Why do we acquire pets? Is it for their companionship, their unconditional love, or to make them a member of our families? Consider the definition of a pet:
1. A domesticated animal kept for pleasure or companionship rather than utility
2. An object of the affections
3. A person especially loved or indulged; a favorite
Based on the above definition of a pet, it's all these reasons and so much more! But what about the pet's needs? Are we concerned with or prepared for what it takes to love and protect a defenseless pet? There is no definition for the term "outdoor pet", just as there is no breed describing an "outdoor dog or outdoor cat". A pet as it is defined above, is not meant to live a life of solitude relegated to the outdoors day in and day out! In fact, pets tend to live shorter lives when bound to the outdoors. This is especially true for cats.
A cat that lives his entire life outdoors has a life expectancy of three years or less. Compare that to the cat that lives inside and may live 10 – 14 years or more with good health. Beside constant exposure to the elements, a cat is vulnerable to other dangers as well. Because they are not as easily confined outdoors as a dog is, cats are subject to injury and disease from other animals or abuse from people.
Dogs that are confined outdoors become lonely and bored. A lonely dog can ever become unhappy, unruly, or destructive. This happens because his emotional and physical needs are being neglected. These types of living conditions can make a dog anxious and aggressive. Many of these pets end up being surrendered to Shelters because their behavior becomes intolerable.
Pets that live their lives outdoor require more food than indoor pets. The extra nutrition is needed to protect them from the elements, especially during the cold, winter months. As these pets age, chronic pain can become an issue as age-related conditions such as arthritis, are made even worse by harsh outside conditions and sleeping on hard surfaces.
Our pets need the companionship, love, and attention of their human families to live happy and healthy lives. They are completely dependent on us for all their needs, physical and emotional. Is it mere coincidence that we share some of these same needs and that those needs become the very reasons we seek the companionship of a pet in the first place? Not corresponding to our definition of a pet.