Can indoor cats really survive outside and if so for how long? While ideally, it would not happen, with cats its always possible that they might end up outside and need to survive to at some point. I don’t think it’s very likely that my indoor cat Boo would survive outside for very long. However, it would be wrong to say that no cats can. I believe even though my mum’s cat Willow was not taught to hunt and has been in cat indoor cat all of her life, she would adapt. The differences are that my cat is half ragdoll and my mum’s cat is pure Moggy. They also have very different personalities and come from different backgrounds.
While some people say that an indoor cat can survive outside other say no it can’t, that it’s not possible. That most indoor cats die if they are left outside. Perhaps a better question would be can my indoor cat survive outside? As each cat is different. To answer that question you need to know why a cat is likely to survive outside and why it might not.
Ideally, if you are thinking of changing your cat from an indoor cat to an outdoor cat then you would look at how to get it used to being outside. However, there is a big difference between a cat going outside some of the time, even if it’s an outdoor cat, and a cat that has to survive outside for a longer period.
Can An Indoor Cat Survive Outside?
There are several things that you can think about to see whether your cat may survive outside or not. Ideally don’t just let it out. If you have an indoor cat just simply letting it out it’s not a good idea it would be better to transition it to the outside gently and gradually. This way you’re less likely to lose it. Some cats are never going to be any good outside.
There is a huge list of things that are dangerous for cats that go outside even for a short time. There are all kinds of things to think about like cars from poisoning to other cats. you can see the list here.
If your cat is unused to being outside there is a higher chance of them being affected by any outdoor hazards.
Is My Cat a Pedigree?
Survival outside for your cat means that it needs to have survival instincts. Some cat breeds have had these bread out of them. My cat Boo for instance, although he’s only half a rag doll, has zero traffic sense and not very good hunting and skills. In addition, he’s way too soft. Whether that would change if he was outside because he’d gotten lost I hope I hope to never find out.
Many pedigree cat breeds are meant to be indoor cats, therefore, they do not have the instincts that a normal cat would have. It makes going outside even more dangerous for them. You would need to look at your individual cat breed to understand its chances. For example, if you had a Bengal cat they are not really very good indoor cats and they are avid hunters, so they would probably survive really well as they’re quite aggressive.
Is My Cat an Older Cat?
If your cat is an older cat it’s less like to be able to survive outside especially if it’s been indoors for any length of time or even it’s whole life. Older cats are not so fast and agile as the younger cats. If they’re outside and round other cats they may be bullies or they may fight them for territory and food. They may also not be so good at hunting.
What Kind of Personality Has my Cat Got?
Some cats are more aggressive than others. While being aggressive may get it into trouble, it’s also more likely to be able to defend itself than a nervous stressful a cat if it needs to. If your cat is easy-going you may find it may not survive so well. But cats can be so deceptive. They may be easy going with you, that doesn’t mean it can’t go outside and hunt very effectively.
Does My Cat Have Claws Or Has It Been Declawed?
In some countries, this isn’t an issue because in the UK, for instance, you not allowed to declaw your cat. It’s against the law. In other countries, you are allowed to declaw your cat. If your cat hasn’t got any claws its lost a lot of its defence capabilities so its chances of survival are reduced a lot.
Has My Cat Learnt to Hunt?
Cats are taught to hunt by their mum. So many domestic cats do not have proper hunting abilities as they are often removed from their mum’s well before their hunting skills develop properly. Typically kittens learn to hunt from 8 weeks onwards. It’s also from 8 weeks onwards that they often leave their mums to go to their new human homes.
If as a human you teach your cat to hunt then it will learn. So even outdoor domestic cats might not be the best hunters. Although some cats still retain this ability. If your cat does not know how to hunt then is a very good possibility if it was outside for any length of time that it would starve.
What Environment Would Your Cat Be In?
Would it be in the countryside or would it be in the town? Many people would think of being in the countryside would be better and in many ways it is. However, the countryside can hold its own dangers for cats.
If you live in an area where there is hunting of any kind then your cat is in danger there may be traps or they may get shot or poisoned for example. Although food like mice and birds should be more plentiful.
If your cat is in a town then it may be able to survive on scraps but of course, there are other hazards like people being cruel and cars etc.
Does My Cat Understand Traffic?
Many cats that are killed are younger cats because they just do not understand the traffic. Ironically it’s intermittent traffic that can be the most dangerous for a cat. So even being in the countryside is no guarantee against cat injury. A cat that’s been inside all of its life is no different than a young cat as it just has no idea about cars. It may panic and run out in front of the car just as easily as running away from it. As cats like to hunt in the early hours or late evening this is particularly dangerous as of course, the cars have already got the headlights on.
For example, my cat Boo just goes crazy around cars. Even though he knows what they are he would just spin around on his leash and would just as easily run in front of it as away from it. He has zero traffic sense. So his survival rate wouldn’t be very high. Which is why it is in my adoption contract to keep him as an indoor cat.
My sister’s cat, Scarab was seriously injured when he was a young cat. He got hit by a tractor as they go up the road quite quickly. He nearly lost his life.
Reduce The Need For My Indoor Cat to Survive Outside
Even if your cat is an indoor cat it would be a good idea to have it microchipped as if it does shoot out the door one day and gets lost you stand more of a chance of getting it back. Even if it’s stolen there is a small possibility of it being returned.
In addition, it’s a good idea to get your cat neutered even if it is an indoor cat unless you are planning on breeding from it. Neutered cats are less likely to roam too far away when they do go outside. They are also less aggressive.
Be very careful when you’re opening doors so they do not shoot out. I’ve heard of indoor cats getting lost this way or killed because they shoot straight out into the traffic.
If you are letting your indoor cat outside make sure that it’s under supervision. If you can teach it to use a harness that might be a good idea. And some people have large activity centres outdoors for their cats. This depends on how you view these things and your cat’s personality and temperament.