As a cat owner, you have many decisions to make about how you raise your Maine Coon kitten, including things like which food they should eat, should I give them catnip and should I let my cat outside? There’s so much information available on how to Care for a Maine Coon. This article will focus on whether or not you should allow your cat to roam freely outdoors.
Cat owners allow their cats to go outdoors for a number of different reasons. Maybe you can relate to some of these common ideas.
First, cat owners sometimes let their cats outside so that they can use their hunting instincts. If you have a cat of your own, you have likely seen them “hunt” random objects in your home. Maybe they also chased after a bug that snuck into your house. When cats do this, they show off their hunting skills and their hunting instinct.
Because of this, cat owners want to let their cats outdoors. They think that their cats need to be able to use their instincts where it actually matters—in the wild!
Another common reason that cats maybe let outside is that their owners want to give them more options. In a house, cats cannot climb trees, explore new areas, and more. They are confined to a relatively small space that is very familiar to them. Cat owners think that if they allow their cats the freedom to go outside, they will be able to explore and get more exercise than they would indoors.
Don’t Want to Clean the Litter Box?
The next reason that cats are allowed outside by some owners is that their owners do not want to clean out a litter box. This normal part of caring for a cat can be a bit annoying at times, which is why these owners send their cats outdoors. Then, cats can use the restroom outside and the owners will not have to deal with any of the messes inside. There’s a simple solution to this, which is to get an automated litter box. I made the investment in Litter Robots and I’ll never go back. They take the headache and hassle out of scooping the trays once or twice a day. They’re worth every dollar, in my opinion. I wish that every cat owner had one!
Cats are Perfectly Happy Indoors
The final reason that cat owners might let their cats outside is that they believe that their cats want to go out. Their cat may like laying by the window or trying to sneak out if the door opens. Cats are curious creatures and enjoy watching birds. They might be unsure about what is on the other side of the door too.According to WebMD (https://pets.webmd.com/cats/features/should-you-have-an-indoor-cat-or-an-outdoor-cat#1), cats who live indoors exclusively live an average of 17 years or more. Outdoor cats usually only live two to five years.
There are a handful of less common reasons that people might choose to let their cats outside. This depends on the specific situation though. For example, some people may have grown up with outdoor cats, so they do not know about the risks associated with outdoor cats.
It can be very dangerous to let your cat outside because there is a large number of risks that your cat will face. These risks can affect your cat in a variety of ways, including lifespan and health. Next, we will take a look at some of the most prominent risks.
Risks of Allowing Your Cat Outdoors
Predators—Cats are not equipped to fight the wild animals that they may encounter while outdoors. If your cat has been declawed, which is highly unadvisable, they are even less prepared to defend themselves. People are predators too. Some people catch cats for fights or to kill them.
Diseases—There are countless diseases that cats can contract from being outdoors. The following list describes the most common diseases that outdoor cats may get.
- FIV—Feline immunodeficiency virus is a slow-acting virus that weakens a cat’s immune system, which increases the cat’s chances of other viruses and diseases.
- Feline leukemia virus—This virus is the second leading cause of death in cats and works similarly to FIV. It suppresses the immune system, which means that cats are often predisposed to infections.
- Toxoplasmosis—Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that is primarily found in cats. It usually infects cats that have ingested cat feces.
- Ringworm—Ringworm is very common in cats and consists of a fungus that infects the skin, hair, and nails.
- Rabies—Rabies is a viral disease. It causes issues with the brain and spinal cord. It’s nearly 100% fatal to anyone infected by it.
Most Common Causes of Death: Indoor Vs.Outdoor Cats
Indoor cats and outdoor cats are met with different risks and health issues. These can contribute to death. It’s important to compare the leading causes of death between indoor and outdoor cats. (https://lostpetresearch.com/2011/03/causes-of-sudden-death-in-cats/)
Outdoor cats most commonly killed by trauma. Trauma can include incidents like cats being hit by cars. This is the most frequent cause of outdoor cat death. Next on the list is other types of trauma, such as being bitten by dogs or gunshots.
Indoor cats often pass away due to feline leukemia or heart disease. It’s worth noting the differences here. When cats are sick or have a disease, they can go to the veterinarian and receive medication. Indoor cats regularly have checkups and may be prescribed a special diet to manage their sickness.
When cats are living outdoors, there is no way to prevent the life-threatening traumas that they face, such as traffic incidents and interactions with predators. If your cat is living outdoors, they are at risk of experiencing this trauma.
Another necessary point to remember is that, as a cat owner, you will notice if your indoor cat is feeling sick or is lethargic. You can look for signs of disease or illness. If your cat is living outdoors, you may not see your cat enough to know what is “normal” for that cat. Some cats are gone for several days or weeks at a time. During this time, you will not be able to regularly check on the cat.
How to Give Your Maine Coon an Outdoor “Experience” and Still be Safe
You are likely wondering how to give your cat the opportunities that an outdoor cat would have while keeping them safe indoors. Fortunately, you have a good number of options. These will allow your Maine Coon Kitten to explore, play, and interact without being at susceptible to trauma and other outdoor risks.
- Leash/Harness Training—You can buy a cat leash and harness and take your cat outdoors under your supervision. Some cats can even go for walks around the neighborhood like dogs do. This is a way that your cat can stay safe with you without facing any of the common risks of being outdoors.
- Outdoor Enclosures—You can set up an outdoor enclosure that keeps your cat safe while allowing them to get some fresh air. They will only be allowed in the enclosed area, so you will know where they are at all times. The Sassy Shack is the apartment where the Sassy Koonz resides, and it’s a heated and cooled building, with an outdoor enclosure so the cats can enjoy fresh air and bird watching.
- Cat Trees—Cats love to play and climb on cat trees. Cats like to scratch and claw these trees too. They are also a good place for cats to lounge. They give cats the feeling of climbing and exploring without putting them in danger outside. One of my favorite cat trees for Maine Coons is from Cat Tree King. They’re sturdy, durable, and can hold up to our gentle giants. Maine Coons get pretty large, so a well built cat tree is a necessity.
- Interactive Toys and Playtime—There are many toys available that simulate the hunting experience for cats. Look for toys that chirp or squeak. There are toys that move on their own. You can play with your cat too to add even more excitement to their life. Cats are easily entertained and will often chase after a string or a ball.
Below is a good video that will explain how to lease train your cat so that they can enjoy the outdoors with supervision.
As Your Maine Coon’s Guardian, It’s Better to Be Safe Than Sorry
Though it is very risky for cats to go outside, you can give them outdoor experiences without causing any danger. This will help to keep your cat happy and healthy! One of the terms of the Sassy Koonz purchase and sale agreement for a kitten is that you agree the kitten will be indoors ONLY. This article was written in an effort to educate new pet owners, or veteran pet owners about the risks of allowing their kitties outside. Let’s do what we can to extend the average lifespan of a Maine Coon! <3 Please leave your comments with your thoughts on indoor vs. outdoor cats.