Cats are delightful little creatures – they’re equal parts cute and fierce. If you love cats but don’t have space for one inside your house (or are mildly allergic but still want one around), some cats thrive when they’re outdoors all the time!
They make great pets, barn cats, and pest control without making your house any messier.
11 Best Outdoor Cat Breeds
Some cat breeds are meant for a comfortable life – couches, gourmet food, and litter boxes. It’s important to not let domesticated cats into the wild – they might not survive!
However, there are many cats with sharper instincts who thrive in the comparative wild of the outdoors.
Many outside cats are completely feral and don’t mix well with humans. A majority of stray cats and cats you’ll see are some mixed breed, but generally, all of them come from the same few breeds of cats.
Less domesticated cats can be aggressive in trying to protect themselves, so be careful!
However, there are plenty of cats that are friendly to people and love the independence of the outdoors. You can adopt or buy cats raised to be outdoors.
These breeds are cats who hunt, are made to survive in winter, and love the freedom of roaming outside.
Maine Coons are the classic outdoor cat – they are large (up to thirty pounds!), strong, and have a lot of long fur. These cats are great for living outdoors because of their active lifestyle and size.
They will be able to protect themselves against predators and keep themselves well fed by hunting.
Bobtail cats are easily recognizable – their signature short tail makes them stand out from the crowd.
These cats belong outside and are known for escaping crates and enclosures to find some fresh air and freedom!
Although they’re fiercely independent, American Bobtails are also friendly towards humans and loyal to their owners.
If you want a cat to help get rid of mice or other rodents, the European Shorthair is an ideal breed for you. These cats are strong and energetic and love to hunt.
They are also loyal and will stay relatively close to their owners’ property while searching for prey.
A Bengal cat is an incredibly unique cat breed, descended from domesticated shorthair breeds and wild leopards.
They’re friendly and love humans, but they also love hunting and exploring.
Because of their wild roots, Bengals need lots of independence and regular exercise. The outdoors is the perfect environment to raise a Bengal.
Norwegian Forest cats are another breed of big cats. As you might have imagined, they originated in Norway and are some of the hardiest cats for the winter cold.
They are also excellent hunters and make great barn cats.
Norwegian Forests are friendly but active and independent, so they love living outdoors.
Siamese cats are curious and active and love being outdoors for this reason. They are good hunters and love the stimulation of the natural world.
Siamese cats are also great indoor cats (and are usually kept inside because of their breeding).
A Siamese would make a great indoor/outdoor cat.
If you have an Abyssinian cat, you have a brilliant and friendly pet! While they love being outdoors and hunting, Abyssinians are also some of the most trainable cat breeds.
They are medium-sized cats with above-average agility and intelligence. You can teach them tricks or leave them to hunt and climb trees!
Burmese cats are close cousins to the Siamese cat and make good outdoor cats for many reasons. Burmese are amiable cats, so they are more likely to approach humans and other cats.
Keep Burmese cats outside for sure – they have high energy and thrive in an outdoor environment but might tear up indoor furniture.
Siberian cats are one of the oldest breeds on this list. They’ve been around for thousands of years and have only grown in strength and agility. Siberians are large and powerful cats who value independence.
They thrive outdoors – trapping a Siberian inside a house would spell disaster for everyone involved!
A Cymric cat has long hair but is otherwise identical to their sister-breed, the Manx.
They have short tails like the Manx. Cymrics are friendly and intelligent and love to have a strong bond with their owners.
They are alert and fierce hunters, excellent for outdoor rodent hunting and vole or mouse removal.
The York Chocolate is a relatively new breed of cat, accepted in the United States in 1990. They originated on a goat farm in New York and are bred to be independent and love the outdoors.
These cats are friendly but generally on their terms – not to be interrupted while they’re hunting or prowling!
Of course, even outdoor cats need love and care throughout the year, especially if they’re your pet! If you’ve seen stray or feral cats wandering around outside, you might wonder how they manage to survive the cold.
Even pet cats who have fully adapted to their outdoor roots need some basic things to survive.
Can Pet Cats Live Outside?
While all of the breeds listed above thrive in outdoor environments, there are some exceptions to letting cats live outside full time.
Hairless breeds are bred to be indoor cats and don’t have fur to protect them from the elements.
All cats who have grown up inside a house will most likely struggle if they are forced to live outside.
If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, they might be able to transition to full-time outdoor life.
However, make sure they always have a way back in the house or an appropriate shelter.
Domesticated cats might take a while to adjust to a feral cat life, and they must stay safe.
How Do Outside Cats Stay Warm in the Winter?
Outside cats are surprisingly self-sufficient when it comes to survival. They have grown accustomed to the seasons and can hunt for prey and fit into small spaces to keep from getting too cold.
However, there are ways you can help outside cats – whether yours or strays – to stay warm and well-fed in the cold.
You can help cats stay warm throughout the winter months by providing a safe shelter with warming materials (like straw) and a food supply.
The shelter should be small enough to keep the cat’s body warm and not evaporate its body heat.
It’s helpful to put in heated water and food bowls so the supplies won’t freeze.
Should Outside Cats Have Their Claws?
Declawing a cat is one of the most unhealthy things you can do to your cat, except in specific instances (such as nail bed cancer or another preventable disease).
Indoor and outdoor cats without claws can’t balance well, protect themselves, or hunt properly.
Claws are especially vital for cats who live outdoors. If a declawed cat gets sent outside, it has no way of protecting himself from other animals or hunting for his food.
Declawed cats also tend to have chronic pain, higher levels of aggression, and lower emotional health.
You don’t even have to trim the claws on an outdoor cat – they need them for living well outside!
Any outdoor cat should have access to shelter, food, and water, especially in the cold months. Whether they are a Maine Coon or a Burmese, your cat will do well outside with your support and car.
A well-adjusted cat can thrive outside, and many breeds are meant to live in the great outdoors!