Why Fresh Air is so Beneficial to Cats
Watch a cat stalking through the grass or simply relaxing in the sunshine, and it’s clear that they love being outside. If you live in the countryside, this isn’t much of an issue, and all country cats mix and match the great outdoors and the great indoors. In towns, however, owners may be less keen to let their cat spend a night on the tiles.
Town cats have shorter lifespans than country cats, on average. This is not due to the benefits of fresh air – it’s simply because most premature deaths in the cat population are caused by road accidents, and a town the cat has far more chances of quickly shedding its nine lives.
Why do cats like being outdoors?
Do you like spending time in the sunshine, with the fresh air in your lungs and a gentle breeze on your face? Cats are exactly the same. Like you, they get a buzz from life beyond the four walls. They are stimulated by movement, sounds and scents, and even the humblest garden has these in abundance. Cats will investigate whatever the world has to offer, and this gives them both mental and physical stimulation, a combination that results in a happy and healthy cat.
Research has shown that certain sounds, including the squeaks of rodents and the twittering of birds, is particularly stimulating for cats. They find these things satisfying and engaging on an instinctive level, and all animals need to keep their instincts happy.
If given the chance, cats will make full use of the possibilities of life in the fresh air – not just the immediate vicinity, but the much wider local area, sometimes prowling a territory with a radius of one mile from their home. They will form all kinds of relationships in this territory, some friendly and some not, but all part of the rich tapestry of cat life.
What this means is that access to the outdoors is a great stress reliever, giving a cat many of the things it needs in order to stay alert and content, and to allow it to chill in its natural habitat.
However, owners who want to keep their pets indoors should not be put off by this. They can still provide their pet with most of the benefits of the outdoor life.
How to bring the outdoors indoors
Breed – and therefore personality – plays a big part in a cat’s contentment. Some breeds – including the Burmese, the Siamese, the Korat, the Oriental and the Abyssinian – need the outdoors in the same way as a piano player needs a piano, and they will not be happy if denied access to nature. Others – including the Persian, the Russian Blue and the Ragdoll – seem to have been bred for a life on the sofa, and will not miss being outdoors one little bit. Most crossbreed cats like to enjoy the best of both worlds, so if your cat is going to live indoors, you will need to make the domestic space a bit more ‘wild’.
Providing stimulation with toys, including ones filled with catnip, is half the battle. You should also open your windows wide enough to let the fresh air and the scents and sounds indoors, without giving an escape route for the cat. Failing that, opening the door to the garden while closing off the inner doors will allow the fresh air to circulate.
If space allows, a cat run is a great option. This can be linked to the house via a cat flap on the door, allowing your pet to spend as much time outdoors as it wants. If the cat run is not connected to the house, you can let the cat spend time on the run while you’re out in the garden as well. Or, if you start early, you may be able to train your cat to walk on a lead. This needs careful planning, though, as avoiding dogs out on their walks is an important detail!
The main takeaways from this are that cats need fresh air, and all the things it represents. But at the same time, town cats who are happy with a life on the sofa can enjoy most of the fun and stimulation of the outdoors by staying indoors.
This entry was posted in Cats