1. Home

Discuss in my forum

A reader from the U.K. protests:
I was extremely concerned to see that you listed outdoor roaming as a new owner's mistake.

Here in the UK we consider it cruel to keep a cat indoors, especially if it is kept alone, without another cat. Indeed, the Cats' Protection League will generally not rehome to flats or houses without gardens.

Perhaps in America the situation is different to in the UK. I would like to see a caveat added to your article, as I would never consider keeping a cat enclosed permanently.

Read my Reply


July 7, 2006 at 11:07 am
(1) Carol says:

I guess it depends on where you live. I live on a busy road and all my cats are kept strickly indoors. I have my basement designed like a playground for cats. There are high shelves where they can see outside and smell the fresh air. Toy boxes filled with all types of toys to play with. And there are cubbies low to floor and high in the rafters. Ramps of all sorts, they can run up and down. Scratching posts from the ceiling to the floor. All types of beds from my young cats to my older cats. They get fed twice a day, they have access to cat grass and catnip. And they have their own cat cabinet filled with treats,canned catfood and tons of toys. I would say they have everything they need to live quite comfortable and don’t need to go outside.

July 7, 2006 at 11:20 am
(2) Nancy Tungston says:

I live in America and I agree with you. I have a neighbor who smokes and keeps his cats indoors with him. I feel so sorry for the poor cats. If people locked their children in the house and never let them out, they would get charged with child abuse. The arguments I’ve heard in favor of keeping your cat indoors are two. 1) For their own safety. I agree, that in some areas, where wildlife predators have not yet been killed by humans, the cats life could be cut short. But for many areas the cat only has to stay away from dogs and cars for the most part and I feel their freedom to get outside makes that threat worth it. If you live on a busy street, you would have to watch your cat for awhile and see if it has the brains to stay away from cars first. 2) They kill birds. Stray cats, without a provider to feed them regularly and enough, probably eat birds, but I’ve never had a cat who was able to catch one. No one complains when they kill a rat or mice…
Where I live right now, there are cat predators. When I let my cat outside, I supervise her so she doesn’t get killed. Or, sometimes I put a harness and leash on her and take her somewhere beautiful to walk. I feel bad because I used to live in the city and she had a cat door which allowed her to come and go as she pleased. She spent more time outside than inside, and she never went further away than two houses in either direction. She had her places she ran when a dog came after her.

July 7, 2006 at 3:33 pm
(3) Victoria says:

I live in the US in the middle of a medium-sized city, and have two cats who are indoor cats only. They’re certainly curious, they like to look outside or sit by an open window, but that’s all. Like others, I have grass I grow indoors for them, scratching posts, places to climb to help keep them healthy and occupied. The vets says they are healthy and a good weight, and one of the cats is 11 years old!

I can’t conceive of letting them outside to roam at will. Cars, dogs, illness, heat… I’ve seen the studies about a cat’s average lifespan being much shorted based on whether they are indoors or outdoors (or a combination) . But I see it around me every day. I don’t seem to be able to go to work 5 days a week without seeing one animal a week dead by the side of the road.

I haven’t always been that way. Like many, my attitudes about cats changed over the years. When I’ve lived in areas with fewer dangers, I used to let mine go outside at will, or going out at night and coming in in the morning. I’ve lost few cats over the years, but I have been concerned many times in my life because one came back ill, or hurt in a fight, or bit by a snake or something else.

I understand that it depends on where you live. Outside the city I have friend’s with “barn cats” who seem to do very well. But on my street, I feel sorry for the cats I see outside, and do think their owner’s are not doing very well by their cats.

July 7, 2006 at 7:16 pm
(4) theresa pearcey says:

I live in a fifth floor apartment, so my cats are indoors, they are allowed on our balcony under constant supervision. Our calico loves it so much any time she sees me with my coffee cup she rushes to the balcony door expecting to go out.

When I was growing up our cats were
indoors/outdoors, our male got more than a few abcesses from fights, and the cold weather prematurely aged them as well. It was almost impossible to keep them indoors, even in winter.
If I had a house now I would build something like a dog run so that my cats could scratch a tree trunk, roll in the grass (and chew it too).

A more serious aspect of allowing cats outdoors, unsupervised, is the threat of avian flu, and unfortunately if this really does become a serious threat to humans, and cats can (and they have), contracted this from eating infected birds, is it really a stretch to think that some people will blame cats for contributing to the spread of the avian flu? And then what? I can only imagine, and that is bad enough.

July 7, 2006 at 11:44 pm
(5) carl says:

It depends how you live. Many people live in a situation where it would be fully irresponsible to let their cats outside.
But unfortunately, indoor only is like a life in prison without parole. Yes, maybe a luxury jail . And both humans and cats can get used to all kinds of things.
I spent countless hours watching my kitties outside. Their happiness is beyound description. they are fulfilled, mentally balanced, fit, no overweight. No amount of toys, scratching posts etc( I have all of that and they use those things) can ever replace it.
it would be much easier for me just to lock them up. less costs, less stress, less chance that something happens and I have to blame myself. I just cannot do it to them. We understand each other.
I get irritated by people insinuating that people like me are somehow ” irresponsible”. I think that they are more concerned about their own well being than about the well being of their cats.

July 8, 2006 at 2:29 am
(6) Don "Cat Lover" Oliver says:

I really believe it depends on where you live. I live in a suburb, and I do not let my cat out. I keep him(Spooky) spoiled and active from day one. I promised him I would do that when he became part of this family. We keep a bird feeder by the window , so his has plenty of friends. I even have the cat-sitting dvd for him to enjoy. However, if I lived in a open area, with lots of land, and fewer cars and people, my opinion would be different. All cat owners should celebrate this wonderful animal that can adapt to all settings, and survive.

July 8, 2006 at 6:43 pm
(7) becky says:

in some ways what you all say make sense…..but, I recently rescued two outdoor kitties and have given them the option to at least go on my deck. they don’t want to…..guess indoors isn’t soo bad.

July 11, 2006 at 12:18 am
(8) Helen says:

I have 4 cats and live in Australia. My cats are locked inside at night but would like them inside 24/7. We have a vast number of snakes and other vermin which harm cats so would have massive vet bills. All my cats are well and healthy, have access to everyhting they need without the ascary bits.
If one lived in a very safe environment with no preditors or harm for any type of animal it would be perfect world.

July 11, 2006 at 12:33 am
(9) bette says:

I used to think that it was cruel to keep a cat indoors, but not anymore. Cats can be infected (even in the UK) with parasites- silent and insidious, some of which can be transmitted to humans.

Do a search on roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm, coccidia, and heartworm- or ascaraid! you will be shocked at what your trusting kitty can carry back into your house. People in the UK probably don’t have to worry about parasites from disintegrated Raccoon feces but the folks in America(ESPECIALLY the midwest) sure do:
http://vetmedicine.about.com/b/a/148151.htm – it literally takes a blowtorch to destroy the eggs of that ferocious roundworm, which as part of its cycle can infect a third host(human, squirrel,rabbit,rat) and its larvae can travel through the brain-evolution in action as it is necessary for the third host to die, the raccoon to eat the tissue(usually rats, but can be a cat or bunny) then it reinfects the Raccoon (who amazingly enough is impervious to the presence of the parasite) and starts its life cycle over. This is why QUARANTINE is such a big issue when traveling with pets from foriegn contries.

There are parasites in every part of the world, and they usually are picked up from the ground or dead bodies of animals.
Sorry, its seems creepy, but my great aunt was a parasitologist, I just rescued an orphaned feral kitten just 4 weeks old. the poor things tummy was hard and round, and infested with worms. We got him fixed up and fostered, but the poor mite was SO glad to be indoors. No, cats love sleeping in your bed, gazing out the window, cuddling on the couch best. Its not missing ANYTHING in the great wide world.

Bette USA

July 11, 2006 at 1:12 am
(10) Bette says:

I used to think it was cruel to keep a cat indoors. But not anymore. I just recently rescued an orphaned feral kitten about 4 weeks old. Its belly was so tight and round and it was infested with roundworms. Do a search on ascarids or roundworms in pets and you will be shocked at what your trusting kitty can bring into your home! Even in the UK!


There are parasites all over the world. Folks in England may not have to worry about the evil Baylisascaris procyonis (Raccoon Roundworm) that is spread by the disintegration of raccoon feces, but folks in the US sure do. The eggs can survive up to 8 years in the environment(it takes a blowtorch to kill them)


Anyway, that little orphan kitty was SSSSSSSO glad to be inside.

Nope. kitties love to cuddle in your lap, sleep in your bed, and play tag in the house. Cats like to be CLEAN. They don’t miss the fleas, mite, lice, ringworm, or any of the other “companions”- they are not missing anything in the cruel wild world.

Best, Bette

July 11, 2006 at 10:22 pm
(11) Neil says:

I have had between 3-5 cats for the last 2-3 years, I currently have 3, 2 young males aged 2 ˝ and 1 male aged 4, I am inheriting 2 more young male aged 2 very shortly, 2 of the pervious cats passed away last year, aged 21 and 23.

I am lucky enough to live near plenty of open land in place that does not really have too many obstacles to the cat members of my family. They are free to roam 24/7, they can get in and out of the property at will and have places to sleep, feed and generally hang out all over the place and sometimes for example, I find them in the mornings asleep under a big magnolia bush that’s out in the garden, only in the summer of course. I consider myself and my feline family members to be very lucky to have such a place and they thrive here, they are all very, very healthy and incredibly well natured and wonderfully socialised, again I am very lucky to have such wonderfully natured little fellows, they argue occasionally but they are very much together and often you can find them all curled up together, they all eat together and will all sit with without any arguing or stress.

