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Should You Let Your Cat Roam?

When choosing a cat to bring home, do you go with an indoor vs. outdoor cat? Many cat lovers feel angst about this decision because they don’t want to deprive their cat of the full range of cat behaviours. Other people are quite happy having an indoor cat that won’t be able to deposit their bird or mouse catch for the day on their pillow. Cats are different also. Most cats when trained from a young age will be happy with the indoor life. Some cats however will always be trying to escape and owners of those cats are much more likely to have to allow the cat outside recognizing the risks in doing so.

The best advice is always to consult with your veterinarian or veterinary team first. They are the absolute best resource in terms of helping you make wise decisions when it comes to your cat’s health and well-being.  

What are the risks involved with letting your cat roam outdoors?

Cats that spend a significant amount of time outdoors are at a much higher risk of a completely different set of problems. 

Being out in the elements, the environment, and having contact with other animals and people creates a long list of concerns, including:

  • Frostbite, hypothermia, and less frequently in Alberta heatstroke
  • Wounds from fighting with other animals
  • Bacterial, viral and fungal infections
  • Contagious diseases such as rabies, feline leukemia, and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
  • Parasites such as fleas, ticks, ringworm, and roundworms
  • Trauma from being hit by a car or abused by people
  • Poisoning from ingesting toxic chemicals like antifreeze and mouse poison

Additional Concerns for Letting Your Cat Outdoors

Other Cats:

Protect your cat from other cats. Keep them on a leash or secured in a cage or other confined space where they can’t get out (and other cats can’t get in). Catios are becoming increasingly popular.
Be sure an adult supervises your cat’s outdoor time to ensure strays cannot come into contact with them. Take your cat to the veterinarian at least once every year for vaccines, as well as parasite screening and treatment.

Loose dogs and wild animals:

Cats may be good hunters, but they also often wind up being hunted. Cats are commonly attacked by dogs and wild animals such as coyotes. The injuries a cat can sustain from a wild animal or a stray dog are very often serious and can be fatal.


Be careful about letting your cat outside especially if you live near a busy road. Cats can often get hit and some do not understand the dangers of vehicles. It's important for you to be their protector.

Toxins and poisons:

Outdoor cats also face danger from coming into contact with toxins, such as antifreeze, that are often ingested because they have a pleasant taste. Cats may also end up accidentally exposed to rodent poisons when they hunt and eat rodents that have recently ingested poison bait.

Animal cruelty:

Some cats may be at risk for animal cruelty. Unfortunately some people have been known to abuse cats by shooting them with a pellet gun, or trapping them for sport.

Winter Sheltering:

Sometimes cats who are outside in the winter will seek out a warm vehicle engine or the wheel wells of a vehicle to try and keep warm. If you do let your cat roam outside, it’s important to keep an eye on them to avoid having them climb into a nearby vehicle as it can often lead to fatal circumstances.

Do Indoor Cats Need Vaccines? 

Cat Vaccinations: What Cat Owners Need to Know

Tips on Keeping Your Indoor Cat Happy

Here are some tips to help your cat enjoy a good life indoors:

A Companion for Your Cat

The majority of cats benefit from friendship and companionship.  If you have room for two cats, that’s a positive. In some situations, cats can become friends with dogs.  Any situation that can help boost your cat’s self esteem and keep them busy is always welcome.  

Interactive Toys

Indoor cats love to keep busy.  Anytime you can provide them with interactive toys, you’ll be helping your cat to keep physically and mentally stimulated.

Scratching Posts & Indoor Environment

Scratching posts, climbing places, cat perches and hiding places are all beneficial for your cat. Sometimes your home may have natural places for your cats to enjoy the great indoors like a sunny perch on a windowsill, in some cases you may have to purchase or create a scratching post, climbing place or hiding place that will help your cat thrive.

Consult with your Veterinarian

If you have additional questions or concerns about what’s best for your cat, the best resource to turn to is your veterinarian or veterinary team. They’re cat lovers too, and will recommend the absolute best strategies for your cat and for you. 

Further reading: