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Outdoor cat vs indoor cat

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by sherbz, May 11, 2021.

  1. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

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    After doing a spot of reading about this I have come to suspect that it is either not very well researched, or i have just been lucky. It concerns, as the title suggests, cats that are kept indoors vs cats that have their own means of entry and exit and are free to roam the local area.

    Sources online suggest that the life expectancy of an indoor cat is about 17. And these same sources say that the life expectancy of an outdoor cat is between 2-5 years: https://pets.webmd.com/cats/features/should-you-have-an-indoor-cat-or-an-outdoor-cat#1

    In my lifetime i have had 6 cats. From pretty much kittenhood all the way to the end of their life. And we have always let them be free to roam the local area. Personally i think its a bit cruel to keep them indoors. I know that they are more at risk outdoors - from other cats and possibly even local wildlife or other pets (dogs). But it gives them license to go out and hunt and do cat things for a while. And i really dont like litter trays. And neither do my cats - much preferring instead to go outside (if we leave a litter tray out when the option to go outside exists then they will all studiously avoid the litter tray and go outside leaving the litter and tray redundant).

    So of my 6 cats - their names, ages and (if applicable) cause of death are as follows:

    Charlotte - 15 - Kidney failure (euthanised)
    Sheba - 16 - Kidney failure (euthanised)
    Solomon - 18 - Feline dementia (euthanised)
    Sylvie - 19 - Kidney failure (euthanised)
    Harpo - 6 - Alive and kicking
    Groucho - 6 - Alive and kicking

    Obviously where you live plays a role. Like on a busy street or in a city will presumably introduce more hazards to your cats health. But 2-5 years seems awfully low to me. Which leads me to believe the internet is lying to me. Thoughts?
     
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  2. AriaLyric

    AriaLyric Nonbinary | Peaceful Builder Vietnam & Māori Main

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    As you pointed out, it would be important to figure out where those statistics are being taken from - what countries, what areas? Urban or rural? Places where the cat was only able to roam around a few yards, or places where the cat could go basically anywhere? Places where related species naturally existed, or places where they only exist due to human intervention?

    As for cats I've had, back before I was born my mother had two cats, brothers, named Peaches and Cream. Peaches was more of an indoor cat and Cream was more outdoor, but both regularly went outside. Peaches about twice a week, Cream a few times a day. They weren't allowed to leave and come back at will tho - we didn't have a cat door so I was in charge of opening the door for them whenever they wanted to go in/out of the house.
    From my poor memory of when they died, Peaches died at 10~13 to diabetes and Cream died at 14~17 to cancer, 4ish years apart. Though soon after Peaches died, Cream got in a nasty fight with another neighborhood cat and got mulch beneath his eyelid which we managed to remove - if we hadn't happened to hear the fighting I'm not sure how injured he would've gotten.
     
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  3. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

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    My cat that had feline dementia got in a nasty fight when he was about 15. He was partially blind by that point. But had a nasty set of abscesses which we had to drain daily. He was in a collar for about 6 months with that. In his later years we did keep him in. As he was almost totally blind and only had one or two marbles rolling around upstairs. He used to wander endlessly in circles. But he was happy enough sitting on laps and stuff, so we just let him be until things got too much for him and he lost the steady use of his legs.
     
  4. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    The real issue wrt letting cats outside is not the welfare of the cat itself, but the effect on other critters like birds...cats kill a lot of wildlife.
     
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  5. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    We have had over 30 cats over the years (not including kittens given away). All have been indoor/outdoor with a cat door. A few died mysteriously or disappeared, but almost all lived to 12 and many to 15 or more. Yes our cats have killed birds, lizards, and mice. We currently have 3, front to back in the pic: Reveille (12), Cholla (8), and Caboose (6). All are rescue cats.

    IMG-0188.jpg
     
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  6. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

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    My current cat is terrible with killing wildlife. He averages around 1 vole per evening during the season (usually around October, which i assume is hibernation time). Interestingly his brother isnt at all interested in hunting. The most exciting thing he has brought home is a selection of cable ties, which he seems to find really interesting for some reason. I never knew this until we had my current 2 - but female cats can have kittens from different fathers in the same litter. So even though my current two are brothers, one is a short hair tabby and the other is a long haired black cat. So im sure they must have different fathers.
     
