Many cat owners wonder whether keeping an indoor cat is a cruel option or a sensible lifestyle.
As always, it depends on your personal situation. But to help answer the question, 'Are cats happy indoors?' we will explore this topic a little further.
We offer our expert opinion about whether an indoor life is cruel before advising on the best ways to keep an indoor cat happy and the benefits and drawbacks of both outdoor and indoor cats.
Is it cruel to keep a cat indoors?
Cats with disabilities: Blind, deaf, or physically impaired cats are likely to be safer if they are kept indoors. If they are let outside, they are more likely to be vulnerable to predators, involved in traffic accidents, and can become lost.
Cats that are FIV positive: Feline immunodeficiency virus can be transferred between cats through bites, so if you have a cat with FIV, it's crucial you keep them indoors to prevent the spread of the virus.
Rare purebred cats: Many cat owners choose to keep their purebred cats indoors to prevent them from getting stolen.
When is it cruel?
If you live in a small apartment: A small house or apartment with no space to run or outside area may mean your cat isn't getting the physical or mental stimulation they need to live a happy life.
If they have previously been an outdoor cat: If a cat has lived a free outdoor/indoor cat their whole life, then suddenly restricting them to the confines of a house can negatively affect their wellbeing.
If they're alone a lot of the time: An indoor cat may struggle if they are left alone for long periods of time with no other way to entertain themselves.
How to keep an indoor cat happy
Give them lots of space
Opening doors to other rooms
Adding things to climb to take advantage of vertical space, like cat trees
Ensure they are mentally stimulated
Use puzzle feeders
Introduce new toys regularly
Interact and play with them
Keep them company
Setting up a cat bed next to your work station
Sitting with them when you're relaxing
Not leaving them for long periods of time
Investing in a cat sitter if you leave for over a day
Indoor cats vs outdoor cats
Benefits and drawbacks of outdoor cats
It's likely your cat will get the exercise they need
Your cat will be mentally and physically stimulated
Cats that have outdoor access are less likely to be stressed or have behavior issues
Your cat will have enough space to run and climb
Your cat will be unlikely to experience boredom
They are more likely to be in a traffic accident
Vulnerable to theft
More likely to be injured in territorial fights with cats
Vulnerable to predators
Benefits and drawbacks of indoor cats
Your cat won't be at risk of theft
Your cat won't be at risk of traffic accidents
Your cat won't be involved in fights with other animals
Your cat may become bored
Your cat may become lonely
Your cat could develop behavioral issues
Your cat could experience stress and health problems relating to it
Your cat may not get the exercise they need
Are cats happier outside or inside?
In general, cats are likely to be happier when they have access to the outside compared to when they are kept only indoors. This is because they are more likely to be mentally stimulated, getting enough exercise, and are less likely to be bored or lonely.
How do I know if my indoor cat is happy?
You can tell if your indoor cat is happy by reading their body language and observing them. If they are relaxed, purring, an blinking or winking at you, then they are probably very happy!
Do cats like being kept indoors?
If a cat has been kept indoors their whole lives, then they are likely to enjoy being indoors and not feel as if they are missing out on exploring outside. However, if your cat has had previous access to the outdoors, they may not like being kept indoors.
Is it healthy to keep cats indoors all the time?
Keeping a cat indoors all the time can prevent them from getting into fights with other cats, being involved in traffic accidents, and being stolen. However, they may not be healthy as it's more difficult for them to exercise and remain mentally stimulated.
Is it cruel to not let a cat outside?
Not letting a cat outside can be cruel if they have had previous access to the outdoors and show visible signs of stress when they are kept indoors.
What is the lifespan of indoor cats?
The average lifespan of an indoor cat is 12-15 years.
What are the cons of having an indoor cat?
The cons of owning an indoor cat include your cat experiencing boredom, not getting the exercise they need, experiencing loneliness, and developing behavioral problems.