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Readers Respond: Have you had an epiphany about the indoor-outdoor controversy around cats?

Responses: 144


Inside only

I keep my cats inside for safety reasons. I've seen too many cats killed on the road (one of mine was years ago) and for health reasons also.
—Guest LAM

A mixture of results

We have 4 cats here and they live in the house, we also look after 12 feral's who live in the greenhouse. we have a 50 acre farm and the feral's certainly keep the vole population down a little on the field but I have yet to see any of them catch a bird despite us having bird feeders. I think rural birds are just too smart for cats. I think one has to remember the natural food chain when talking about field mice etc and the population on 50 acres is incredible.

I grew up with outside cats

My parents never had indoor cats. Once they were old enough to go outside they went. My parents were very clean and a smelly litter box didn't exactly fit into their lives. Even in our basement. Plus my mother wasn't the person to clean it out every day. It was easier to just open the door and let them out.

Keep looking!

To Terri and any others looking for their lost cats: Don't give up! A scared cat's first instinct is to hide and go to ground. It can take literally weeks for the cat to come out where anyone might see him/her. When our feral-born, 2 year old indoor cat ran out of the front door left open in error, it took almost a month before we even saw him. Then it was another few days before we were able to catch him. He was very skinny, but otherwise okay. He was hiding in the yard directly across the street from our old house. He had probably heard us call him many times, but it took weeks for him to come out of hiding. A woman who tracks lost animals (and people!) with her two tracker dogs told us about many cats' impulse to hide, and counseled us to be patient in our seach. It was the best advice we got, so do not give up hope or stop looking! Our cats stay indoors because we've seen way too many felines in our urban neighborhood injured and killed outside, mostly by cars.
—Guest Rachel G.

A short but fulfilling life?

Rescued a 2-week old orphan kitten off the street who grew up to be the friendliest cat I've ever met. But he was alone every day in my 50 sqm apartment with all that pent up energy and so I started letting him go outside, supervised, for a few months, until I finally just left the window open and he could come and go as he pleased. The city isn't particularly safe - cars and dogs and sadists and especially other cats - but mine was so smart and cautious; I figured he knows how to survive. It seemed wrong for me to have saved his life as a kitten only to keep him locked up for the rest of it. Three weeks ago he left and didn't come back. The not knowing is the worst of it, I miss him so much and still weep, yet thinking back, I feel like although his life was (probably) short, it was full of joy and richness. In my neighborhood feral kittens are born every month. They are survivors, but danger and death are part of their lives. It's we humans who have so much difficulty with loss.
—Guest Jeremy


I do not like to let my cat outdoors, however it is difficult to keep them in when they have been used to being outside all their live. I had one hit by a car, and one that was shot with bird shot and had to go to the Pet ER. I managed to keep her in for 4 weeks after that, but she literally went insane trying to get out. I now limit her to outside during the day and in at night. She wants to live life on her terms! Cats are funny-I have another feral that I brought in during Hurricane Irene and she decided that she never wanted to go out again (obviously she wasn't really feral, but scared). The best compromise is my screened porch, which my indoor cats love!
—Guest CatLover60

my cat Rusty got bitten by a snake

My cat chases wildlife when she goes outside and got bitten by a snake and had to have treatment by a vet that was quite expensive. She still wants to go outdoors but the vet said I had to leave her in for a week. I live in Australia.
—Guest Lenore

Indoor Cats

We have kept our (current) 4 cats indoors for 30+ years. They seem very happy and do not want to go outside. They are very delicate animals.
—Guest Robert Reger


I let mine outdoor. I have 2, one from being a kitten and the other a stray that got trapped under my deck one winter. They are both 7 years old. They sometimes come back a little rough but they love the outdoors, it's their natural habitat. I feel like I'd rather them have the opportunity to live free as they want and die happy then to lock them up inside. Also they are pretty responsive when I call them, they follow me when I walk to the corner store and if a dog goes crazy seeing them I can just call them to me and they come. I can call them when I step outside for a smoke and they will come running from behind one of the house on the street pretty quick. Having them listen like that alleviates a lot of the stress of if they will come back.
—Guest Mitch

Introducing a Jack Russell to 3 cats

We are going to take care of a friend's JR for a week and I'm concerned about how they will react. Two are scardy cats, but one likes to play, very rough and tumble. Any advice?


