Some cats enjoy the best of both worlds, napping on a couch in a warm house and hunting rodents in the wild. If you have or are considering giving your pet these freedoms, you may wonder how long do indoor outdoor cats live?
We answer this question and others in this article. From health and safety to feeding routines, we help you determine the best path for your cat to live a long life.
What Is an Indoor-Outdoor Cat?
An indoor-outdoor cat mixes outdoor and indoor lifestyles. Indoor-outdoor cats can explore the outside world as much as their owner allows. And they also have a safe, warm place to come home to.
Indoor-outdoor cats can vary in the percentage of time they spend in each type of environment. Some will spend most of their time in the wild and only come in at night or during inclement weather. Others will simply pop out for a quick stroll and fresh air before returning to the safety of home.
When outside, cats like to explore. You’ll often find these natural hunters chasing mice or squirrels around the yard. Or they may have fun playing with falling leaves. Inside, cats are generally a bit lazy after time outdoors. They may catch up on sleep, meals, or snuggles with their pet parent. And more energetic cats will likely beg for playtime indoors as well.
What Are the Benefits for a Cat Who Lives Indoors and Outdoors?
The indoor outdoor cat lifestyle offers several advantages for you and your cat. Rather than spending their time cooped up inside, your furry friend can explore open spaces and forests, exercise, and stay mentally stimulated. At the same time, their indoor time can help keep them safe and socialized.
Unlike outdoor-only cats, they’ll tend to trust you more. You’ll also have to worry less about an otherwise unprepared indoor cat that may sneak outside and get lost or hurt. Those who spend regular time outdoors will be familiar with the surrounding area, know how to get home, and learn the skills they need to protect themselves.
Pro Tip: Read our guide for bringing a new cat home.
What Are the Risks of Letting Your Cat Be Inside and Outside?
Unfortunately, letting your cat spend time indoors and outdoors can also present some risks. Most dangers come from the outdoors, which could shorten their lifespans. No matter how familiar they are with their environment, cats that spend time outside can get lost. And they may not be able to survive extended periods without human help.
They also face numerous hazards and threats, from predators to pesticides and poisons. They also can get hit by cars. Cats that spend time outdoors can also bring unpleasant elements of nature inside. That includes dirt and dust, fleas, ticks, or other bugs which could harm other indoor-only pets.
What Is the Average Lifespan of an Indoor Outdoor Cat?
To provide an answer to how long do indoor outdoor cats live, it’s vital to understand the major differences in lifespan. While health issues may occur and longevity varies somewhat by breed, most indoor cats live for 13 to 17 years. In comparison, outdoor cats usually have far shorter lifespans, sometimes as little as two years. However, they often live five to seven years when someone feeds and cares for them.
As indoor outdoor cats combine elements of both lifestyles, they’ll generally have an average lifespan. While any time outdoors always poses the risk of a sudden injury or death, you can expect indoor outdoor cats to normally live between five and 10 years with good care. However, indoor-outdoor cat owners we’ve known have had their cats live as long as 18 years.
Why Do Outdoor Cats Have a Short Life Span?
Now that you know how long indoor outdoor cats typically live, you may wonder what is responsible for this decreased lifespan compared to their indoor-only siblings. As mentioned above, the outdoors presents numerous hazards for them to avoid.
Depending on your location, your cat may face predators ranging from other cats and large dogs to coyotes or large birds of prey. Your cat will also have to deal with threats from your fellow humans. While those who deliberately hurt pets are rare, your neighbors may inadvertently harm them with pesticides or other chemicals or by planting flowers or bushes poisonous to cats. And there’s always the threat of cars. Even the most well-meaning drivers sometimes can’t avoid a tiny creature darting into the road.
In addition, the weather is one of the most unavoidable and consistent things that shortens an outdoor cat’s lifespan. The hot sun, wind, rain, snow, and other elements, day in and day out, can take a toll. The more time they spend outside, the more significant these effects will be, and the shorter their life will likely be.
How Do You Help Your Indoor-Outdoor Cat Have a Safe and Healthy Lifestyle?
While an indoor outdoor cat will undoubtedly face some risks, there’s plenty you can do to help keep them safe. Follow these tips to ensure how long your indoor outdoor cats live and enjoy life.
