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Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA)

Why are free-roaming cats a problem?  Why should I keep my cat indoors?

These are important questions.  Risks to outdoor cats include traffic,  predation from larger animals, and  altercations with other cats and wildlife which can cause serious injury, disease, or parasitic infection.  These risks can be life-threatening.  In fact, the average lifespan of cats permitted to roam freely outside is estimated to be only 2 to 5 years, whereas indoor-only cats can live to be18 years or more.  In addition, cats that are permitted to roam outdoors unsupervised can have a negative effect on local wildlife populations; as natural predators, even the common housecat can do an incredibly effective job killing local bird, rodent, and reptiles. This can cause serious environmental problems, especially if there are endangered species present.  Furthermore, any unsterilized cats permitted to roam outdoors will almost certainly produce litters of kittens, contributing to the cat overpopulation problem.

For these reasons, in combination with sterilization, vaccination, and identification (by collar/tag, microchip, or tattoo), the MSPCA recommends that cat owners keep their cats indoors or provide confined and supervised outdoor time with appropriate anti-parasitic treatments for fleas, ticks, and mites.  While some people believe that their cats ďlikeĒ to go outside, itís important that we, as human beings, not transfer our emotions and desires to our pets, and recognize that there are ample opportunities for stimulation and enrichment play with a wide variety of toys, which allow cats to exhibit and indulge its natural behaviors (stalking, chasing, scratching, stretching) safely indoors.  These also help to foster the human-animal bond you share with your cat.  Even if you have a cat that is already accustomed to going outside, itís possible to make the transition to life indoors with just a little patience and your feline friend will thank you with many more years of health and happiness.


updated August 12, 2013     send email