  7. Bamspeedy

    Bamspeedy CheeseBob

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    There have been very few studies. I read one place that suggests the '2-5 year' time frame comes from a 1986 study of roadkill (80% were feral).

    Feral/stray vs. owned (feral roams larger areas, introducing more dangers), neutered or not, cats allowed to roam at night or not, vaccinated or not, urban vs. rural, busy roadway vs. quiet road, high-speed road vs. low speed, etc. are all factors to consider.

    Only cats allowed inside my house have been indoor only cats. I know how terrible de-clawing cats are to them, but if you want a cat and you're a renter in the US, you likely will have to declaw them if you want to have permission from the landlord to keep a cat in your apartment (even part-time). And if the cat is de-clawed it is even more dangerous for them to go outside since they can't defend themselves.

    My grandpa at his farmhouse, and then when my parents lived there after he passed away, had several farm cats for decades. Basically strays, but ate a healthy diet of leftovers left out for them. Would shelter in the 'cat house' my parents put out there (previously they slept under the barn). Numbers varied year to year. If lucky, some of them might feel comfortable letting you pet them, but most of the time they ran away if you got too close. Think maybe one year they were up to 8 of them after a litter was born. Then some disease was spreading around them and eventually their numbers dwindled to 1 or 2, then eventually they were all gone.
     
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  8. GinandTonic

    GinandTonic Saphire w/ Schweps + Lime

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    2-5 for outside cats is bulldroppings. Mine have all made their teens.

    One of my neighbours has a cat that follows her to the shop. It understands roads and stuff. Apparently it even comes to the puppy play date in the park - it just chills on the fence while she talks with the dog owners.
     
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  9. Berzerker

    Berzerker Deity

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    We had 3 strays show up 6-7 years ago and we let them come and go but last year I had to block off the pet door, a stray tom was coming in and getting into fights with the male. I didn't make a practice of getting the cats shots but I did when I found out about feline leukemia. I want to open back up now that the other cat was adopted by the neighbor but I have a 4th stray thats still young (and orange, the others are dark gray). We used to have more coyotes, my neighbor wont let her cats out at night. One of my golfing buddies has barn cats and one got killed by a coyote.

    indoor is a pain...get a scratching post if the cat is shredding stuff, get one regardless. You can make them easy enuff and save a few bucks.
     
  10. drewisfat

    drewisfat King

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    I've swapped on this issue. I think a lot of this is us apply our human needs, interests and values onto animals. Animals don't go outside to play, smell the flowers and feel the breeze on their face. They do it to acquire food and water. When they don't need to, they hide in the safest hole they can find.
    Cats aren't much different. Most people seem to have this romantic notion that they're Klingons with some bloodthirst that must be quenched and and an honor system about the glorious chase. Nah. Look at lions. When they hunt, they hunt with numerical advantage (at least females), and they always go for the injured or the young and helpless. It's all about minimizing chance of injury and nothing about the thrill of the hunt. When their bellies are fed they're just fine with lazing around all day doing absolutely nothing. Gotta conserve energy. If you hand them a slab of meat they don't complain about handouts ruining the fun of life. When they're not hunting or lazing, they're roaming their territory. This isn't because they love to walk around, get exercise, and see the extent of their domain. It's to ward off rivals and threats. I'm sure they'd love *not* having to deal with that either.
     
  11. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

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    I can certainly see it being more dangerous in the USA to let a cat out. Coyote's, even Eagles or other birds of prey might go for a cat or kitten given the chance. The only thing we have the UK are foxes really. But ive never heard of a fox killing a cat. They are too slow. They are more at risk of other peoples dogs.
     
  12. Bamspeedy

    Bamspeedy CheeseBob

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    Yeah, I think the study was flawed. If it really did study roadkill, that's more of a study showing the average age of roadkill victims, not life expectancy of all cats for all reasons (and since most roadkill were feral, it doesn't apply much to non-feral cats) . Cats do learn to pay attention to the dangers of roadways, so it's usually not the older cats (over 5 years old) getting hit by cars.
     
