Should You Ever Let Your Cat Outside?
After looking at numerous different kittens online, I fell in love with the Bengal breed & I was captivated by the wild beauty of its pelt. I had never seen one before and I kept coming back to look at these beautiful creatures. When I read up about the character traits of the Bengal – intelligent, almost dog-like, friendly, energetic, and athletic, loves attention and being around people - I knew that this was the breed for me. I didn’t want a lap cat. I contacted the breeder in question, only to be told that they had all been sold. “Well, that’s it then,” I thought, and forgot about it.
A few weeks later I got a message from this breeder to say that one of the kittens that I had been interested in had unexpectedly become available – was I still interested? It was serendipity. So I am now the proud mum of a beautiful Bengal named Arthur. He is everything I had hoped he would be, stunning to look at & a really sweet character who loves company. The only issue I have is I still haven’t figured out how to keep him off the kitchen work surface!
Indoor Or Outdoor? That Is The Question.
I knew through my research through various breeders that some owners don’t let their cats out of the home. The breeder from whom I bought my Bengal had about seven cats who never went outside the home, and I remember being worried that they would make a dash for the front door as I came in. I needn’t have worried though because none of them showed the slightest interest in peaking their heads outside! The decision is ultimately yours, and should take into consideration the individual personality of your pet. However, here are a few pros & cons on both sides of the debate to help you decide what is right for you and your cat.
Outdoor cats – the positives:
- Can engage in natural behaviours such as establishing & maintaining a territory
- Cats that go outside tend to be a lot more balanced behaviourally & can engage in social interaction
- Greater opportunity for physical exercise & instinctive play
Outdoor cats – the negatives:
- Can get wounded in fights with other animals,
- Risk of being hit by cars
- Risk of inadvertently drinking poisons such as antifreeze or eating toxic plants
- Increased risk of being injured and exposed to infectious diseases such as feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
- Bird predation.
Arthur, my Bengal...
Indoor cats – the positives:
- Indoor cats tend to live longer, safer lives than their outdoor counterparts.
- In the United States alone cats are estimated to kill about 2.4 billion birds every year, so keeping them in stops bird predation.
Indoor cats – the negatives:
- Indoor cats can become fat and lazy. Grazing on an open bowl throughout the day, plus a more sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity, diabetes & osteoarthritis.
- There are indoor male cats in particular who are overweight & they tend to have higher rates of urinary blockage which is painful, stressful & expensive for both owner & cat.
- Indoor cats tend to suffer more stress so you’ll get toileting problems such as urinating & defecating in the house.
- Owners will need to make extra time to provide play & stimulation in the more limited environment of the home in the form of toys, scratching posts.
- Some indoor cats do seem to yearn for the outside world.
Every cat -- whether indoor or outdoor -- should see the vet at least twice a year and be treated for fleas every 30 days; Check-ups should include vaccinations for diseases such as rabies and feline distemper, as well as heartworm medications. Whenever possible, try to get them in at night because that’s when most problems seem to happen, such as getting hit by a car or having a wild animal like a coyote after them.
So, what have I decided for my Bengal Arthur? My cat is an indoor-outdoor cat and comes and goes as he pleases through a cat flap. I felt that it wouldn’t be fair to keep such an intelligent & adventurous cat indoors staring out of the window and never allow him to feel the grass under his paws. I am certain that his life is more fulfilled and happier through being able to exercise his natural instincts & it gives me a lot of pleasure to see him leaping & chasing after bugs and flies in the garden. That said, he does seem to like spending most of his time in the home with me, and as yet never ventures further than the boundary of our garden. That may change in future, of course, because he is still only just over a year old. I am aware of the fact that we live in a town and anything could happen, but living in fear of “what if’s” is not how I want to live my life. However, everyone is different and you have to choose what is right for your circumstances.