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Is inside better than outside when it comes to owning cats?

By Al Winzerling

Since the 1990s, cats have surpassed dogs in popularity as pets in the U.S. and Europe. Generally, cats are less demanding and easier to take care of for a busy pet owner.

If you are a cat owner or are thinking about becoming a cat parent, a question you may ask yourself is: Do I want an inside cat, outside cat or both? There are several things to consider in making this decision, and your cat or cats may like to be involved in the decision-making process.

Here are some pros and cons of an inside-only cat:

Inside cats have a general life expectancy of approximately 18 years. Typically, outdoor cats have a life expectancy of less than 3 years.Cats love the outdoors and it stimulates their curious nature. Indoor cats usually get bored with their lives, so it becomes more important for their owners to provide exercise and stimulation.There are many perils outside, such as injury from other animals (including other cats), cats killing wildlife, disease, parasites such as fleas and ticks and getting lost or disturbing a neighbor.Cats prefer going to their bathroom of choice, usually outside and not in a litter box.The most common cause of injury or early death with an outside cat is from motor vehicles. Indoor cats are safe from these perils.Cats seem to be better adjusted and happy with a combination lifestyle of indoors and outside.

What can a cat owner do to foster a happy, well-adjusted cat with this in mind?

Most mishaps with outdoor cats happen after dark. Allowing your cat a daytime outdoor life and bringing it in at night will certainly reduce much of the risk. Getting your feline to come home before dark is not always easy, especially if they are hunting and in hot pursuit of some critter. Cats are trainable, usually on their own terms, but offering a treat to coax it in at the end of the day is one usually successful technique.

There are things that can make your full time indoor cat happier and well adjusted:

Provide vantage places where your cat can sit at a door or window and enjoy looking outdoors. Cats especially enjoy a vantage point that is high off the ground, providing a feeling of safety.Provide toys and play with your cat to help keep them engaged and introduce exercise. Inside cats get bored, so have enough toys to switch off to keep them interested.Generally speaking, cats are pretty easy.

La Plata CountyHumane Society continues a Trap, Neuter and Return program for feral cats in the county; thus, reducing the numbers of wild, unwanted cats.

It is estimated that an unspayed cat will have three litters per year with four kittens per litter.

The Humane Society traps, neuters and returns hundreds of cats per year.

Al Winzerling is a La Plata County Humane Society board member.