I agree that whether your cats stay indoors or not is most likely dependant on where you live, all I can say is that I wish people would consider whether its really fair and also consider the breed more, some breeds are far happier to live a captive life than others. If you choose correctly and offer the cat an appropriate amount of interaction, which can be quite high for an indoor cat, and of course plenty of caring, I’m sure it will be a happy cat and you will be a happy cat parent.

July 13, 2006 at 1:54 pm
(12) Carol says:

Our cats have always been inside/outside (never allowed outside at nite). We moved to a large city a few yrs ago….and live in the suburbs. It took a very brief time for the cats to acclimate themselves. they are 9, 11 and 12 yrs old (female) Actually, it is illegal in this part of the city for the cats to be outside — but our neighbors are delighted w/them — since they keep down the critter population (rabbits, mice, etc) Our cats are extremely healthy….and happy. I just could not bring myself to keep animals housebound — altho I realize that sometimes that is necessary

July 13, 2006 at 4:23 pm
(13) Mischa says:

My cats NEVER go outside. One of them panics if the door is even open to the outside and the other is mildly curious but not enough to leave the haven of her home. Cats should not go outside unless extremely supervised, ie leash/harness, or an enclosed area outside that they can neither jump out of or climb out of. The other thing with letting them outside is the fear of disease…fiv, feline luke, rabies, not to mention fleas, ticks and heartworm..yes, cats get heartworm.

July 13, 2006 at 5:08 pm
(14) Dawn says:

I have mixed feelings on the subject. I feel sorta sad that my cat has to stay indoors in my tiny apt. alone while I’m at work and that she is most likely very bored. I try to make up for it by taking her places to play/interact with other cats which she always looks forward to and I also try to make time to take her out to experience the outdoors (harnessed). However, I am aware of the dangers of allowing her to roam, especially in a city so…I feel better about my decision in this regard. Ideally, I would like to have a bigger home with an indoor/outdoor cattery and acquire a companion for her- I think that would be spendid!

July 13, 2006 at 7:28 pm
(15) Jill Friedman says:

In my experience as a longtime owner of numerous cats, most cats are much, much happier and healthier when they have lots of outdoor time. I live on a rural tropical island in Hawaii where people spend lots of time outdoors and it’s the norm to keep animals outdoors all or much of the time. I volunteer at the Humane Society and the adult cats there have constant access to a chainlink enclosure with a roof so they can have plenty of fresh air and stimulation in complete safety. The kittens are in cages indoors(in an airconditioned environment) and we take them out, one cage at a time, to a small yard for fresh air and exercise. Visiters from other states constantly remark on our beautiful shelter and how much happier the cats are, with the extra space and access to the outdoors. When I tried to keep my own cat(which I adopted from the shelter) indoors(due to the apartment management’s preferences)she was miserable, and had behavior problems-biting, ecxessive vocalizing, etc- even though I did all the right things to provide her with a very enriched indoor environment. So now I take her out into my yard on a leash every day, at least one hour a day, and she is much, much happier. She’s still overweight (due to lack of exercise, not overfeeding, a very common problem with indoor cats)and still has some behavior problems, mostly biting, but it’s a huge improvement over indoor-only. Also she is much calmer and happier during the time she is outdoors. I know that if she had constant access to the outdoors, the behavior problems would disappear completely.
Let’s face it: the idea of keeping a cat indoors 24/7, regardless of the circumstances, really is quite bizarre.
You wouldn’t do it to a dog, a child or yourself-so why do it to a cat? If safety is an issue, there are leashes, enclosures, even pet strollers, to keep the cat safe. And the truth is, if cats really were just as happy indoors, we wouldn’t be having this debate; we would just keep them indoors. I strongly recommend that the debate be changed from “indoors or outdoors” to “free-roaming or sheltered/supervised outdoor time.”

July 13, 2006 at 7:47 pm
(16) Rona says:

No rabies in the UK? No trapping? Cats don’t dig in your flower beds? My 8 cats have the run of a very large house. They have plenty of cat trees, toys, sunny spots, good food and water. Two came from the “outside” where they were infested with fleas and ticks, one had been attacked by another animal and had an abcess. One was bitten by a snake and was very ill. That plus idiot cat-haters shoot them. I guess cats in the UK don’t run across busy roads and get killed, they just stay in the garden. Either that or cats in the UK are smarter than cats in the US.

July 13, 2006 at 8:40 pm
(17) Eva says:

I grew up in Germany and we lived in a very rural area (VERY), so our cat could go in or out at will. Now however, I live in the suburbs in the US and my cats are indoor cats. They just have to be, it’s much too dangerous to roam outside. I did however build them an enclosure so they can enjoy some sunshine in a safe environment and chase bugs etc. That way everyone is happy.
I do see that an enclosure is not a possiblity for many and when it comes down to roaming free or strictly indoors, there is no question in my mind that indoors is just safer and can be just as stimulating.

