Cats should be indoors only, or supervised outdoors
You are right to be concerned about letting your cat outside unsupervised. Keeping your cats indoors protects against MANY problems that can make your cat sick or die! According to the American Humane Society, cats who are either part-time or full-time allowed to roam outdoors alone face the following risks:
- Disease (feline leukemia (FeLV), feline AIDS (FIV),FIP (feline
infectious peritonitis), feline distemper (panleukopenia), upper
respiratory infections (or URI))
- Parasites (fleas, ticks, ear mites, intestinal worms, ringworm (a fungal infection))
- Car strikes
- Animal cruelty (neighborhood children)
- Injury from other animals (both wild and domestic)
- Toxins and poisions (in addition to rodenticide, antifreeze is sweet and delicious, but deadly!)
- Trees (if a cat can't/won't climb down, he'll get dehydrated and weak, eventually falling)
In addition, a study highlighted by the National Wildlife Federation found
- By some estimates, outdoor cats in the United States kill more than 1 million birds every day on average. Other studies suggest the
death toll is as high as 1 billion per year.
- Outdoor cats transmit rabies, toxoplasmosis, typhus, plague and other viral and parasitic diseases to both wildlife and humans.
Cats can be Content Indoors with Enough Stimulation
Your cat does not have to be physically chasing prey to be mentally stimulated by it. The Anti-Cruelty Society states:
Even if the cat isn't chasing, jumping or otherwise very physically
engaged the mental part of play is beneficial.
Your cat is stimulated by watching out the window. One way to encourage this engagement is to add birdfeeders to your yard, as Joanne McGonagle of the Tiniest Tiger did.
It's important to understand that just because your cat is fascinated by what's going on outside the window, he may not actually want to go outside. All of my cats LOVE watching birds and squirrels through our windows, but when we put a harness on Hunter and took him outside (in our own yard that he sees every day) he absolutely hated it and wanted to go back inside immediately.
If you still want to take your cat outdoors, there are methods outlined in How to let an indoor cat have some outdoor time safely?