I don’t see as many cats outdoors these days, but there are still a few strays, cats “owned” by someone but spending lots of time outside, and cats from lovely homes but allowed out for hunting opportunities. Some very enlightened people allow their cats to go out, and I understand it. Cats are hunters, and actually are well suited to nothing else. Problems arise in part because we have created such an artificial world, one full of hazards for our cats.
Here are many of them, including the natural ones:
exposure to extreme weather
large predators – humans, dogs, coyotes, and the list is growing
getting trapped in sheds, garages, and abandoned houses
pesticides and chemical lawn treatment / poisons
parasites such as fleas, roundworms, ticks
Scary, sure. So when we keep our kitties indoors, we’re asking them to give up a lot. If you can build a full-blown “catio” your cats will love it. In any case, you can do plenty to make their indoor home more interesting.
You may want to provide some or all of these features in your home:
water fountains – create incentives to get cats to drink a little more water, and for some cats to splash in
patio-type enclosures – designed just for cats, and sometimes accessible through an existing door or window of your home (search online for “catios” or cat enclosures for ideas / plans)
perches on windowsills or other cat furniture for climbing, sitting, sleeping and spying on wildlife. Cats are climbers and individual cats may prefer mid-level or high- level resting areas
wildlife feeders near windows – some cats spend the winter around those windows!
potted oat grass, available at any pet store, just for cats – some cats love it, others ignore it. You don’t know until you try and your kitty may just stop chewing your ferns
scratching surfaces – from high-end sisal posts to cardboard scratchers – every cat needs them
Remember that your cat, as a lone hunter by nature, is keenly aware of his own dietary requirements. Many cats that want to run outside are frustrated by your food offerings. More about that at a later date.