July 14, 2006 at 1:36 am
(18) Lisa says:

Obviously this reader knows nothing about a cat’s well being. I love my cat and he stays indoors!! Because I live on a busy street but also because I don’t want to see him suffer with flea, mites or other insect bites. His litter box is kept clean at all times, and he gets plenty of excercise as well. You people in the UK must enjoy the rancid smell of cat urine and feces in your gardens. I for one am glad that I live in Canada. At least in Canada and the United States we people really understand the responsibilities of owning and the PROPER care of our cats!

July 14, 2006 at 4:55 am
(19) Ingrid says:

Sorry, but I have never red such a stupid comment as Lisa gave from Canada ! 1) I have friends in Canada and their cats have cat flaps and go out whenever they want. 2) I have also friends in the USA who do the same. Nobody should generalize. I have 4 cats and always had cats, they were all 20 to 21 years old when they died, and only because they were old. Lisa only thinks about her happiness and doesn’t care about the cat. My cats never had flees or other stuff of that kind because they are all treated with Frontline. There has never been “rancid” smell in the house. All the cats in the neighbourhood are spayed. What all intelligent and cat lovers should do ! Of course it depends where you live, but not all cats are meant to live inside. As humans they have all a different character. Between my 4 cats (14, 7, 6 and 3 yrs old) there are two who could never ever stay inside, they would destroy the whole furniture and his owner too ! Or have you never seen a cat scratching as mad at all doors and miauwing for hours to get out ? Even the most solid nerves cannot stand that. My two others are indoor cats, they only go out when I am in the garden. As a cat fan I have a lot of friends all over the world who keep their cats in or outdoor it all depends on the character of the cat and where you live. Something else : let the cats outside during night, there is less trafic, cats are not children, they don’t go in a bar ! And don’t keep a cat unhappy indoors because you live in a dangerous place for cats. Then take a guinny pig or a hamster. If you really love cats !
By the way I live in Belgium, my husband is italian, I am german and our son lives in the UK. Concerning the cats we have all the same opinion. My son gave his two cats to me because he had to move from his house in London (where the cats could go outside)to an appartment in Amsterdam (where the cats had to be kept inside) and they were so unhappy, that he prefered to give them to me. He loves his cats !

July 15, 2006 at 3:14 pm
(20) Robin says:

I do keep my cat indoors (I live in a high rise) and would not consider letting him roam. He does go out on the balcony when I am watching him; I’d take him out on a lease if he tolerated it. Maybe it is selfish to keep him inside just so I can have him with me lomger — cats’ lives are but a fraction of our own, even under the best of circumstances — I can not imagine openning the door, letting him be exposed to other animals, disease, nasty people, cars, ect… and not knowing when or IF I will ever see him again. I love him too much!! I think that since this is the only life he has ever known he does not miss being free to roam. I could not stand to see him mamed or injured after an encounter with another cat or a dog— or a bratty kid. He is always clean and healthy, I know what he eats, therefore, I feel the benefits of keeping my beloved cat indoors far outweigh what he might gain from being outside. I know he will live longer (we have been together almost 14 years). Since cats are notorious for killing song birds and other small animals, I see it as irresponsible to allow a cat to roam.

July 15, 2006 at 8:25 pm
(21) Hanna says:

