Even if they’ve spent their whole life indoors, some cats just want to be outside instead. All the wildlife and other sights and smells are enticing curiosities for your cat to explore. Unfortunately, letting your cat outside, especially if they’re used to life indoors, can be dangerous due to cars, wild animals, dogs, and even people.

If your indoor cat is suddenly darting for the door whenever it’s open, they might be bored. Take a look at this list of reasons that your cat wants to go outside and the steps to take to keep them happy indoors.

The 6 Reasons Why Does Your Cat Want to Go Outside

1. Curiosity

bengal cat looking curious in the shower
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Cats are naturally curious, and they can only explore your home so many times before they know about every nook and cranny. The outside world provides them with more entertainment than the dust bunnies under the bed. It also changes more often. There are different smells and wildlife to encounter every day, which help keep your cat’s mind active.

If your cat has never been outside, they might be curious about the world on the other side of the window. Or maybe they saw or smelled something interesting when you opened the door, and now they want to explore.

Providing plenty of activities for your indoor cat will help them enjoy their time inside. They’ll always have something to do and will be less likely to look for entertainment elsewhere.

2. Fresh Air

Everyone benefits from fresh air, especially on days when the weather is calm but humid and the still air in the house is unpleasantly sticky. Cats might not complain about the sticky heat as much as we do, but they are adept at seeking out the most comfortable spot to nap in. If the still air in your home is disturbing their comfort or they’re just tired of breathing the same stuffy air every day, a breath of fresh air can be a welcome change.

You can give your cat a break by training them to walk on a leash or building them a catio. Both of these options take a bit of work, but they give your cat a chance to enjoy the outdoors safely.

3. Hunting Instincts

cat curious on the turtle
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Cute and cuddly they might be, it’s important to remember that cats are predators before being pets. They’re excellent hunters and are built to hunt and take down prey as efficiently as possible.

If they’re stuck indoors, there isn’t much for your cat to practice their hunting on except their stuffed toys. Unless you have a mouse nest in your kitchen, your cat is unlikely to find a real target for their hunting instinct. Without enough interesting toys to play with, the birds outside become even more tantalizing.

Give your cat plenty of toys that they can chase. Jingle balls can be fun for them to play with on their own, along with battery-operated toys, but you shouldn’t skip out on toys that enable you to join in the fun too.

4. Need for Space

Being stuck within the same four walls can get stifling, especially if you have children or other pets that never leave your cat alone. Cats like to be social, but they also have a limit to how much pestering they can stand.

If they have nowhere they can hide so they can be alone for a while, your cat will find the outdoors more appealing for some peace and quiet.

Make sure to give your cat plenty of hiding spots to dart to if they feel overwhelmed. Keeping them out of reach of children and dogs can help too.

5. Socializing

close up of a curios cat tilting its head
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Although cats can be aloof, they also enjoy attention. They might not make friends with everyone they see, but your outdoor cat is bound to have a few friends in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, if they’re indoors, they won’t be able to meet their outdoor friends to socialize.

Your cat might also want to go outside to meet their neighborhood friends if they feel that they’re not getting enough attention at home. If you’ve been rushed off your feet all day and haven’t had a chance to sit down for your routine cat cuddles, your cat might feel forgotten or lonely.

Take care to spend time pampering them whenever you get the chance. If you have several pets, spending one-on-one time with each of them will help strengthen your bonds.

6. Sunshine

If there’s one thing that your cat adores, it’s finding a warm, sunny patch to sunbathe in. Relaxing in the sun is akin to being wrapped in a warm, fuzzy blanket.

But sometimes, a window seat just doesn’t offer enough time for them to bask in the sun’s rays. Compared to one part of the garden fence or the roof of your car, the window might not get enough sunshine for long enough or at the right time of day.

This is one of the benefits of catios. Placed in the right spot, a catio will let your cat bask in the sun for as long as they want without having to worry about the dangers outside.

Should I Let My Cat Outside?

There are arguments for and against letting your cat go outside. Exploring the outdoors lets your cat move around more as they investigate new smells and sights and make new friends. With so much space to move around in, outdoor cats are usually less likely to suffer from obesity. Their destructive habits will also be focused on objects outside your home instead of your furniture.

Unfortunately, there are many arguments against letting cats roam outside too. These drawbacks include a much shorter average lifespan due to their greater risk of getting into an accident. Outside, your cat can encounter cars, strangers, and — depending on where you live — predators that will hurt or kill them. They’re also more likely to bring home fleas and ticks or prey on local wildlife.

Whether you let your cat roam around outdoors or not is up to you. Some cat owners don’t let their cats out at all, while others only let them out during the day. Whatever you decide, stay consistent and take steps to keep your outdoor cat safe from getting lost, like microchipping them.

a savannah cat standing outside on a backyard deck
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How to Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy

One of the arguments against keeping your cat indoors is the belief that they’ll be bored. They were, after all, once wild animals and their old instincts aren’t easy to squash. Being outdoors is just part of who your cat is.

However, being an indoor cat doesn’t mean they’re doomed to boredom. If you take steps to ensure your cat’s comfort, there’s no reason that they won’t be happy staying curled up inside the house.

Create a Catio

When all is said and done, sometimes a brief reprieve from the same four walls can be appreciated. If you recently turned your outdoor cat into a house cat, building a catio is a good way to let them continue enjoying the outdoors safely.

Catios can be any size that you want or have space for. While some of the more extravagant catios are decked out with cat trees and all sorts of activities, a less expensive option is a simple box fixed to a window. Whichever option you choose, a catio enables your cat to get fresh air and peace.

Mekong Bobtail Cat Outside
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Give Them Their Own Space

Cats are the world’s most adorable introverts. They might enjoy spending time with their extroverted family members, but there comes a point when they have to recharge.

Unfortunately, many households don’t have many places for a cat to run to if they feel overwhelmed. Anywhere close to the ground can quickly get invaded by playful children or a curious canine. Worst still, the top of the fridge or the kitchen cabinets are often off-limits.

Give your cat a spot they can go to when they feel overwhelmed. This can be a high perch on a cat tree or a cat condo they can hide in, somewhere children or the dog can’t reach.

Provide Activities

Boredom is often the reason that cats act out. If they’re frustrated about having nothing to do and don’t have enough to keep their minds active, they’re more likely to wreak havoc around the house. While it can be amusing when they have a case of the zoomies, it can lead to destructive habits, like scratching your new couch.

Without regular adventures outdoors, your indoor cat needs a way to entertain themselves. Toys, puzzles, scratching posts, and cat trees all provide your cat with plenty of things to do while they’re stuck indoors. Placing a cat tree beside a window overlooking the yard is a good way to distract your cat with a view too.

two cats fighting outside
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Spay or Neuter Them

Compared to spayed or neutered cats, intact felines are much more likely to want to go outside, especially if they smell or are a female in heat. Spaying and neutering not only prevent unwanted pet pregnancies, but the procedure also reduces hormone-driven behavior, like searching for a mate.

Final Thoughts

Cats want to go outside for various reasons. Perhaps they want to bask in the sun and hunt a few wild critters, or maybe they don’t have enough to entertain them at home.

Providing your indoor cat with plenty of attention, places to hide, and activities to keep their minds active will help them feel happy indoors. With more to do at home, they’ll be less likely to want to risk their safety in the outside world.

Featured Image Credit: Heide Pinkall, Shutterstock