Will indoor cats survive outside, or will they make long enough to be rescued? Cats owners often wonder if their cats will survive if they get lost or if they get out because indoor cats are spoiled compared to outdoor cats, and most of their problems are solved for them.
Typically, indoor cats are not likely to survive outside. This is because indoor cats are used to food and any other necessity to be provided to them. So, even though they can rely on their hunting instincts to some degree, they will have difficulty getting food, water, and shelter successfully.
Let’s go into details on what prevents indoor cats from surviving for long outside and what a cat owner can do to perverse their cat’s survival instincts.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OUTDOOR CATS AND INDOOR CATS?
Cats are cats, and all of them are born with the same predatory instant and survival drive. However, when they are kittens, cats learn most of the skills they will use later in life. Indoor cats, since when they were born, are provided with food and shelter.
Indoor cats do not need to wake up with the idea to find and hunt down their prey, with all that it requires. In fact, hunting requires a lot of skills. Cats have to move fast, silently, and have to be effective.
Indoor cats, all they have to do, is to walk to their food bowl to find what they need, or if they do not see any food, at max go to their owner meowing like crazy or activate their purring machine. Even if indoor cats can still hunt, after a while, they lose part of their skills.
Outdoor cats learn very fast to be alert to any danger sign by monitoring any motion signal, new smell, vibration, and more. Because their survival depends on whether or not they can rely on their skills, outdoor cats keep their senses very sharp. On the other hand, indoor cats learn to trust their owner and environment, and their senses are not alert.
WILL INDOOR CATS SURVIVE OUTSIDE?
Typically, indoor cats will have a hard time adjusting very fast to outdoor life. There are many factors to judge when considering if an indoor cat will survive as a stray cat. For example, how long is the cat living indoor? Has the cat kept hunting? What is the cat age? How is the cat’s personality?
I remember one of my cats once got out. We live on the first floor, and the entrance faces a balcony leading to a stare case that brings to the courtyard. My cat was able to go down only one-third of the staircase, and then he got scared and decided to sit in the middle of the stairs, completely paralyzed.
When I called him, he started to meow, and I had to go to pick him up and carry him back home because he still would not move. The same happens to my neighbor’s cat. He went out and was sitting in the middle of the staircase and meowing for an entire day until they went to pick him up.
Obviously, those are extreme cases of cats that are not used to being outside and are also shy. So what can increase the chances of indoor cats’ survival once out?
Here are some things that can help an indoor cat survive outside:
- Can the cat hunt?
- Has the indoor cat spent some time outside to get used to the outdoor life?
- Is the cat shy?
- Has the cat shown to be able to protect himself?
- Have you seen if your cat is able to fine the way back once outside?
But, of course, those are just some indications. In some cases, even indoor cats are let out from time to time or keep hunting inside the house. If you have a spoiled cat that has never gone outside of his comfort zone, it is difficult to think that cat can survive outside for long.
WHAT CAN KILL AN INDOOR CAT ONCE OUTDOOR?
Indoor cats, finding themself outside in the streets, can die for several reasons. The most common reasons are already listed above, which means lack of food and water because they do not know how to hunt.
But there are other things. For example, they can get infections or get poisoned. Cats do not know which food or which water is clean. They can get worms or parasites, making them sick or get infected by another animal bite.
Typically, cats can survive hot and cold weather. However, cats may die if the temperature is too extreme and they have nowhere to go to find shelter. In addition, other cats or dogs can be a source of potential danger.
If the indoor cat is not used to fight and protect himself from other animals, he can get attacked and suffer negative consequences. Cars are another source of danger. Cats may not know how to cross the street and can end up being hit by a car. The list goes on. Outdoor cats are faced with many difficult situations.
HOW LONG AN AND INDOOR CAT SURVIVE OUTSIDE?
Indoor cats survive outside for a longer time if they can hunt and find food and water. If they can hunt, they can survive longer. On the other hand, if a cat, coming from an indoor reality, can’t hunt, it can take only a few weeks for him to die of starvation.
Therefore, the ability of a cat to stay safe and protect itself from other animals is a vital factor that determines how long a cat can survive outside. Of course, some cats can be lucky and find another home or a stranger that feeds them. But it is not always the case. Once a cat is outdoor, that cat needs to rely on himself for survival.
An indoor cat that has been spoiled and doesn’t know anything about surviving outside, that suddenly finds himself on the street, is in trouble. This cat will try to wait for someone that will come to rescue and feed him.
This is why cats owner must microchip their cats and make sure they do not escape accidentally. Alternatively, they can teach their cats to find their way home by bringing them outside, under supervision.
When possible, maybe walking cats on a leash and allowing them to become familiar with the environment can be a good idea.
WHAT CATS OWNERS CAN DO TO MAKE THEIR CATS OUTDOOR READY?
Fortunately, indoor cats are commonly staying safe with their loving owners. However, things can happen. For example, a cat can run away, or something can happen to the owner, and they could find themselves in the streets.
Cats owners could try to educate and familiarize their cats with the outdoor environment. In some cases, a cat could be allowed to walk outside to smell and become familiar with the territory around the house.
It is valid for people who have a backyard or a door that goes straight to a street and even an apartment complex. Cats can learn how to get to the house walking with their owner. Even if not on a leash, cats can be supervised once outside.
I remember getting one of my cats down to the garden for a little bit to get him used to come home and learn a bit about the outside world. He was able to learn where was the house door wheater he was coming from downstairs or the upper floor.
I remember that he would leave his marks around on his way up and down (not peeing, but rubbing his face around!). Other things that can be done are the following:
- Bring your cat out on tours
- Provide cat trees so that the cat can climb and exercise
- Get a second cat so they can play with each other, pretending to fight and keep in shape
- Make sure you cat is vaccinated against the most common infections and parasites
Here are some ideas of cat’s trees that can be used:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can an indoor cat survive outside in the winter?
Indoor cats, like any other cat, have the ability to protect themselves from cold weather. A normal winter with a moderately cold temperature is not a problem for a cat. But, in those places where winter is extreme and so summer, cats may not survive if they do not have a warmer place to stay.
Should you let cats outside?
Cat owners should let the cat outside depending on the type of cat and their personality. Security and the area one lives in can be other important considerations. For example, some cats owners have an enclosed backyard. In this case, it is secure to let a cat out. The cat would not get in trouble and will not run away. A cat owner should figure out if the cat can come back or get in trouble. All the important questions should be figured out before getting a cat out.
Can I take my indoor cat outside on a leash?
You can take your indoor cat outside on a leash but some cats will be difficult to get used to it. It is better to have an indoor cat get out from time to time and become familiar with the outside world. Cats can learn so much from it and enjoy their time outside.