Outdoor cat houses are intended for felines who spend some or all of their time out of the house. If you’re investing in a cat house, then you’ve likely already made up your mind about whether you want your cat to be an indoors cat or an outdoors cat. But for the sake of being informed, it’s best to understand the pros and cons of allowing your cat to roam free outdoors.
The traditional argument for allowing your cat outdoors is that it speaks to their natural urge to roam and be in the fresh air. Why else would cats spend hours on end at the window, longingly gazing at the birds in the trees?
There’s much truth in this argument—after all, a cat that gets outdoors is less restless, gets more exercise and stays fit. And almost invariably, once an inside cat gets a taste of the outdoors, they want more.
As such, once you’ve exposed your cat to the big wide world beyond your home’s walls, it can feel cruel to withhold this natural joy from them. When you do, they get antsy, restless and may even complain vocally. They may even try to escape each time you open the front door, leading to a rampant chase through the neighborhood.
But when you let the cat out on a regular basis, he’ll stroll outdoors, get his fill of the wilderness and come back on his own accord when he’s had his fill.
Also, perhaps the best perk of having an outdoor cat: less litter box mess to clean up. Just make sure he doesn’t end up going in your neighbor’s prize rose garden!
The prevailing argument against letting your cat roam free outside involves the wide range of risks and hazards that exist for outdoor cats. Some studies show that cats who live their life indoors can grow to the ripe old age of 20 years, while outdoor cats are often lucky to see their fifth year of life.
The dangers to cats range from the manmade—such as traffic, poisons (fertilizers, chemicals, waste, garbage) and malicious individual (vengeful neighbors or angst-ridden teens)—to the natural—such as parasites, wild animals, stray dogs and cats and even domesticated dogs and cats. There are also a number of diseases—such as FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) that can be contracted if a cat roams outdoors.
What it all boils down to is whether you want your cat to live a long, sheltered life, entertained by what mundane pleasures can be afforded indoors, or if you want your cat to live the life that nature intended—eventful, but short.
If you go the indoors route, you should make sure that your cat is never exposed to the outdoors, so he doesn’t know what he’s missing. But if you want to give your cat the best of both worlds, you should consider furnishing his outdoor environment.
You can find outdoor cat enclosures that allow cats to roam free in the fresh air, but prevents them from venturing into the woods or onto the street. Or you can get a cat house, which gives them a safe haven where they can seek shelter from predator and the elements between excursions.
As a cat lover and owner, it’s your responsibility to make up your mind about what’s best for your cat. But whichever route you go, make sure he or she is as comfortable as possible.