Have you ever watched your cat gaze longingly out the window and wondered whether they’d be happier outside? 

Cats need a lot of mental stimulation. When they get bored, they can become depressed, aggressive, anxious, or destructive. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to keep your indoor cat happy without letting them go outside on their own. Here’s how to let your cat get the outdoor time they crave without the safety risks that come from letting them roam.

Three Ways to Let Your Indoor Cat Get More Outdoor Time

1: Try Walking Your Cat

It might take a bit of training, but some cats grow to love going for walks. First, you’ll need to find a harness that fits your cat correctly and also has an attachment for a leash. Try walking them around indoors to start out, and let your cat be the guide. Once they get used to wearing the harness, you can try taking them out onto your front porch or into the backyard, and see how they respond. 

Or, if wearing a leash and harness is not your cat’s cup of tea, you can try a cat backpack. It’s like a soft carrying case that gives your cat a safe place to observe the neighborhood. Again, try it out in the house first, to make sure your cat feels secure. Then start with a few short ventures to see if they like riding in the backpack outdoors.

2: Build a “Catio”

You’ve probably seen some pretty impressive catios on Instagram, but they don’t have to be complicated. If you’re handy, you can build a simple catio that surrounds one of your windows or a cat tunnel that connects to a cat door. Your cat will be able to come and go as they please, watch over their territory, and take a nap in the sunshine. 

3: Set Up a Window Perch

As much as they love watching birds, bugs, and squirrels, not all cats want to go outside to do so. If your cat is scared or resistant to a harness and leash, they’ll probably love a window perch. Cats love to perch up high, and if their perch also offers sunshine and free entertainment, all the better. Place a sturdy bookshelf or cabinet under your cat’s favorite window so they can perch to their heart’s content.

Letting Indoor Cats Outside Can Be Dangerous

It’s never safe to let cats roam free outdoors. Cats are small animals, and it’s a big, dangerous world out there. Indoor/outdoor cats tend to live shorter lives, because the risks outdoors are so high. And cats have a tendency to get into trouble…even if they usually land on their feet, there’s a reason why they are rumored to have nine lives. Here are some of the dangers lurking outdoors for cats. 


You might trust your cat to climb trees safely, but do you really want them to risk dodging cars? Because they will. Cats can travel for miles on their tiny little feet. In fact, the average size of a domestic cat’s territory is about 20 city blocks. So if you don’t want your kitty to go dashing across the nearest busy road, keep them inside.


If your cat goes outside, their risk of disease goes way up. They could catch rabies from an infected squirrel, or FIV from a fight with a feral cat. And because not every contagious disease has a vaccine, it’s much safer to keep your cat indoors.


If your cat is anything like ours, they probably sleep on your bed and bathe on your couch. But letting them go outside could mean having to deal with things like fleas or tapeworms. Or worse, your cat could get heartworm, a painful and often deadly disease.


A chance encounter with a wild animal could prove fatal for your cat. Aggressive coyotes have been known to visit Gilbert, Arizona, and they will prey on smaller animals like cats. Eight-legged creatures like spiders and scorpions can be equally dangerous, but your cat doesn’t know this, and will still be tempted to play with them.


When cats that have not been spayed or neutered are allowed to roam, they will mate and produce kittens. Cats can have multiple litters per year, and that means a lot more kittens out there scavenging for food and looking for homes. Male cats that have not been neutered are also more likely to die young, because of the risks they take to find a mate.

How to Keep Your Cat Safe in Arizona

Whether you let them go outdoors or not, all cats need vaccinations. Most vaccinations (like rabies) need boosters, so it’s important for your cat to see a vet at least once a year. And just in case you ever do get separated, a microchip will give you a better chance of being reunited. 

Anasazi Animal Clinic can help you protect your cat and keep them safe and healthy. We’ll advise you on which vaccinations your cat should get, and we can quickly and painlessly give them a microchip ID that’s linked to your name and phone number. To make an appointment, just send us a message or give us a call at 480-497-0505 today.


Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash used with permission under the Creative Commons license for commercial use 10/22/2023.