Last year a little tortie and white girl turned up by our communal bins desperate for scraps or food put out for the foxes. After weeks of her turning up nightly, I put up posters, checked vets, microchip (none) and then took her in. I live on 2nd floor in a 1 bed on a fairly busy road junction. I taught her indoors to wear a leash and we go out daily sometimes twice round the back of the flats to a small overgrown communal garden where she watches the birds and has even tried to climb a tree with an extension lead on after a bird (bird safe!). She seems happy to be an indoor cat although I have to make time for play sessions and sit in all weathers in the garden so she can sniff the DNA of all visitors since last visit and meow and glare at birds visiting! I did initially try to rehome her to a house with a garden but she escaped and ran over 5 days 2 miles back to our bins so she decided where she wanted to live and of course I named her Bin Bin (Bindi).

Didn't want cats

I have a 15 year old 6 pound dog. I didn't want cats. I tried everything to get an abandoned mother and kitten adopted but agencies told me they would be put to sleep. Maybe they could be barn cats. So I took over feeding, then shots, then opened my door and they come and go as they please. Then spent more money I don't have to provide places for cats to play and scratch. Now I can keep them in at night since it is cold. But mid night there is constant meowing wanting to go out. If I put them in garage, they don't trust me for awhile. They hate being trapped. So My best for now is to keep them in at night. I would still give them away to someone who would provide the good home that I do. I am angry at people who don't get cats fixed right off the bat. I used to have a bird bath, now I can't. I had to cover all my furntiture. I am doing the best I can but trying to keep them in and jeopardize my old loyal loved dog, they need a way to escape.
—Guest Sunny CA

Uh, another thing..

Even Doh my cat Frodo does his Business outside, he pee'd in the shower for me to show me the blood in his pee, after having urinary tract issues. How cool is that! (please don't use "go Cat" dry food (vet did not approve at all - especially if your cat is neutered - I know, stupid me).
—Guest Tinafromeire

Free Cats

I own a cat named Frodo, lovingly dubbed "International Cat" (now aged 7), he lived and roamed in Ireland, Germany and Italy, and now in Ireland again. I think that we need to choose the right set up for them, to give them the chance to learn and progress in their lives. But if you have inappropriate dwellings - you should keep a Guinea Pig instead. Cats need the Country Side! I went through considerable effort (each awkward move - euro crisis, what can I say). To ensure the home is rural, even Doh he is good with traffic. We need to to do which is best for them ( not what is more convenient for us!) I drive an hour to work, and being rewarded by looking at cows out my window. Cats (Pets) are not substitute children, but individuals with their own needs. Saying this, in Europe we don't have to worry about predators (a streetwise cat gives a dog a run for his money). Of course there has been the odd drama - such is life. Declawing your cat is sick, by the way!! Best wishes from Ireland.

My Indoor Ragdoll

My indoor Ragdoll little girl's name is Molly. She stays indoors and waits for us to come home daily by sitting at the dining room window and waiting. She chases me around the house and is very quick at finding me when we play hide and seek. We have a long hallway for her to run down and a cat tree she is the sole Queen of. And we do not worry about her safety, we live in a Coyote inhabited rural area and every once in a while hear the coyotes having a feeding frenzy with somebody's pet in the neighborhood. Molly is a happy little girl and I open the big livingroom window in the mornings for awhile so she can take in the outdoors. We will be retiring after the end of the year and I think Molly will REALLY enjoy having both my wife and I home all the time. She sleeps between us nightly.
—Guest Mike Rice

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