In answer to “Doesn’t the UK have rabies?” the answer is no, it doesn’t, actually! The UK being an island has been so far spared rabies, widely spread in Europe mainland.
The main point between indooors/ outdoors is really each cat’s own personality and taste, and that’s it. My cat runs the opposite direction when the front door is opened! He just has no interest in the outside, and he is a semi-nervous type that dislikes noises and the unfamiliar. What am I supposed to do, kick him out, otherwise I’m depriving him?
The Cat Protection League in the UK only gives cats to people with large gardens, far from busy roads, to people that have steady jobs, yet also have someone staying home all day to keep the cat company! Pretty few fit the bill, and the result is CPL, and other charities, complaining that too many kittens are destroyed each year, as there aren’t enough homes to go round! Yet they rather have them dead than living in a first floor 4 bedroom flat with a balcony, as that is assumed to be worse than death for ALL cats, indiscriminately. I call that throwing the baby out with the water, but that’s just personal opinion.
Besides, not anyone with a garden will make a good owner, as the thousands of pregnant queens left behind in back gardens as the owners move home can testify.
Paradoxically, the CPL UK will rehome to indoors only homes what qualifies as a “Flat cat”, that is any cat that was raised from kitten in an apartment or house with no outdoor access. Maybe the “flat cat” has been waiting to get out all his life! Where does it say that a cat can’t get used to the outdoors unless he went out as a kitten? And the kitten that was refused to the human they fell for, because they lived in a flat, is given to a garden home and maybe is scared to go out, and never will. Weird, strict policies that say “we know best ALWAYS” without really considering the individual cases, or allowing any scope for human/cat relationship.
Living indoors doesn’t have to be a nightmare! If I could, I’d be indoors all the time! Fresh air comes in from windows, as do bugs. Of course, that’s personal taste. But that doesn’t mean that NO cat ABSOLUTELY will feel the same way I do on the subject, and rather lounge on the sofa than a prickly tree branch! Ever heard of the intellectual type?!
As someone else here said, cats are THE most adaptable uncaged pets, so lets give them a chance to adapt! Believe me, if your cat wants to go out badly, he will have no second thoughts in letting you know!
Some believe the freedom of feeling the wind on their furry face and chasing bugs and birds around is the most important thing in a cat’s life, not the bond with their human and cat housemates. If that is true, and it should all be in the cats’ best interest, then it would make sense to return all cats to nature, where they don’t have to be run over by cars, stolen for profit (500.000 cats are butchered in vivisection experiments in the UK every day-Animal Aid figures-where do they all come from?), get lost on noisy human streets, scared or maimed by dogs on purpose, for the fun of their twisted owners, and are forced to live in a neighboroud they didn’t choose, where local cats might be nasty, and some neighbours might poison or torment them not to have cat poo in their rose beds. Is that in the cat’s interest? The only real welfare for cats, then, would be far from any human contact, to live out their “nature intended” existence in peace, without having to come running to eat meat-tasting corn from a bowl and being pestered silly by our lovely children! Owning pets is chiefly a selfish pursuit in all cases, if one really thinks about it, because WE want them they are around, they didn’t choose to be socialized and attached to human comforts, trusting humans for better or worse, being owned, rehomed, abandoned: they were born/forced into it.
How can not allowing your cat to roam free in danger be selfish? The world we force them in is not fit for them to roam alone. I’ve seen cats that were sitting safely on the curb run across the street as a car approached: they have no idea what a car is about! Does a cat have fun being lost or killed by a car? Cats, and pets in general, are more dependant on their humans than a child of, say 5, as the child can speak and ask for help. Why don’t you let out your 1 year old on their own, they might enjoy the freedom! Come on, don’t be selfish!
I’m glad me and my cat are well matched, and both hate going out; we spend hours reading, napping and chasing rattling mice in and out of boxes, and his happy cute face as he relaxes on my bed is the best sight in the world to me!

July 16, 2006 at 12:02 pm
(22) tori says:

i live in the uk and have 2 indoor cats. id just like to say that the woman who posted the question doesnt speak for everyone in the uk as her “we” would indicate. i have many friends who have indoor cats, as our cats are loved so much that we wont risk the dangers of letting them outside. (they seem to be the same the world over), its also because of this love that are cats are treated like royalty and so are happy being inside. while i prefer to keep my cats inside i agree that it is entirely dependant on where you live and what your cats personality is, mine are mostly terrified of going outside but like to go in the garden on a harness. i guess the most important thing is that your pet is loved and happy.

July 18, 2006 at 12:48 am
(23) Heather says:

When I got my middle-aged siamese last year, I lived in an apartment (Sydney, Australia). I was concerned about being cruel keeping her indoors because previously she’d been very much an outdoor cat – but she needed a home, and I had no choice but to keep her in as I work everyday. She adapted surprisingly well to the situation and I made sure I gave her lot of attention when I got home from work. Now I live in a part of the city which has much more bush around and we have a big backyard…but I made the decision to keep her inside anyway for the sake of her own safety and the sake of the local wildlife. She can go out under strict supervision only. She doesn’t mind. She seems to prefer indoors anyway.

January 31, 2007 at 9:35 pm
(24) Jennifer says:

(small city USA)
A new cat should be kept indoors to become accustomed to their new home or they may try running away to find the home they are more familiar with. My spouce had a terrable scare when his elderly long hair disapeared for over a week after moving to our apartment. He was finally found three blocks away from our prevoius apartment. After adjusting to a new “home” reference point local hazards and the personality of your cat should be used to determine if the wee one should stay indoors, go outdoors, or both.

February 23, 2007 at 8:40 am
(25) Glyn says:

I have two Siamese cats which never go out. They are spoiled rotten and have the best things going. I have heard of many Siamese going missing either because they have been let out got scared and run off, or they have been stolen by someone who is hoping to breed from them.

Have you never heard of ‘What you never have you never miss’

I love my two cats and would be heartbroken if I thought they were unhappy. I live in a big house and they run around the place like mad things.

March 5, 2007 at 4:41 pm
(26) Rachael says:

It really depends on the cat some enjoy going outside and others don’t so it cannot be said that it is cruel to have an indoor cat .I have a cat that lives indoors and is not at all interested in going out in the garden although it has had the choice.

