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Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cats

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This research paper is about indoor cats and outdoor cats and their vast differences. From social behavior to life expectancy, these two types of cats are extremely different and through first hand observation of my indoor cats to outdoor street cats, I have written this report.


Many people assume that cats are all alike, however, this is far from the truth. Throughout this paper I will distinguish the differences between both types of cats by observing and recording their behavior as well as providing charts and tables. I hypothesize that indoor cats have the advantage over their counterpart the outdoor cats in every comparable category I will discuss in this paper.


For this paper, I observed and recorded my indoor cat and a random outdoor cat on the streets. I took pictures and recorded their different types of reaction and behaviors.


After completing my observation and recording of these two types of cats, I found that my hypothesis was correct. Indoor cats have the advantage of having a longer lifespan, socially calm, and more well nutritioned than the outdoor cat.


The results in this paper can vary from different cats to use, but the variation will be slight. I expect anyone who observes and records indoor cats and outdoor cats to receive similar results such as me. I have been a cat owner for several years and for me to complete this research paper was worthwhile. In regards to advancement of this work, I believe repetition of this same sort of experiment will help further solidify the indoor cat vs. outdoor cat issue.

Valentina Sarria

BIO 210

Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cats

Animal behavior is a critical part of our world and one which is often overlooked. From the Sub-Saharan deserts of Africa to the jungles of the Amazon, thousands of different animals co-exist among themselves, each with their own unique behaviors. In this experiment I will compare the behavior of domesticated cats versus outdoor cats. Many people believe all cats are the same no matter indoor or outdoor, however; there are great differences between the two which need to be discussed. After years of experience in observing and owning both indoor cats and outdoor cats I believe indoor cats are more advantageous and adaptable in any environment they are placed in compared to outdoor cats. From body language to socialization, I will discuss the unique differences that exist between outdoor cats and indoor cats. Issues such as life expectancy, nutrition, behavior, and environmental factors will all be addressed in order to show the vast differences that exist between the two cats. Through the use of the scientific method I will hypothesize, observe, and report my findings throughout this paper.

In order to address the issue at hand, we need to distinctly categorize what is defined as an indoor cat and an outdoor cat. An indoor cat is defined as a “domestic cat kept as an indoor pet”[1]. On the other hand, we have an outdoor cat which is also referred to as a feral cat which is a cat who has gone back to a wild state of being and chooses to live in the outdoors[2]. At first, many individuals may think there are only subtle differences between the two types of cats, however; this is incorrect.

Before beginning my research paper, I would like to state my hypothesis in regards to the experiment. Since I have been a cat owner and caretaker for several years, I already have an educated guess on how both types of cats are going to be like in regards to their life expectancy, environment, and nutrition. I hypothesize that indoor cats will have the advantage over outdoor cats in every category mainly because they are properly sheltered and taken care of.

One of the most vital aspects of any credible research paper is the methods and materials section. In this particular paper, I am comparing and contrasting indoor cats to outdoor cats. For a paper such as this, there was a lot more observing rather than materials. In order to record and report a credible firsthand observation of the two different cats I went home to Vero Beach, Florida. Going back home provided me with the opportunity to utilize my household cat as the indoor cat while I used random stray cats outside as the outdoor cats. Besides my observation, I took a few pictures as well of the two different cats just to differentiate how they look in appearance. Furthermore, I will include and table and graph displaying cat years in terms of human years as well as showing how outdoor cats age quicker than indoor cats. My observations of these two types of cats in their respective environments help support my claims in this research paper.

Socialization among species of any kind is an important aspect of life and one which affects their daily habits. Among indoor cats, socialization is often limited to the confines of an individual’s house where there is often very little interaction with other animals. As an avid owner of indoor cats throughout the years, I have learned through observation that they tend to shy away from humans whom they are unfamiliar with. These cats usually keep to themselves unless they are comfortable enough to be around their owners who take care of their needs. Interestingly enough, they also try to socialize with outdoor cats and attempt to bond; however in most cases the outdoor cats are non-compliant. In addition they are non-hostile towards other household pets and are only aggressive when they sense some sort of danger towards them or their owners.

