Why Do Indoor Cats Live Longer?

Why Do Indoor Cats Live Longer?

If you are a first-time cat owner, you may be pondering whether to let your cat spend time outdoors or to keep her indoors.  Before you make your decision you should be aware that letting your cat go outside my shorten his lifespan compared to indoor cats.

Why do indoor cats live longer?

Indoor cats live longer than outdoor cats for the following reasons:

1. They do not get hit by cars.

One major cause of cat deaths especially in the USA is being killed by cars. This may be more prevalent in urban areas where there are plenty of cars. It is very difficult for a driver to avoid a cat that suddenly jumps or runs out of nowhere.

2. They are safe from many diseases.

Cats that are allowed outdoors are more exposed to many health issues since they come in contact with other cats that may be infected with parasites and diseases. If your cat has free access to the outdoors she may be more prone to feline leukemia, feline infectious peritonitis or FIP, feline distemper, feline immunodeficiency virus and zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted to humans like rabies, ringworm, hantavirus and tick paralysis. 

Cats may also develop skin cancer if they are over-exposed to the sun and light-colored cats may develop squamous cell carcinoma which is a painful disease. Eating rodents like mice may also expose your cat to contagious diseases. 

3. You can monitor your cat’s urinary and  bowel health.

If you keep your cat indoors you can easily check if she has difficulties in urinating or passing poop. You can monitor her each time she goes into the litter box and you can easily spot if there is mucus or blood in the litter.  If you let your cat go outside it is more difficult to monitor her.

4. They are safe from wildlife dangers.

While cats are predators they are also prey to larger animals like coyotes and native big cats, large birds like owls and raptors like falcons and hawks. Large dogs in the neighborhood may also harm your cat. A study in Tucson, Arizona found that at least 42 percent of a coyote’s diet are cats. If you keep your cat indoors, she will be safe from these predators.

5. They do not get injuries and abscesses from fighting. 

Cats that are not familiar with each other tend to fight as they are territorial by nature. These fights may result in abscessed wounds which could be fatal. Cats may also contract Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV if they are bitten by infected cats. 

6. They are safe from human abuse. 

Cats that have access to the outdoors are prone to human abuse. Cat haters may willfully kill cats. While there are now stricter animal protection laws, senseless animal killings still prevail.

7. They get plenty of exercise. 

Who says only outdoor cats get all the exercise? Indoor cats do get plenty of exercise through scratching posts, interactive toys and cat trees. These are safer forms of exercise compared to running from predators and climbing on high trees outdoors. 

You can also take your indoor cat outside by putting her on a leash which can be done successfully with adequate training. Your cat can also enjoy the outdoors and have adequate exercise with the help of a cat enclosure.  

8. They do not freeze in the winter or during chilly weather. 

Aside from predators and the danger of being hit by automobiles, your cat may wander too far and suffer from hypothermia if the weather gets too chilly. 

Other reasons why you should keep your cat indoors

Other reasons to keep your cat inside include:

Indoor cats do not create neighbor problems. 

Outdoor cats may roam free and wander into your neighbor’s yard. This may cause tension between you and your neighbors especially if your cat uses their backyard as a litter box. Some people may also contact animal control centers to pick up your cat.

They are not a danger to wildlife. 

Cats have an instinct to hunt prey so if they are allowed outdoors they will most likely chase and kill birds, rabbits and small wildlife like raccoons and squirrels. Studies made by the US Fish and Wildlife Service found that outdoor cats, especially stray cats, are the leading threats to wildlife. These outdoor domestic and stray cats combined have killed an estimated 1.3 to 3.7 billion birds and more or less 6.3 to 22.3 billion mammals in each year. 

Research also found that each pet cat on average kills more or less 75 animals per year although most of the owners are not aware of it.  To prevent your cat from contributing to depleted wildlife keep her indoors where she stays safe and well-fed. 

They do not get lost.  

If you allow your cat to go outside, she may get lost and not find her way back home. Unfortunately, only an estimated three percent of recovered cats are eventually returned to their owners. This means that although your cat has a microchip or collar, it is not always a guarantee that she will be returned home. 

Indoor cats are not stolen. 

Some times cats can get stolen. Catnappers usually take cats that roam the streets including cats that hang around in yards and front lawns. 


Indoor cats have a greater chance to live a long life compared to outdoor cats. Studies reveal that an average outdoor cat’s lifespan is only one to five years while indoor cats usually live from 12 to 20 years.