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  13. sherbz

    sherbz Emperor

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    If that were true then why do cats play when they are at home? They are playing to practice hunting. Cats sleep more than we do. When they are awake they have lots of energy usually. And that tends to be at night. They use that energy to patrol their area or turf. Not always just hunt. The hunting part is usually more out of habit than anything. As they get all their food from us. I think if you were very on the ball and played with your cat every day it wouldnt miss much of the outside world. But life generally doesnt allow for that. So allowing them to go outside is a way of letting them blow off some steam before coming back for a quick cuddle before their next snooze. Its a bit like with kids. They dont need to go out and play. But to fully exhaust a child every single day in the confines of your home is quite the challenge. I wouldnt claim that letting cats out is 100% out of altruism. Its a trade off IMO. But i do think to an extent the cat is "happier" for it.
     
  14. Berzerker

    Berzerker Deity

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    the orange stray was little more than a kitten when I got stuck with him late last summer, he wandered up to the green I was putting on at the golf course. I heard someone mention a tiger and when I looked up after putting I saw him laying on the grass rolling around and stretching. We have hawks, bald eagles and foxes there so I dont think he would last long.

    One of the guys said he'd adopt him and I was more than happy with that arrangement, but I still got stuck with him. The guy already had a stray than went into panic mode when he showed up. I have 3 strays so adopting him caused less stress, each one gets targeted for play and it actually turned out to be a good fit for all 4.
     
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  15. Manfred Belheim

    Manfred Belheim Moaner Lisa

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    "Go outside" just means "using someone else's garden as a litter tray" most of the time though. I personally don't like running my lawn mower over unexpected piles of sh*t.
     
  16. tjs282

    tjs282 Stone(cold)fish

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    We had two cats while I was growing up that I can remember (my mum and dad had several others prior to that, and their divorce), both indoor/outdoor cats.

    The first we got shortly after the divorce and consequent house-move. That terraced house was about halfway along a row of thirty, and backed onto a plot of allotments, with a hill/park behind it. The cat-door was set into the back-door, so once she'd climbed over the shed, she had plenty of space to roam freely with minimal risk (the local wildlife didn't fare quite so well, despite the belled flea-collar). We got the second after a second house-move, while I was about halfway through secondary school; so the first was already about 8, and initially not at all impressed with the new arrival — although she mellowed relatively quickly.

    About 18 months after I started Uni, the first was hit by a car directly outside the house (our usually quiet street was also the main/only access road to the local rugby-clubhouse, so could get quite busy on Friday/Saturday nights). She would have been about 14 or 15 by then, and was also getting deaf and arthritic, so it's likely that she either didn't hear the car coming, and/or didn't quite get out of the way in time. My mum found her the next morning, and took her to the vet to be put to sleep. The second also made it to about 14–15, and also died after being hit by a car.
     
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  17. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    Before I was born my parents had an outside cat that had to be put down after it got shot in the spine by a maniac with an air rifle.
     
  18. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy The long wait

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    Having grown up around farms that had farm cats, 3-5 doesn't seem out of line. Some farm cats would tame if you handled them a lot as kittens, and if you got a female, her kittens would probably then be available to tame. But the rest remain semi-feral. Comfortable with you, but not really. The tame ones that stick close to the house and people? Those made it a while. The semi-feral ones? Maybe. The toms? They live hard. And if they wander in from outside your happy little inbred farm colony, they're annoying since sometimes they kill kittens. Unless you're looking to replace your current colony with slightly less inbred specimens, you probably need to shoot persistent stray toms. It's not like you wind up super attached to all the stray kittens anyhow, you can give it a pass unless you're attached to a current batch.

    Either way - between exposure, food coming and going in cycles, distemper, parasites, other untreated illnesses in animals that winter outside, toms fighting each other, coyotes, foxes, and hawks - I'm going to guess 3 - 5 sounds about right for the ones that make it past kittenhood.
     
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  19. Chukchi Husky

    Chukchi Husky Lone Wolf

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    Just do what the British do and blame the foxes.
     
  20. Josu

    Josu Emperor

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    I live in a flat, maybe I am wrong, but a flat is not very compatible with outdoor cats.

    We have a balcony, our cats like watching the street from there, however they are kinda agoraphobic with going out to the flat landing
     
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