In contrast, outdoor cats or feral cats are the complete opposite of their indoor counterparts. Outdoor cats are not domesticated which results in their aggressive social behavior. These cats are often abandoned or lost and learn how to live in a nomadic type of lifestyle. Furthermore, the amount of daily interaction an outdoor cat has with humans plays a role in determining the level of approachableness[3]. The more time a cat is surrounded around humans, the more comfortable they will be and less aggressive. It should be noted that not every cat is the same and their behavior can alter in accordance to their surrounding environment but the results that I have discussed so far are through observation of cats that I am raising. Below is a picture of my indoor cat and I together. As you can see, the cat is extremely calm and gentle towards me since it recognizes me.

My cat and I

Another important aspect of any specie’s life is their nutrition. Daily nutrition intake can have a profound impact on an animal’s life such as their life expectancy and social behavior. Typically, indoor cats have a stable regimen of food which consists of cat food from the pet store or supermarket. Although cats in general eat anything given to them, it is ideal that their diet is consistent of food that is easily digestible and not harmful. From personal observation and experience, I’ve raised indoor cats by feeding them the recommended cat food that is sold in pet stores. On occasion, they will eat human food if given to them but it is best if that can be avoided since their digestive system is different than ours. In contrast we have outdoor cats or “feral cats” which almost eat anything that they can find since they live a nomadic lifestyle and food is often scarce.

They will eat anything from typical cat food from the pet store all the way to vermin and any other source of food they find in the outdoors. A diet such as this can be detrimental to an outdoor cat’s health as well as affect their social behavior. Outdoor cats eat food that is available to them, and often times this food comes from rummaging through garbage or finding whatever they can eat in alleyways and streets such as vermin. Just like with any animal or human being, the poorer the quality of food you eat the worse it is nutritionally for one’s body. With that being said, indoor cats such as the ones I own and observed are well nutritioned and may even seem overweight when compared to outdoor cats. An example of this can be seen in the pictures displayed below:

Indoor Cat Outdoor Cat

Furthermore, nutrition intake and diet can even have cause changes in a cat’s hostility. Cats that are usually fed on a regular basis such as indoor cats are well behaved and non-aggressive whereas outdoor cats are the complete opposite. Since outdoor cats do not have a regular source of food, they can be hostile at times. This sort of behavior can be compared to humans as well, when we do not eat for a prolonged period of time, our mood and behavior tend to decline.

In addition, I would like to discuss the issue of life expectancy and how it varies between an indoor cat and outdoor cat. A cats aging process is much more rapid in comparison to humans. Cats typically age seven years (in human years) for each calendar year[4]. However, the aging process is much quicker for outdoor cats than indoor cats mostly due to their environment, nutrition, and health issues. Indoor cats have the benefit of being sheltered and nurtured by their owners which results in their lengthy lifespan of typically twelve to fourteen years. According to an article in Animal Planet “An indoor cat’s world is a safe, cozy haven, with tasty meals dished up on time, and protection from the changeable weather”[5]. In contrast to this, we have outdoor cats whose life expectancy is extremely short at an average of two to five years. The very same article in Animal Planet states “By contrast, an outdoor feline, whether a lifelong feral or one who’s been dumped by a former owner, experiences daily stress.

Her survival instincts keep her alert as she eludes dogs, unkind humans and traffic every day. No wonder an outdoor cat’s life span sounds like a prison sentence: two to five years”[6]. As we can see from the article, there is a huge discrepancy in life expectancy between the two types of cats. The indoor cat’s have the protection and support of their owners while the outdoor cat has to fend for itself which explains their very short life expectancy. In my personal experience and observation I have noticed similar occurrences. Cats that I currently own are already eight to nine years old and that’s because they have been taken care of in regards to nutrition and veterinary care. Furthermore, in order to support my position, I have provided a graph that displays the discrepancy of life spans between an indoor cat and outdoor cat[7]. As the Table B displays, outdoor cats age at twice the rate than an average indoor cat. Table A is a chart that that compares a cat’s age to a human’s age and can help one understand the quick aging process in cats.

