An indoor cat has a slim chance to survive outside on its own. There’s a reason why cats live for so little outside: it’s because of the countless dangers that are outdoors. It’s always better for indoor cats to stay inside, where they are safe.
It’s not that indoor cats lose their survival instincts or become lazier than usual. The truth is, both indoor and outdoor cats won’t live to see their elder years if they are stuck outside.
Despite popular myths (cats need to go outside, cats get bored inside, cats will do fine outdoors), all cats will live a better and longer life if they stay in the house.
How long can an indoor cat survive outside?
On average, an indoor cat can survive for a couple of months – and, maybe, up to a year. There are wonderful stories of indoor cats coming back home after years, but they’re rather uncommon.
Even though going outside is dangerous for indoor cats, these little animals are built to last. They have plenty of survival instincts to live another day, no matter how harsh the consequences.
Cats know how to hunt, scavenge, fend for themselves, and hide from predators. They definitely can learn on their feet – and surviving outside is no exception.
That’s not to say you should let your indoor cat roam around freely, though. Make sure your cat is always safe inside the house. Even though they can survive out there, they can live a better life inside the house!
Why is going outside dangerous for indoor cats?
There are one too many issues with indoor cats going outside: predatory animals, unwanted pregnancies, diseases, pests, getting lost, accidents, and more! That short list is more than enough to understand why your cat should always stay inside.
The average lifespan for an indoor cat is over 15 years. Outdoor cats have an average life of 5 years. That 10-year difference is not a typo.
When a cat goes outside, it can face bigger, stronger animals. Or smaller pests that can slowly kill it.
Even if that’s not the case, house cats tend to have a worse sense of direction and tend to get lost easily. Cats do not understand how roads work either – and that’s why car accidents are one of the main reasons behind cat deaths.
Are indoor cats happy when they go outside?
Certain indoor cats love to go outside – but not all of them are made equal. There are plenty of cats that prefer the comfort of staying indoors. Even if that wasn’t the case, is it worth it to put your indoor cat at risk? Of course not!
You can always meet your indoor cat halfway through if it cannot stand staying inside all the time. There are plenty of options for you both!
Teaching your indoor cat to wear a harness is a great way to keep your friend under control when you take it outside.
Building a catio (also known as a cat patio) is a great idea too. Your cat will be able to go outside unsupervised while being safe from harm. Technically speaking, your indoor cat will stay inside when it goes to its catio!
Should indoor cats have outdoor time?
Indoor cats do not need outdoor time. They can live a happy life if they always stay inside. Even though indoor cats may (or may not) prefer to go outside every now and then, it’s a myth that they need to do it.
Cats need to eat, rest, and stay safe. They can do all of those things when they stay inside.
Keep in mind this is what a cat needs, not necessarily what a cat wants. Your indoor cat could wish to go outside – but if it’s not under safe conditions, it’s way too dangerous for your cat to do so.
How can I make an indoor cat stay safe outside?
Your indoor cat will remain safe outside as long as you stay in control of the situation. That means being in control of the cat or the environment your cat is in. Your cat won’t be safe if it’s out there on its own without protection.
As you know, the only way your cat will stay safe outside is either by using a harness or by staying inside a catio. There are no other alternatives.
Visual supervision is not enough. A cat is way too fast and slippery for you to catch it. They also don’t like to follow orders, so your cat may not listen to you when you tell it to go back inside. You can’t treat your indoor cat like a dog.
Trusting your cat’s strength and smarts isn’t enough either. Cats are both smart and strong – but your cat may end up facing a problem that’s too big for it to handle. That’s why you need to be there to help!
What should I do before letting my indoor cat go outside?
Before making big changes (like letting your indoor cat go outside), you need to check with your vet. Make sure your cat has all the shots it needs, that it’s perfectly healthy, and that there are no issues with the idea of going outdoors.
Once the vet has cleared your indoor cat for a little outdoor adventure, make sure you take it one step at a time. Don’t go all out on your first day. Take a little walk and then come back. Cover a little more ground every day you go out. Take a day off every now and then.
Slowly work your way up and always check whether your cat is doing okay or not. No matter how confident you are, always stay with your cat.
Should I let an indoor cat go outside alone?
Your indoor cat should never go outside unsupervised. It can get lost, face an attack, or worse. You should always stay with your cat and keep it under your control if you decide to let it out. A harness is a great way to keep control without harming your cat.
Even if you think your cat will be safe from harm, make sure you’re always under control.
For example, plenty of cat owners let their cats roam free in their deck – but that’s a mistake! Your cat can trip and fall from big heights, and that’s not something that you want to happen.
Going outside is a huge risk for a cat to take – and you need to be out there to stop harm from happening.
Can an indoor cat learn to survive outside on their own?
Cats are quick to adapt and can overcome a lot of obstacles on their own – but surviving outside is a little too much to ask for an indoor cat. This type of cat has guaranteed food and shelter, something that they won’t know how to get outside.
Can an indoor cat adapt? Absolutely! Is it likely for an indoor cat to adapt successfully to the wild? That’s asking a little too much.
There are certain cases where indoor cats survived out in the wild for long enough to come back home. Unfortunately, they are the exception, not the norm.
Instincts are important, though. And cats have plenty of them. An indoor cat may not be used to hunt or scavenge, but they know how to do it. It’s in their genetics!
You should always bring a cat inside if you have the chance, though.
Can I teach an indoor cat to become an outdoor cat?
You can train your indoor cat to hunt, hide, and defend itself from predators – but only if you know how to do it. Unlike dogs, cats are hard to train. They simply don’t care enough to learn. It’s not an impossible task, but it’s a hard one to pull.
Let’s put it like this: have you ever called your cat? It’s scientifically proven that cats recognize voices, know their name, and know when they are being called – but cats do not care enough to pay attention to any of that.
Can you train your cat to do something? Yes, of course. Can you take it so far that you can train an indoor cat to survive outdoors? That’s a tough job. One you definitely don’t want to face!
Can an indoor cat survive outside during the winter?
Cats can handle the cold pretty well, but once temperatures go down past a certain number, they are at risk. No cat can survive outside when the temperatures dip below freezing. That’s when they need to seek shelter to survive – and indoor cats are not that good at finding shelter on their own.
Your indoor cat will have twice as much trouble as an average outdoor cat when the winter hits. House cats are used to stay inside where it’s warm and cozy. Going outside during the winter is not fun at all, especially for thin-coated cats.
Will an indoor cat survive for a little time? Sure! Can it survive for days on end? Well, unless it gets inside some sort of shelter, it’s unlikely for that to happen. Don’t worry, though! Cats are quick to find shelter when temperatures start to drop.
Is it better for a cat to live indoor or outdoor?
You should always try to keep your cat indoors. Sure, felines have survived for thousands of years outside – but that’s no place for a domestic cat to live. Your cat will always be thankful if you let it stay inside where it’s warm and there’s plenty of food to eat!
Remember, cats will always have a better life inside. You can always buy toys for your pet if you’re worried about it being bored or getting fat. There’s always a better solution than letting your cat go out!