Should cats be outside or inside

Outdoor cat: Everything about the outdoor area

Outdoor cat or house cat? Cats love to roam in nature and practice natural behaviors such as hunting, sneaking, and climbing. For many cat owners, going outdoors is a question of faith. Here you can find out which pros and cons arguments need to be weighed up.

Advantages for the outdoor cat

Going outdoors has many advantages for your cat: Outdoor cats are often better utilized, are less bored, move more and thus prevent unhealthy obesity. A cat that is outside most of the day also makes its humans less work: When it comes home, it will probably sleep a lot and process the day's experiences. This is also positive for the apartment and the furniture, which are often used as a substitute for scratches. The last important point is that by hunting, sneaking, lurking and interacting with other animals, outdoor cats sharpen their senses in a way that an indoor cat will never experience.

Disadvantages of being outdoors

On the other hand, there are of course some contra-points, because as the owner of an outdoor cat you have to be aware that you are giving up a certain amount of control over the cat. Statistics show that the life expectancy of outdoor cats is far below that of purely indoor cats, which of course is related to the risks to which cats are exposed. This can be territorial fights with brutal conspecifics or encounters with other animals, for example martens or foxes. The threat posed by larger dogs is not to be sniffed at either. In addition, outdoor animals increasingly come into contact with parasites, poisonous plants or other objects (rusty nails, ponds with no way out, frozen ponds), which can represent a great danger.

There are also problems if your outdoor cat has to take medication regularly at the same time due to an illness. How do you want to do that with a cat that comes and goes as it pleases? Even if your cat suffers from allergies or intolerances, being outdoors can be devastating if strangers feed on their forays or procure food themselves somewhere.

Another point concerns the phenomenon that cats keep "disappearing". Very often busy roads are related to this and are fatal for the velvet paws. Some cats simply look for new territory and decide not to come back because they like it better there; others are unwillingly "adopted" by strangers and simply taken with them.

Usually this problem is only considered for dogs running freely, but unfortunately cats are also often affected by it: poison bait. One hears again and again about dogs or cats who become seriously ill or, in the worst case, even die from deliberately placed poisonous bait. This risk should definitely be considered.

Important questions about outdoor access

When considering allowing your cat to go outside, there are a few things that should be considered. We want to address the three most important points here.

Residential area?

This is probably the most crucial point when considering freewheeling, because if you live in the middle of the city or right next to a motorway, you should better refrain from unlimited freewheeling. The risks are just too great. Ideally, you should live as far away as possible from possible sources of danger: This includes, among other things, busy roads as well as highways or hunted forest areas. In general, such potential dangers for female cats and neutered male cats should be at least 400m away, and for uncastrated male cats even up to 1000m. You should also seek the neighborhood's opinion on free-range cats before starting an argument with a neighbor who is terrified for his beloved koi carp.

Is the cat's health condition?

Another important point is the cat's health. After all, outdoor cats are exposed to more danger than indoor cats. These dangers do not necessarily have to “strike”, but one way or another the preventive measures cause increased veterinary costs. This includes, for example, costs for additional vaccinations (e.g. against rabies) and more frequent worming. In general, the risk outside of being infected with parasites such as worms, ticks, fleas or mites is much higher. Only in the rarest of cases does an outdoor animal never have such a vermin problem.

If your cat is chronically ill (see disadvantages) or has a disability that severely restricts it (e.g. blindness or amputation of a limb) then it should not be given free access, at least not unlimited. Another important point is that everyone outdoors should be neutered. You will then have a smaller territory, become less involved in territorial fights, and will not contribute to the uncontrolled reproduction that brings so many cats to the shelter.

Is the cat labeled?

It should be as natural as the previous neutering that your cat is tagged. The best way to do this is to get them chipped. The chip inserted under the skin in the neck enables all important data on the cat and the owner to be read out very quickly with the aid of a reader. So if your cat gets lost, the finder can quickly find out where it belongs at appropriate facilities (often veterinarians or animal shelters).

Tattooing an identification number in a cat's ear is less suitable and only rarely used. This method is considered out of date and unsustainable as the tattoos often fade. Under no circumstances should you send your cat outside wearing a collar. There is too great a risk that your velvet paw gets tangled up somewhere and strangles while trying to break free.

The realization of the clearance

Even before you bring a cat into your house, you should consider whether you want to allow it to go outside. Just wanting to keep an all-outdoor cat indoors won't make you or the cat happy.

If you get a new cat or have moved, the cat should be kept in the house for four to six weeks, or longer in the case of shy animals. This gives her the opportunity to get used to the new home, to settle in and to develop a bond with this place. This is the only way to ensure that she will find her way back and come back. It becomes problematic when the new home is not far from the old one. Cats often return to their old territory again and again.

Even a so far pure indoor cat can be offered outdoor access without making it an outdoor cat. But here there is the risk that she has a less strong immune system and is less able to find her way outside. That is why most indoor cats are initially skeptical about their newly gained freedom and always stay close to the house in order to be able to flee to a safe place quickly in case of problems.

