pull their hair out, and a bunch will pee on your bed to spite you.  They rarely get exercise.  And cats really do want to exercise.  Mine run and play, they climb trees onto our roof, and they hunt all the time (yeah – another sticky portion of this topic I may write more on later).  Indoor cats of course cannot do this.  The pro to indoor cats; more than likely will live a longer life.

Here’s my bottom line; If I had to stay indoor my entire life, I’d go crazy.  No question.  I’d be pulling my own hair out.  I want the risks in life.  I want to feel the sun, to be in the mountains, to swim in the ocean, and experience intense situations which activate all my senses (I don’t think many cats would enjoy swimming in the ocean).  But I also like to sleep in my own bed at night.  Some people want cozy pants all day and that’s ok too.  Consider though taking your indoor cat outside in a harness and just hang out or walk if they want to.  It stimulates the brain, and it’s good for us too…especially in this coronavirus shut-in world.

So, if you do have an exclusively indoor cat, enrich their environment.  Here’s a link on that subject.

And if your cats are outdoors, maybe hook them up with a warm safe haven to hunker down for the night.  They’ll appreciate it.

Indoor vs Outdoor Cats | Boulder cat veterinarian | Rise Vet is Boulder’s new breed of veterinary care located in downtown Boulder.  Call us today to make an appointment for your pet.  We are located in the Ideal Market Plaza, right next to Sweet Cow Ice cream and are excited to open our doors to you and your pets.  We serve pet lovers in Boulder, Longmont, Louisville, Superior and surrounding Boulder County.