March 31, 2007 at 9:32 am
(27) Kitty says:

This thread is so interesting. We have a cat who is almost 2 years old. Unfortunately (or fortunately in some ways for us) due to my husbands job we have to move to the city and into an appartment. I don’t want to loose my cat as he is like my baby and I want the best for him, will he adapt to being an indoor cat? Please help.

Kitty (yes it’s my real name)

May 29, 2007 at 9:30 pm
(28) Sandy says:

I have 4 cats. Two adults that are 4 and 3. Two kittens are from the same litter that are 8 months old. All were rescued from outside. Kitty, the oldest showed up in my driveway with a broken pelvis. We nursed her back to health. She would love to be outside, however we live along a very busy two lane highway. Our backyard connects to an orchard, but with a pond across the street the ducks are too tempting for her. The trucks and cars fly past my house. We live in a very large old orchard house with plenty of space to roam. Kitty may yearn for the outdoors,but I can’t imagine the poor thing being hit by another car. She has some feral left in her and even trying to get a leash on her would be treacherous to say the least. None are declawed and they all are very pampered and taken care of. In the US, people make a game out of hitting animals on the road. It depends on where you live. The thing that counts is that the cats are well taken care of, loved and wanted and to hear that someone thinks it cruel to keep a cat inside has no real idea of how cruel the outside can be to an animal once it has been domesticated.

June 18, 2007 at 6:09 am
(29) Stuart says:

Very interesting debate. We lived in a flat for 6 years and yearned to have cats. We got a move to a house with a nice garden and seemingly as if it was “meant to be” we were offered two kittens from the same litter that a friend couldnt look after. They were everything we could have asked for, patient with the children and very loving. They obviously wanted to go outside, and duly that moment came. Everything was fine, they always stayed in overnight, then a few weeks ago, we found one lying dead at the side of the road near our house. Our other cat was lost without him. On Friday (just passed our other lovely cat was hit and killed instantly just outside our door. Neither made it to their first birthday. I don’t know if I ever want to get a cat again after this experience. One thing is for sure, if we do, it will be a wholely indoor cat. I always thought it was not fair to have a cat indoors, but after reading some of the above comments, especially the one fronm Hanna, and our own experience, I may think again. Any cat we bring into our house will not suffer from lack of love or attention, but I dont want to have to (sorry to be blunt) scrape a beloved pet of any more roads.

June 27, 2007 at 10:42 am
(30) Nikki says:

I live in the UK and have owned cats for the last 20 years. Some have loved being outside and some are scared of the wind and hate it. The main problem now is other people. In the last few weeks several cats have been shot with air rifles, one 13 times and another had a pellett lodged in her spine so had to be put down. We have also had cats that have been poisoned and this has led to huge vets bills, suffering for the cats and once death. I agree that some cats love the outdoors but as long as the house is comfy and they have toys I reckon most would be content to stay in.

July 4, 2007 at 3:49 pm
(31) Janet says:

My Kelly is in the end stage of her life. She probably only has a few days left as she has stopped eating and is only taking small amounts of water. We are not sure of her exact age. We rescued her 18 years ago and our vet at that time placed her at 2 or 3 years of age so we estimate she is between 20 and 21 years old. She became very sick 5 years ago when I had my first child and we thought we were going to lose her. She had also been an indoor only cat but for some reason cried and persisted at the door. We relented and let her out (NY suburb) feeling if she hadn’t much time left she should be able to do as she pleased. She never roamed too far but was able to chase a bird, watch a squirrel and enjoy a cool breeze. That was 5 years ago! I guess happiness has something to do with “long lived”. I will miss my Kelly terribly and am not sure if I will let our next feline out alone. I do think monitoring is important especially for young cats. I wouldn’t let my children out alone at their young ages either.

August 31, 2008 at 10:03 am
(32) Jacqueline says:

I have 2 cats, both of which love to be outside and cry a lot to go out. They started as indoor/outdoor because I thought that was fine. When we got our 2nd cat, our neighbor complained that he was in their yard and they hated cats. So we tried keeping the one they didn’t like indoors. We couldn’t take the crying anymore so let him out, but less often. He kills mice, rabbits, bugs, etc. Well, he did finally bring fleas into the house, so now I’m trying to keep both indoors. They are unhappy. Any suggestions to make it better for them? Enclosures look so expensive. Any helpful ideas would be welcome.

September 4, 2008 at 10:42 am
(33) Mike in Barcelona says:

Hi all,

First of all, can I say thanks to all the people who have taken the time to write. I’m getting my first ever cat today and reading this has been invaluable information for me. I’ve been reluctant to get one in the past as I am away a lot and was worried it wouldn’t get the attention it needed. However, my current circumstances mean this wouldn’t be the case, so, the only doubt I had left was exactly this: would it be ok living inside? I have a 8m2 balcony it (she, she will be called Luna) will be able to go out on. It’s a third floor apartment. Can I be sure she won’t jump off? I will supervise her and have thought not to let her out at all onto the balcony until she is a bit older, and then to do it bit by bit. Then if I am out, I can leave a door open and she can go out onto the balcony – it gets hot in Barcelona in summer.

