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Healthy Cats

Should You Have an Indoor Cat or an Outdoor Cat?

WebMD discusses the positives and negatives of indoor and outdoor cats.
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Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cats: Making the Decision continued...

For Gentilozzi and McWhorter, the choice was relatively easy, but many other pet owners struggle with the decision of whether to keep their cats indoors or outdoors. They might be afraid that their indoor cats will become fat and lazy. Or, they may think it’s cruel to keep cats cooped up inside, forced to spend their days staring out the window. Some indoor cats do seem to yearn for the outside world.

Once Valerie LaRussell and her husband, Greg, let their cat Odie outside for a “playdate” with a neighbor’s cat, there was no going back. The 2-year-old grey tabby would “meow his head off” and tear up the furniture whenever he was kept indoors. They tried taking him outside with a harness, but he slipped right out of it. “We just became resigned to the fact that he’s going to be an indoor-outdoor cat,” LaRussell says.

Outdoor Cat Health

Although it’s not the lifestyle vets recommend, LaRussell says keeping Odie outdoors has trimmed him down to what her vet says is an ideal weight. Plus she doesn’t have to clean the litter box as often as she once did.

If you do make the decision to have an outdoor cat, it’s important to take precautions to ensure that your cat is safe. “Whenever possible, try to get them in at night. Most problems, such as getting hit by a car or having a wild animal like a coyote after them -- it seems most of the problems occur at night,” says Bernadine Cruz, DVM, associate veterinarian at the Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in Laguna Hills, Calif., and member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

“If they won’t stay in the house, maybe put them in the garage and put out food and water.” Another option is to build outdoor cat houses to keep your cats safe and protected day and night. Calvin and Hobbes have their own little houses. “They have blankets in the wintertime and lots of food and water,” McWhorter says.

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