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Indoor Cats Vs Outdoor Cats: Know the Difference

Will your kitten be an indoor or an outdoor cat? By understanding her natural instincts, you can make sure she has a happy life wherever she roams.

One of the most pressing questions feline parents seek an answer to is - whether to let their cats roam free outdoors or is it better to confine the furry munchkins indoors. While kitties love strutting outdoors since they are genetically predisposed to roam and hunt in the wild, certain dangers can be fatal for your precious fur baby. But keeping your cat confined within the four walls at all times might not be healthy for your fur kiddo. They can not only become morose but also fat or obese due to the lack of physical exercise.

At the end of the day, what all cat parents want is a healthy and happy fur baby. So, if you are worried about whether to let your furry feline out or lock them inside, this article will guide you towards making an informed decision.

The lifespan of Indoor Cat vs Outdoor Cat

While the lifespan of cats is dependent on various factors like their breed, the average lifespan of an indoor cat has been observed to be considerably higher than outdoor cats. Indoor cats often enjoy a healthy cat lifespan between 12 to 15 years, whereas outdoor cats rarely outlive 8 to 10 years. In the wild, there are significant risks that potentially threaten the life expectancy of cats. Outdoor cats are often preyed upon by larger animals like dogs and foxes, or face the threats of starvation, harsh climates, diseases, and traffic. Indoor cats are usually protected from such risks.

Cat Health

Indoor and outdoor cats, both face the risks of contracting diseases to some degree, but the diseases can more often be fatal in outdoor cats. While outdoor cats can contract fatal diseases more easily, indoor cats can tend to become obese due to lack of exercise. 


Some of the diseases commonly observed in cats include:

  • Feline AIDS

    Feline AIDS is a consequential disease most commonly experienced by outdoor cats. However, in addition to being fatal, feline AIDS is worrisome for cat parents due to its contagious nature.

  • FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis)

    FIP is a viral disease more commonly observed in feral and outdoor cats and manifests in symptoms like blood poisoning, fever, shock haemorrhage, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Once detected, FIP worsens rapidly and can kill the cat within months.

  • URI (Upper Respiratory Infection)

    Upper respiratory infection is quite common in outdoor cats. Although URI is not fatal, it can put significant strain on your kitty’s immune system, making it susceptible to other diseases.


Some of the common parasites to affect indoor vs outdoor cats are:

  • Roundworm

    Roundworms are intestinal parasites that cause gastric infections, characterized by diarrhoea, abdominal discomfort, vomiting, lack of appetite, and weight loss.

  • Tapeworm

    Tapeworm is a disease-causing parasite found in the lower intestine of cats and can be easily transmitted to healthy cats from sharing an indoor cat litter tray. Outdoor cat litter can also attract tapeworms, increasing the chances of transmission.

  • Hookworm

    Outdoor, as well as indoor cats, face the risks of coming in contact with hookworms from cat fleas and infected faecal matter.

Letting Your Cat Outside Safety Concerns

Mentioned below are some of the safety concerns that you should consider before letting your cat out:

  1. Risks of disease and parasitic infection

    Unlike outdoor cats, indoor cats are comparatively protected from diseases and parasites. Outdoor cats run the risk of falling ill by ingesting toxic substances or drinking from contaminated sources. Outdoor cats also come in touch with diseases like feline AIDS, feline leukopenia, and diseases borne by insects like ticks and leeches.

  2. Accidents

    Roadside accidents are one of the most common and serious outdoor threats faced by cats. Therefore, uncontrolled outdoor access is a grave safety concern among pet parents who live next to highways or roads with busy traffic. Other accidents, such as falling from high ground or getting injured while climbing are also more common among outdoor cats than housecats. When it comes to indoor cats vs outdoor cats, those staying indoors enjoy a comparatively safe and secure life.

  3. Predators

    Outdoor cats often face significant risks from predators such as hawks, dogs, raccoons, and coyotes. So, unless you are sure your neighbourhood is safe from larger predatory animals, letting your cat go on outdoor adventures is best avoided unless you are accompanying it.

  4. Getting separated

    It is not always the best idea to let your fur baby go on a walk on its own, especially in a new neighbourhood as an unfamiliar environment can cause it to lose its way. If your kitty is prone to going on outdoor adventures, get them microchipped and tracked with GPS collars so that you know where your precious munchkin is at all times.

How to keep your cat stimulated?

Cats are free spirits, and being held inside can cause indoor cats to feel stressed and even depressed. Being confined inside the outdoor cat house can also cause them to lose their temper, making them feel annoyed and restless. So, it is also vital to make sure your indoor cat receives sufficient physical and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. You can pick up some of the beneficial tips to keep your indoor cat stimulated from the list mentioned below.

  • Making playtimes an important part of their everyday routine. Games like hide and seek and fetch can allow cats to rely on their feline hunting instincts and keep them entertained. You can hide treats for them to hunt and find too, as part of a game.
  • Outdoor cats prefer to keep their claws sharp by scratching them on the barks of trees. Let your outdoor cat house cats keep their claws sharpened by getting them scratch pads or posts.
  • Kitties love to climb to vantage points and outdoor felines often climb trees or fences. To ensure that your indoor cat doesn’t miss climbing, you can get it a climbing post or a cat tree.

FAQ on Indoor Cat Vs Outdoor Cat

Is it better to have an indoor or outdoor cat?

Indoor vs outdoor cats have their fair share of strengths and weaknesses. However, when it comes to the general health and life expectancy of cats, indoor fur babies tend to be healthier and live much longer than their outdoor counterparts.

Is it ok to have an indoor-outdoor cat?

Confused with indoor cats vs outdoor cats? It is natural for your indoor cat to want to go on outdoor adventures. It is okay to have an indoor cat who enjoys going outside but make sure that your kitty is regularly checked out for diseases and parasites. 

Are outdoor cats happier than indoor cats?

Outdoor cats have easy access to go on wonderful adventures and exercise their freedom. Hence their curiosity and sense of self are more prominent and satisfied. In comparison, indoor cats often feel restricted, causing them to be irritated or upset, creating a stark difference when it comes to indoor vs outdoor cats. 

Is it cruel to keep cats indoors?

Indoor cats often lack the freedom enjoyed by outdoor cats, which may cause them to feel irritated or upset. However, being indoors significantly eliminates the risks to their health. Just make sure to keep them stimulated, well fed and hydrated.

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