So excited!! I will let you know how I get on. She will not want for love that is for sure. Can someone let me know about the balcony? Thanks!


September 4, 2008 at 11:00 am
(34) Franny Syufy says:

Hi Mike,
Congratulations on getting your first cat! You didn’t mention how high your balcony is. However, from what you’ve described, I do not recommend letting Luna on the balcony unless you are there to supervise her.

Even the most agile cat may slip and *fall* off a balcony railing and she could become injured at the least, or lost.

Is there any way you can enclose the balcony with see-through netting or wire mesh?

September 16, 2008 at 10:58 am
(35) Bernie says:

Mike, I recommend you not to leave Luna unattended in the balcony because in most cases cats are not aware of the actual height and they tend to explore every single side of their home. I know lots of cases they accidentally felt off.

March 3, 2009 at 8:52 pm
(36) Tyler says:

I had a Cat who lived to 21 who was always and outdoor cat, in fact, he was abused by his previous owner. It is cruel and ridiculous to keep your cats inside. They lose something. My good friend has indoor cats and they are the WEIRDEST creatures i have ever come across. Its almost as if they aren’t nudered or something. Cats are outdoor creatures, basically if you don’t let them out they will be miserable. How can you sit there as your cat meows at the door fixated, just looking outside at all the wonders of the neighborhood? Yes i have lost 2 of my 7 cats that i have owned over the years, most likely to cars, but at least i know they were happy to be outside in the wonders of nature, and not some carpeted apartment complex cooped up and loony.

March 3, 2009 at 8:58 pm
(37) Tyler says:

Dear Stuart, you can’t let kittens roam free outside. If that is why they were killed it is because they are too young to be roaming alone. You should always wait 8 months to a year before letting a cat out unattended.

July 19, 2009 at 9:56 am
(38) RSK says:

I have two rescue cats that were outdoors the first year of their life–there’s no way for me to know for sure, but I think one of them was definitely abused because of the way she acted and the fact that it took her four years to trust me. I got them from an animal rescue in the US, and even though it was a condition that I have to keep them inside in order to adopt, these two girls have made it VERY clear that they want nothing to do with going outside, ever again. They may no longer hide under the bed when I open the door like they used to, but they don’t make any move to go out at all.

I’ve also noticed in the list of diseases that outdoor cats may get there is one that should be mentioned because it’s becoming more of a problem. Cats with light-colored skin can get skin cancer. My sister had a pale orange tabby with fair skin on his nose and ears, and he was an outdoor cat “because he wanted to be”. Well, after about ten or twelve years of being allowed to do as he wanted, he came home one day with a huge scab on his nose that turned out to be skin cancer. They did surgery to remove it, but it had already spread through the lining of his nose down his throat. Chemo and radiation weren’t an option, as my sister had her own medical bills, and the vet told her there wasn’t a good chance it could save him or help him, anyway. He spent the next few miserable months at home, not able to breathe very well and choking on his own hairballs.

After seeing that, I don’t think I would ever let a cat outdoors on its own. The sun can be a silent killer of cats, too.

May 21, 2010 at 10:59 am
(39) Karen says:

I moved to Canada from the UK just 3 years ago. I have had cats all my life. I decided I would like to have a couple here – I sincerely regret that decision because I am having to make decisions now that go greatly against my beliefs and principles and had I known what it was really like here I would never have adopted them. People’s attitudes towards cats here is terrible – so different from the UK. Letting them outdoors is a huge risk – mainly because of other people. It was my decision that the cats should be allowed outdoors – one of my cats has been taken to the pound twice probably because someone didn’t like him crossing their yard … it cost $80 dollars to get him back – we live in a quiet neighbourhood with little traffic (in fact compared to uk traffic almost none existant). My next door neighbour has two cats he never lets out I now know why he does this – the poor things sit on the window staring out all day they are obese and very unhappy looking. Worse than that they’ve had their claws removed! I seriously question people’s motives for wanting to keep cats in the first place to do this to them. Would they lock their children up and remove their finger nails!

September 15, 2010 at 5:11 pm
(40) Naomi says:

I’m in the US — Birmingham, AL (in an urban neighborhood) to be exact. Until very recently I had a 16 year old cat and two 15 year old cats. All three were primarily outdoor cats.

Additionally, I do think that it’s cruel and selfish to keep them inside. Given the preference, they want to be able to go outside, except for when it’s cold or rainy or there’s some reason to be inside. I, as an individual, wouldn’t want to stay inside all the time. Nor would I keep my child inside. I guess we’d be safer if we didn’t go out and drive around in those cars, but I just don’t see how I could possibly be satisfied with that life. So, why would I keep my cats inside?