Pure housing

In general, cats can also be kept in a species-appropriate manner within an apartment or house if this is designed in a cat-friendly manner. This includes sufficient litter boxes and scratching opportunities, a clean feeding place and preferably several water points. Quiet places to sleep and enough toys are also important. It is also advisable to get a second cat, because cats are also sociable animals that usually do not feel comfortable without contact with other cats.

If you do not have the opportunity to give the cat outdoor space, there are also certain alternatives: A balcony can be networked cat-safe and thus become a sunny island for your house tiger. Gardens can also be made cat-safe with certain systems, but this is a greater effort. If, on the other hand, you are technically gifted and there is enough space, you can also build an outdoor enclosure. This is even safer than any other fencing system. However, this procedure should be discussed with the landlord in advance to be on the safe side. And if none of that is possible, then many cats like to at least enjoy a barred window through which they can get some fresh air and relax in the sun.


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  1. Hello,
    I fetched two little kitten siblings (f / m) from the farm, so it was clear that they would be given free time because they were already used to it. You are now 1 1/2 years old, the cat is fortunately very domestic and a bit scared and does not go far, but unfortunately the cat is not afraid of cars and prefers to go to construction sites nearby or wherever there is a lot dangerous instead of staying in our beautiful big back yard. I have the feeling that she doesn't feel comfortable here, maybe her brother will drive her out of his territory? The two often fight outside, but it actually looks playful and they usually get along very well. Is there anything I can do to make her feel better here, or to assert herself better against her brother?
    In addition, I would only have to make a narrow fire brigade access impassable for her, then she would not be able to run onto the street as quickly. But I'm not allowed to put up fences. Does anyone have any idea how this could be done? With a cat fright or clicker training or… ..?
    And maybe someone will know when it is safest for the cats to go outdoors. Better at night or during the day? I would be very, very happy about your answers!

    1. Hello Maria,

      nice that you give so much thought to the safe passage of your two velvet paws. 🙂
      We have forwarded your description to our animal expert, who will contact you as soon as possible!

      Best wishes,
      your ZooRoyal team

    2. Hello Maria,

      it's really a shame that you have to worry about this. Unfortunately, an outdoor cat cannot be steered - it will go where it wants to. In any case, it is possible that she might want to avoid her brother. Here it makes sense to ask yourself why this is so. Are there perhaps not the necessary resources for both? Your backyard / household may only have one lookout higher up. He is missing for the second cat. This can also affect other things: water and feeding places, (from the point of view of the cats suitable) lying areas or the like. If possible, create conditions under which two cats can feel comfortable in your backyard at the same time. For every resource, it must be available at least once per cat plus one more. Pheromone products such as Feliway Classic or Feliway Friends in the household can also improve the relationship between your cats and reduce tension. You may be able to reduce your cat's distance radius using these methods.

      You can find the corresponding products here:

      There is actually no alternative for the fire brigade access comparable to the fence. In theory, you can try to train your cat a limit. The practical implementation is anything but easy and should be done under professional guidance. Unfortunately, even that does not offer a guarantee that it will not be exceeded. It is the same with fragrances or the like. Can work, but maybe only temporarily or not at all.

      The outdoor area for the cats tends of course to be more dangerous during rush hour - especially near the road. Since cats can orient themselves very well even in the dark, going outside at night does not pose a greater risk for them.

      We hope that we were able to help you with our advice and wish you and your furry friends all the best!
      Best wishes
      Your ZooRoyal team

  2. Hello! Our little one is now 6 months! We somehow notice that he wants to get out ... but unfortunately the problem is that we live in the attic and the door is therefore not open ...
    No cellar etc ...
    How should we do that? Our landlord would never allow a second cat (tomcat)! They accepted one of them with protest

    1. Hello Steffi,

      oh dear ... we don't see a way to give your cat access to the open air from an attic apartment either.
      But let's see what alternative options exist in this situation. 😉
      The point here is to offer your hangover alternative employment opportunities. You should plan several hours a day for his mental workload. Joint games, for example, are important. Greatly suitable and a real highlight for many cats is a game fishing rod - with it you can really work off the little guy. Clicker training is ideal for keeping him busy not only physically but also mentally. Here you can find two interesting articles (the second article relates to dog training, but you can apply it 1: 1 to cats): -cat/
      Another ingenious utilization option are feeding toys. They ensure that cats have to work for their food and are so busy.
      And you should also set up a nice lookout for him at the window so that he can observe his surroundings well and thus participate in the outside world. Access to a balcony made escape-proof with at least one cat protection net would of course also be a nice option, if you have one.

      We hope that we were able to help you and wish you a lot of fun with the little bully.

      Best wishes
      your ZooRoyal team

  3. I'm missing an option in the survey. I also don't think much of locking cats in against their will if they can move out safely. Our cats all have the opportunity to go outside. Most of them love to be outside and hate to be locked up. And one doesn't go out. You could, anytime. But she doesn't want to.

    For them, the appropriate answer to the question "Is your cat an outdoor cat" would be:

    No - but I could never lock my cat up.