Indoor Cat vs. Outdoor Cat

In general, l feel that letting cats go out greatly shortens their lifespan. (And worrying about why they didn’t come home will shorten yours.) The greatest danger seems to be cars. In spite of that, we do allow some of our cats to have an inside/outside life. We have some cats that were likely born outside and grew up outside. Though they have gotten friendly with us, even sleep on our bed sometimes, they have not tolerated inside life very well — or got along with other cats in an inside-only community. We felt our only choice was to allow them outside.

If your cat has not yet tasted the pleasure of the world beyond the genkan, I would not let them out. Instead, find ways to bring the outside in. Cut them some grass or green bamboo stalks and leaves. Watch them eat it up, and then likely vomit it out to clean their stomachs. Get a concrete block and leave it outside for a couple weeks. Bring it in, watch your cats sniff and rub against it. Give them a place in the sun or an open to air window to enjoy inside, that they can not escape from. If you have a veranda or a little garden space (lucky you!), look for ways to enclose it. You can give your kitties a little piece of paradise: include a dead tree to climb, remove dirt cause they will certainly do their business there.

If you have other ideas, please share them in the comments.



  1. Kelsey

    My cat is an indoor/outdoor cat and she is both happier and healthier as a result. She has been going outside since she was a kitten (although she was never a stray) and is used to cars and other cats. She gets much more exercise and fresh air outdoors than she does staying inside. Especially in Japan, where our apartment is so small, I think it is important for her to have the space to roam and extra stimulae. Of course the outdoors is a more dangerous place (for everyone) but you would never lock your child in the house so you didn’t have to worry about them. Just wanted to present the other side.

  2. Hi Kelsey,

    Yes, that is a very good point. I think it is important to do what you feel is best for your cat. With the right indoor environment, it might be possible to keep a cat happy indoors, but it can be really tricky in Japan with our tiny, little apartments. My own cat is an indoor/outdoor cat too. I would like to keep her safe from the dangers of the outside world, but she is an animal and I feel that it is her right to go outside (and she is a very, very strong supporter of that view).

  3. Outdoor cats do not necessarily have a shorter life span than indoor cats. One of my friends’ grandparents’ cats is NINETEEN YEARS OLD and she has never been let inside their house. However, my friend’s grandparents live in the country at the bottom of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River at least three miles away from the highway, so some of the dangers facing outdoor cats are not present. Also, their cat hangs out in the garage a lot, as they still put out food and water for her. They also have other cats, which are all outdoors, but I never see them, as they must not like people. The nineteen-year-old cat does love people despite it being outside 24/7 though. Given the right surroundings, an outdoor cat can fend for itself provided it isn’t declawed.

  4. Forgot to mention the Mississippi River is in the United States, since I forgot this is a Japanese message board so some people reading this may not have heard of the Mississippi. My friends’ grandparents live in the state of Iowa, and the Mississippi is the dividing line between Iowa and Illinois at that point (I live in Illinois).

  5. Cynizen

    Statistics aimed at making people afraid of living also now apply to animals. Beyond basic needs being met, I think that a balance of love, protection, dignity, and independence is best for for both humans and animals.

    Random: PETA wants to get rid of animals as pets. So do they think they should be free? Or extinct?

  6. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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