On the down side, my 16-year-old recently disappeared. . . :( . . . hopefully some old lady trapped her and is keeping her inside. I’ve had emails sent out, posted classified ads, and put of posters, but haven’t heard a thing. That said, even if she died, she’s lead a fulfilling life–and could still catch a rat at 16–and never got painfully or cripplingly old. One thing about outdoor cats is that you probably won’t get as solid closure at the end. But that’s for you, not for them.

November 12, 2011 at 11:38 pm
(41) tabascocat2 says:

Even our veterinarians in the U.S. will verify that keeping cats indoors in urban and suburban areas is much better, on the whole, for their overall health. The American Veterinary Medical Association’s policy states: “The AVMA strongly encourages owners of domestic cats in urban and suburban areas to keep them indoors.” In the U.S., it’s hard to find a cat rescue that doesn’t require adopters to promise never to allow the adopted cat outdoors, because, generally, the cats being adopted were found in some hazardous, outdoor situation. Also, in the U.S., at least where I live in the Washington DC area, many local governments (cities and counties) REQUIRE all pets to be confined or leashed. All of this is evidence that Americans are not averse to keeping cats indoors, and we recognize the various risks involved in an outdoor life for a cat. Not only are cats more vulnerable to a wide variety of hazards outside, but they can be a real nuisance, too. In my experience, free-roaming cats have 1) used flower beds close to windows to urinate or defecate in, causing obnoxious odors in the home, 2) destroyed window screens and overturned pots of plants, and 3) attracted certain people who fed them outdoors, thereby attracting rats and certain wildlife, which in turn, caused a nuisance. Free roaming have also killed protected birds, for which, technically the owner is responsible and liable under federal, state, and local laws. From the cradle to my present half-century age, I’ve had cats in my home, and none of them has been allowed outside without a leash. Some liked the leash (attached to a harness), some didn’t. They generally lived nearly 20 years. So, from my point of view, the idea that cats have to go outside to be happy and healthy is a bit romanticized.

December 8, 2011 at 10:11 am
(42) jojo says:

It really depends on the cat, some are happy indoors and don’t want out but If they want to go out let them. You wouldn,t get a dog If you didn,t have a garden so I feel people shouldn,t have cats if they live on busy roads and the cats could be harmed. My 2 cats go outside whenever they want and always come home but then I live on a very street with good neighbours. There are many cats around and dogs but my cats have learned from very young to stay out of peoples yards. The generally sleep in the sun on the stoop. They wanted out from around 4 months and after a couple of supervised outings I left them too it. I live in south africa, its hot so keeping all the windows and doors closed is not an option. By the way I am a Vet so regulary see injured cats but almost always they from homes on busy roads. Its a personal opinion but I think keeping cats inside is cruel.

October 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm
(43) Mya says:

Cruel indeed!
The extent of the history I have on my tabby is that she was found by some neighborhood kids pregnant and hungry, so they delivered her to my co-worker who fosters cats. After having her litter and then being spayed, she adapted surprisingly well to being an indoor cat to a couple who have a dog, half a dozen cats at any given time, several visitors both adults and children, and both work full-time.
I adopted her a few months ago. I live in an urban area (no yard/garden) with two roommates, one of which also has a cat We’re all students so we have busy schedules, and during the day while we’re gone the cats stay in our respective rooms. When we’re both there they are allowed to interact with supervision and mostly just tolerate each other’s presence.
With people she is a very sweet and loving cat. She does have a lot of energy and gets bored easily, but I learned the hard way that doesn’t mean she wants to go outside.
I travel frequently to see my family who live 800 miles away, so I actually wanted my cat to be okay with going out especially in the car. I decided leash training would be best for long trips. After getting her used to wear it and going around inside with it. I tried taking her out. A car drove by right after I opened the door scaring her into climbing up and over my shoulder and down my back, slipping out of the harness and run up the stairs away from the door.
After that, I apologized to her with treats, dressed the scratches I got during her escape, and decided to buy a cat carrier.

If you can afford to build an outdoor enclosure for your cats, or have a cat who is willing to go out on a leash then by all means let them explore outdoors, but if your cat doesn’t like either of those then don’t let them out. It’s too dangerous to let them roam free even with you watching. The average life of an indoor cat can be up to 20 years, outdoor cats it’s about half that. The idea it’s cruel to keep them inside is sentimental bologna! Mine adapted to the indoors and she was a stray. It’s far more cruel to let them go out and get hit by a car.

January 26, 2013 at 10:29 am
(44) Eleutheras says:

Here’s a thought. If you live in a place where you can’t let your cat outside (and let’s face it, all cats WANT to go outside) then don’t get a cat. If you truly love animals then you would think about what is truly best for them. I really love otters and I have a big bath-shall I get one? I am sure it will be happy if I let it swim in the bath and give it lots of fish…..No? I feel sick when I see cats in flats, staring out of windows at places they will never see. Never knowing the fun of climbing a tree or feeling the grass under their feet. All so their selfish owners can have something to stroke.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.