The lives of pet cats and wild cats are very different when it comes to the dangers they face every day and how hard it is for them to find food. While wild cats can manage on their own in nature, it’s a whole different story for a pet cat that has never lived outside before. So, is it possible for a domesticated cat to survive in the wild?
A domesticated cat is unlikely to survive in the wild for a long time without any help. Cats that haven’t been outside don’t have the skills they need to survive on their own in the wild.
The likelihood of a cat being able to survive in the wild decreases even more if the cat has never spent any time outside. Keep reading to find out how long cats can survive outdoors.
How Long Can Indoor Cats Survive Outside
Although there is no exact timeframe for how long a cat that usually stays indoors can survive in the wild, its lifespan would probably be much shorter. A cat that has never experienced the outdoors will lack the skills to protect itself, find food, and endure harsh weather conditions.
When a domesticated cat ventures outside, its first challenge is encountering other animals. Typically, indoor cats have only interacted with other domesticated cats or dogs.
Outdoors, there are various species that can pose a danger to a cat, including hawks, snakes, raccoons, foxes, and even larger animals like bobcats and cougars. These animals not only carry diseases that are unfamiliar to cats, but they are also more aggressive predators than what cats are accustomed to encountering.
A domesticated cat’s main protection against a wild animal is its claws and instinct to fight. Although a cat might initially hold its own against a predator of the same size, it would probably encounter a more dangerous animal that would pose a greater threat to it.
A domesticated cat that has been attacked in the wild doesn’t have any means to get assistance or medical treatment. It’s quite simple for a wound to get infected or for a cat to get injured to the extent that they can’t hunt for food on their own anymore.
If your cat is declawed and ends up living in the wild, the situation becomes even more challenging. A declawed indoor cat is essentially defenseless when outside the house. A cat that has been declawed has a minimal chance of surviving in the long term outdoors because a cat’s claws are extremely valuable to them in their natural habitat.
Can Domestic Cats Survive On Their Own
Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that a pet cat can survive on its own for a long time. Although cats have some natural instincts that can help them in the wild, a domesticated cat isn’t equipped for life in nature.
A major challenge for a cat living in the wild is finding a dependable source of food. Contrary to popular belief, cats are not naturally skilled hunters from birth.
Although cats have certain instincts, they usually require guidance from their mother or another cat to learn how to hunt or find a consistent food supply. If a domestic cat is left to fend for itself, it is unlikely to live for a long time unless it is adopted by someone else or finds a new home.
Can Cats Survive In The Forest
A domestic cat is highly unlikely to find itself residing in a forest setting, but if it did, it would face significant challenges in order to stay alive.
If a pet cat gets lost or is left behind by its owner, it usually doesn’t have experience living in the wild. So, instead of going to a forest, the cat will look for a place that it knows well.
Most cats prefer to live in suburban areas because they are more familiar with that environment. Cats are also unlikely to venture far from home and are even less likely to explore the forest on their own.
Cats in the wild face more danger from large predators compared to cats in suburban areas, and cats are clever enough to understand this. Additionally, forests don’t offer many suitable hiding spots for cats, so they are unlikely to sleep in the open.
Can Cats Survive Outside In The Heat
Cats can manage to stay outdoors in hot weather, but not for a long time. Although it differs based on the type of cat, cats generally don’t do well in extremely hot environments.
When a cat is in a really hot situation, it will try its best to save energy. It does this by being as still as possible and taking long breaks to prevent its body temperature from getting too high.
In addition, cats will try to stay out of the sun and find cool, shady spots in their surroundings. The most important factor for a cat trying to survive outdoors in hot weather is whether it can find water.
Cats need a large amount of water to stay hydrated in extremely hot weather.
On an extremely hot day, a cat will become even more thirsty than usual and require a greater amount of water. This can be challenging for a cat living outdoors independently, as it may struggle to find enough water, leading to severe dehydration and potentially fatal consequences.
Can Cats Survive In The Cold
Cats can endure cold weather as long as they have a cozy and safe spot to take shelter. The colder it gets, the more risky it becomes for a cat attempting to survive in low temperatures. When the temperature drops below freezing, it poses a danger for a cat to be outdoors.
If you spot a homeless cat outdoors in extremely cold weather, make sure to bring them indoors and provide them with protection from the harsh conditions. Stray cats are usually good at keeping themselves warm in the cold, but a pet cat will be much safer and more comfortable if kept in a sheltered area indoors.
If a cat is left outdoors, it is in danger of developing hypothermia. When the temperature drops below zero, a cat’s ears and paws are particularly vulnerable. If a cat is exposed to the cold for too long, it can develop frostbite on these body parts, which may require amputation.
How Do Abandoned Cats Survive
When a cat is left alone, it is unlikely to survive for a long time outside. When a cat is first abandoned, they feel extremely upset and scared.
Usually, a cat gets really confused when they realize they’re not in their familiar home and they use up a lot of their energy and power trying to go back.
Not only do abandoned cats feel lost and confused, but they also have a hard time finding food and a safe place to stay. When a cat is left behind, especially in the first few weeks, it will have a tough time staying alive without a steady supply of food and being at risk of encountering dangerous animals.
If a cat is left alone, their best bet for staying alive is to find a new home on a farm or in a place where they can hunt mice and other small animals.
If you’re thinking about abandoning a cat, it’s better to take them to an animal shelter. Cats that are used to living indoors aren’t meant to survive in the wild.
Things To Consider
It’s rare for a pet cat to do well in the wild. The outside world is full of dangers like other wild animals, diseases, and a scarcity of food. If you want your cat to live a long life, it’s best to keep them indoors where they’re safe and comfortable.
A domesticated cat that stays indoors usually lives for about fifteen to seventeen years, but if a cat spends time outside, it may have a slightly shorter lifespan. However, if a cat lives its entire life outdoors, its lifespan is significantly reduced.
To ensure your cat stays healthy and has a good life, it’s best to keep them safe and comfortable inside your home where the temperature is controlled.