Table A
Table B

The intrigue of knowing and explaining the many differences between outdoor cats and indoor cats has led me to write this paper in a research format. After extensive observation and research through books and online sources, I have found results that support my hypothesis. Results from this research paper consist of many things. I have found out that indoor cats live extensively longer than outdoor cars primarily due to the differences in shelter, nurture, and food intake. In addition, both types of cats are able to interact with one another without any hostilities. Furthermore, outdoor cats are unhealthy and are more likely to carry some sort of a disease since they are living in the outdoors. Outdoor cats will practically eat anything they find since they have limited options in what they can eat.

In contrast indoor cats are treated well by their owners and often eat nutritious meals leading them to live disease free and long healthy lives. The tables I have provided throughout this report show the discrepancy in years in life expectancy between indoor cats and outdoor cats as well as the quicker aging process in outdoor cats compared to indoor cats. Although the results of this research paper may vary with different cats and owners, I believe I have provided a fair assessment of what to expect when comparing indoor cats and outdoor cats.

Throughout this report I have addressed key components of any research paper such as my hypothesis, methods and materials, observation of the two different cats as well as charts, tables and pictures to support my position. Now it is time for the discussion section which will address how my results integrated with background information as well as any advancement that can be made in this topic. The results that came about in this project were similar to my hypothesis which heavily relied on background information I had on indoor cats and outdoor cats. Since I’ve owned cats for several years, I had e thorough background on all sorts of information before even writing this paper. I believe by actually observing and recording what I saw is another way of supporting and solidifying my personal knowledge into an actual research paper. In regards to advancements that can be made in this field, I can only suggest that more people observe and record the behaviors of both types of cats just so they can perhaps pickup on some stuff that my paper may have missed. The only way to keep learning and adding onto a certain field of work is through repetition of the experiment and recording everything.

My cat enjoying a nice glass of wine

Works Cited

M. Boorer, Wild Cats (1970); C. Necker, The Natural History of Cats (1970);
G. N. Henderson and D. J. Coffey, ed., The International Encyclopedia of Cats (1973); R. Caras, ed., Harper’s Illustrated Handbook of Cats (1985); D. Turner and P. Bateson, ed., The Domestic Cat (1988). Neighborhoodcats.org. What Is a Feral Cat?. . Retrieved May 1, 2013, from http://://www.neighborhoodcats.org/HOW_TO_WHAT_IS_FERAL_CAT

“How to Calculate A Cat’s Age in Cat Years.” Catster. N.p.. Web. 7 May 2013. .

Blumenstock, Kathy. “How long do cats live?.” Animal Planet. N.p.. Web. 6 Mar 2013. .

Blumenstock, Kathy. “How long do cats live?.” Animal Planet. N.p.. Web. 6 Mar 2013. .

“How to Calculate A Cat’s Age in Cat Years.” Catster. N.p.. Web. 7 May 2013. .

Pam , J. (2011). Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat–Not a Sour Puss. Penguin Books .

[1]See M. Boorer, Wild Cats (1970); C. Necker, The Natural History of Cats (1970); G. N. Henderson and D. J. Coffey, ed., The International Encyclopedia of Cats (1973); R. Caras, ed., Harper’s Illustrated Handbook of Cats (1985); D. Turner and P. Bateson, ed., The Domestic Cat (1988).

[2]Neighborhoodcats.org. What Is a Feral Cat?. . Retrieved May 1, 2013, from http://://www.neighborhoodcats.org/HOW_TO_WHAT_IS_FERAL_CAT [3] Pam , J. (2011). Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat–Not a Sour Puss. Penguin Books . [4] “How to Calculate A Cat’s Age in Cat Years.” Catster. N.p.. Web. 7 May 2013. . [5] Blumenstock, Kathy. “How long do cats live?.” Animal Planet. N.p.. Web. 6 Mar 2013. . [6] Blumenstock, Kathy. “How long do cats live?.” Animal Planet. N.p.. Web. 6 Mar 2013. . [7] “How to Calculate A Cat’s Age in Cat Years.” Catster. N.p.. Web. 7 May 2013. .

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