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Most pets simply love to go outside as it provides an escape for them to be free to roam and explore new territory. Not so with cats, cats are very private and routine orientated, they like their own territory and most of them don’t necessarily enjoy exploring new places.
The outdoors is quite the opposite of what they prefer. It’s noisy, random, and full of interaction and unpleasant encounters. While some cats may be used to going outside, most simply dread the outside experience.
That’s why it’s important to study the nature of cats in order to understand them and their sense of well-being. A recent study at the Ohio State University concluded that stress causes illness in felines. The study proved that with even moderate stress cats’ well-being was affected.
These stressors were anything from loud noise, a dirty litter box, changes in the environment, or unwanted attention. These minor changes to their routine significantly affected their emotional and physical well-being.
When the cats were exposed to these stressors they would vomit, urinate, and defecate outside the litterbox. They also picked up that the cats ate less and were overall not in a good state.
This clearly shows how routine-orientated felines are, that they don’t like anything new or different. Note, if your cat doesn’t want to go outside, respect their wishes. What may seem like a simple walk outside to you may seem terrifying to these tiny creatures.
The outdoors are filled with all sorts of noises and interactions. The sounds of cars passing, barking dogs, music, etc. Cats are very fearful and they do get scared of sudden noises. It’s something they aren’t used to since they are very comfortable within the confinement of their home.
To Them, the noise is associated with danger and fear, so they become defensive, and fearful and can run away to seek a safe place to hide. Such felines should be kept indoors until they have been trained and gained enough confidence to go outside.
Thunderstorms and fireworks are other examples of sudden noises that can cause stress and fear. Cats are different from humans and they process abrupt sounds differently than us. According to Dr. Bruce Kornreich, associate director of the Cornell Feline Health Center at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
He stated that while humans also get startled by sounds, we can easily figure out that the noise won’t harm us, unlike cats. Cats may also equate loud noises with negative experiences. They process it as a possible threat in which they seek refuge.
Cats hate unfamiliarity and anything new, they are very routine orientated and they love the same schedule every day. For them to go outside requires a lot since they have to overcome the fear of the unknown as well as be prepared for any sudden encounters.
Even though cats are animals however through the years of being domesticated they have adjusted to the indoor lifestyle. So much that enquiring or experiencing their original territory seems uncommon.
To them, it’s better to be indoors and comfortable in their home than to be exposed to a new environment that comes with its own challenges. Since the outdoors are not controlled and there are a lot of things that can provoke fear.
3. Bad Encounters.
A bad outdoor experience could really scare your cat by giving them a bad impression of being outside. Cats can be put off by a foreign smell, or even the sight of something. An encounter with an aggressive dog or other pets, the loudness of a car horn, or even the immense interaction could be too much for them to handle.
Such encounters can be the reason why your cat doesn’t approve of going outside. If the cat previously used to enjoy going outside and now suddenly stopped then it’s appropriate for them to feel this way if they have been exposed to something they don’t like.
In this case, you want to give the cat some space while rebuilding its confidence before you can expose them to going outside again.
4. Breed Related.
You may be wondering why your cat is so inactive and just completely lack interest in playing or even venturing the outdoors. This could be breed specific since some feline breeds are quite passive with a low activity level.
Breeds like the Persian, Himalayan, Selkirk rex, exotic, shorthair, Maine coon, etc. are often known as ‘Lazy Cats’ or inactive cats. These breeds are naturally less active, submissive, and lethargic. Their sluggish movements make it difficult for them to initiate or encourage playtime.
Going outside may not be something they are up for, as they like to remain idle in the comfort of their homes.
5. They Hate To Wear A Leash.
Normally cat parents leash their cats before leaving home. Sometimes you may feel as if your cat doesn’t want to go outside but the problem may be the leash, which is understandable since many cats don’t like wearing leashes. It takes time to acclimate a cat to wearing a leash and even when they are used to it, chances are that they will still not like it.
Some leashes may be too tight while others may be rigid and not ideally comfortable, getting the right leash is very important. You also want to get a harness that fits around the cat’s body instead of tugging around its neck, since the cat could feel restricted.
So the next time you head out, try a different approach maybe use a carrier or a backpack instead of a leash. This will help you identify if the leash is really the problem or if the cat just doesn’t want to go outside.
6. Indoor Cats Are Quite Content.
Cats associate their own home with safety and protection, while the outdoors is the complete opposite. It’s understandable why they will choose safety instead of being exposed to an environment that causes them stress. When a cat’s territory fulfills all its needs, it doesn’t need to enquire more territory.
Most indoor cats have their needs met. They have enough food, clean water, entertainment, companionship as well as nice views to watch birds fly. They are satisfied and won’t need to look for what they are lacking. Therefore their interest in the outdoors is minimal to none.
7. Cats Health.
If you notice a change in your cat’s interest and overall activity level then it’s a good idea to have them checked out, to rule out any underlying health issues. Diabetes is very common in cats and one of the main symptoms is lethargy, loss of interest, and weight loss. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, urination, and increased thirst.
Lack of energy will result in the cat refusing to participate in play and any other activities. If your cat is displaying such behavior consult with your local vet immediately for a full examination.
8. Rescue Cats.
Rescue cats normally don’t prefer outside since they associate the outdoors with their past. These rescue cats generally go through tough times fending for themselves before being rescued. This gruesome experience stays with them even after they are adopted.
Going from foraging for food and trying to avoid cars, wildlife, and nasty people to a luxurious lifestyle inside, it doesn’t make the decision to stay indoors that difficult. Being spoiled with toys, cat trees, treats and someone to worship you probably doesn’t hurt either.
For this reason, they will refrain from the outdoors until they are confident enough to move past the fear of going out.
9. Unsafe Vs Safe Areas.
Cats are highly sensitive to their environment and local surroundings. Their territorial instincts and sensory capabilities make them well-informed and adaptable to any surroundings. This makes them distinguish between areas that are safe and unsafe
This could be the reason why they don’t like leaving their homes to go outside. They are comfortable and safe in their little territory which is controlled and free from predators. While the outdoors seem like the complete opposite with uncontrollable events.
Ultimately, it’s merely their preference not to go outside. Whether for their safety or to hide away in a little corner where no one can find them.
10. Feline Depression.
Feline depression is a real thing that affects most indoor cats. Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Feline mental health problems are difficult to diagnose since it’s not very common, however, their effects are very visible.
This could possibly be the reason for your cat’s disinterest in going outside. Symptoms of depression in felines include; decreased appetite, low energy levels, less interaction, changes in body language, retreating from humans, litterbox inconsistency, and lack of interest in going outside
Depression can be caused by changes in the environment, the loss of a family member, health conditions, the addition of a new pet, or changes in the owner’s schedule.
It’s important to seek medical help immediately for proper treatment and recovery.