Pet experts discourage declawing your cat. First, it’s a painful procedure that can lead to long-term pain, behavioral and mobility issues, and other harm to your cat. This increases for cats that spend any time outdoors. They may need their claws even more for protection, climbing, and other uses that indoor cats don’t.
Regular Vet Visits and Vaccinations
Just because your cat spends time in the wild doesn’t mean it needs to be treated like a wild animal! Taking your indoor outdoor cat to regular veterinarian visits will help extend how long it lives. It will help prevent any minor health issues from becoming more significant and ensures your furry friend is up to date on vaccines. This is particularly important for outdoor pets that may come in contact with wild animals.
Don’t forget flea and tick prevention, as well as deworming. Once again, your indoor outdoor cat will come in contact with all sorts of critters, so don’t let their health suffer because of it.
Get Your Cat Microchipped
While you’re at the vet, it’s worth spending the extra few minutes to get your cat microchipped. The process involves inserting a harmless microchip between the shoulder blades, a device they won’t even be able to feel.
This chip contains your contact information and other vital health data. This can help reunite you with your cat if they’re ever hurt and are taken to a vet or notify you if the worst should happen while outdoors. We also recommend keeping a collar and identification tag on your cat.
Spay or Neuter
Appropriately caring for kittens is crucial. Indoor-outdoor cats who aren’t spayed or neutered may end up getting pregnant. This can be a problem for owners of female cats who may suddenly have an unexpected litter of kittens to take care of.
The simple procedure can also go a long way toward reducing territorial behavior, which may lead your cat to play it safe and run away rather than scrap with another animal they encounter outdoors. It also helps reduce the number of unwanted cats that are euthanized annually.
Provide Access to Water Inside and Outside
Staying hydrated is vital for your indoor outdoor cat to stay healthy. Whether your fur baby is safely snoozing on the couch or roaming the backyard, you’ll want to ensure they have access to clean water at all hours. Cats without easily accessible outdoor water may drink from unsafe sources, which could carry bacteria, chemicals, or other harmful substances.
Have a Meal Routine
It can feel challenging to set a routine with an animal that likes to come and go as it pleases, but this is crucial to keeping your cat healthy and building its trust. For example, if you feed your cat indoors, ensure you let them in at the same time every day, so they’ll know it’s feeding time. The same goes for those who set food outside instead.
Simply developing a regular feeding time and routine can help your cat realize they can count on food being there when they need it, even if they prefer to go out hunting now and then.
Provide a Litter Box Indoors
While outdoors, cats can do their business pretty much wherever they please. Obviously, this is not the case inside your home. Providing a litter box and training your indoor outdoor cat to use it is also a must-do for everyone’s sake. It will also prevent you from cleaning up unpleasant messes all the time.
You may be concerned about odor or mess if you’ve never used litter boxes. Various advancements, from auto-cleaning litter robots to new litter materials, address these problems.
Adjust to the Seasons
Just like you, your cat’s habits will change with the seasons. They may spend long hours exploring the neighborhood on pleasant summer days, only coming home to eat or sleep. Conversely, they might only pop outside briefly or not at all during chillier winter days or when it’s raining or snowing.
For the first year with your indoor outdoor cat, keep a careful eye on their behaviors and habits to see what works best for them and you.
Is An Indoor-Outdoor Cat Right for You?
Indoor outdoor cats are a unique type of pet that’s certainly not for everyone. Some cat owners may be a bit too protective of their pets to be able to let them outside. How long indoor outdoor cats live is a strong deterrent for many who feel the risk of a shortened lifespan is unbearable.
On the flip side, some owners may not want an outdoor cat to come inside their home and bring in potential bugs and dirt. Still, other owners may be fine with letting their cat outdoors as a concept. But they might live in a city or neighborhood with a particularly unsuitable environment for indoor outdoor pets.
Nevertheless, many owners find having an indoor outdoor cat to be perfect for them. Their cats get plenty of time to explore, play, and exercise in the wild. At the same time, the cats and their owners enjoy the benefits of regularly having them inside a nice warm home. They come in for food, protection from the elements, and a snuggle or two.
You may be concerned with how long do indoor outdoor cats live, but keeping this information in mind can help ensure many happy years for your furry friend.
Is an indoor-outdoor cat right for you?
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