Animal & Bylaw Services strongly recommends keeping cats indoors because this leads to longer, healthier and safer lives for cats. The average life span of an indoor cat is 12 to 15 years compared to 2 to 5 years for an outdoor cat. This drastic difference is due to the dangers cats face outdoors such as traffic, unfriendly animals, poisons, diseases, frostbite, dehydration and abuse from humans.
In Calgary, the Responsible Pet Ownersip Bylaw states that cats must not be "at large". This means they must be confined to their owner's property. The easiest way to comply with this bylaw is to keep cats indoors.
Keeping cats indoors also eliminate neighbourhood disputes caused when cats roam onto neighbouring property and exhibit annoying cat behaviours such as digging, meowing, mating or spraying.
Despite popular belief, cats don't need to go outdoors. Indoor cats can live fulfilled and happy lives without going outside.
Guidelines for creating happy indoor cats:
- Play with and groom your cat to establish loving bonds.
- Cats scratch to loosen old nail layers and mark territory, so provide a scratching post. Entice the cat to use it by rubbing it with catnip and placing it near a window.
- Provide toys, so cats can chase and pounce.
- Provide a pot of cat grass or catnip.
- Provide fresh water and quality cat food that meets your cat's needs.
- Brush your cat and have his claws trimmed regularly. Brush his teeth with special toothpaste or feed hard, crunchy food to help remove tooth tartar.
- Cats need yearly vaccinations, so check with your veterinarian.
- Consider the companionship of a second cat.
- If you want your cat to go outdoors, consider teaching him to walk with a harness and lightweight leash or build a cat run or outdoor cage, which allows cats to climb and run in a non-threatened area.