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

Responses: 95


Train outdoor cat to stay indoor

Please can you help me with my problem. How do I train my cat to stay indoors at night. She is always looking to get out at night. In the morning after been outside she brings leaves and pronounce her arrival.
—Guest Pat

Depends on the Cat

I have two cats that live entirely outside, with the garage as their 'home base'. They've lived there since they were born, and though I make sure that they have clean food and water etc. and that their treatments and vaccinations are kept up on they really take care of themselves. It's great to just walk around the yard or hang out in the hammock with them. They are very capable of taking care of themselves, I saw that first have when my aunt brought her dog over. The dog chased one of the cats and she lead him on a wild goose chase through the woods until he couldn't find his way back. (We found him, don't worry.) We don't have a real predatory bird population, and though there are coyotes around they avoid residences. That being said I have also recently adopted a cat from the local shelter and I don't think she'll be going outside anytime soon. She's much to skittish to survive out there. If she adjusts then we'll try it out, but I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon
—Guest Kate

never outdoor

I work at a cat shelter, the things I hear on a daily basis would make your skin crawl. I believe that being a responsible cat owner means taking all steps necessary to provide a safe indoor home. We receive approx. 6 reports a day for lost cats. They all start the same....He never left the yard....he just sits on the porch.....he is very smart...he can take care of himself....we have a tall fence.!! Hello? cats climb trees. A cats claws are no match for a dog, fox, raccoon or coyote. If you think your cat NEEDS to be outside then build an enclosure that is secure and has a roof. Or get off your bum and buy a harness and take him on daily walks. My cats mean everything to me I would never put them in jeopardy They have large condos in front of the windows in most rooms. They are not bored. The window is their TV. They are quite happy to move from room to room chatting at the birds and squirrels. My last 2 cats lived to be 20 & 21, they were not sick or in pain at the end of their lives
—Guest white cat ranch


My cats have always been indoor cats. They like to go outside a little bit in the summer. They only come outside with me, and will stick very close by. They either stay on the front porch with me or just off of it, sniffing in the garden beds or rolling in the grass. There are too many natural dangers - coyotes, foxes, cars, dogs - for them to be allowed to roam, but they do enjoy the occasional outside excursion once in a while in the summer.
—Guest Kathy

Indoor only

I have owned several cats over the years, and used to think they "deserved" to go outdoors. That is until we lost two of them to motor vehicle accidents. The fact is that cats are NOT safe outdoors. There are way too many threats to their health and life. I just got an adorable male kitten, and he is perfectly happy indoors, if he wants to see the outside he sits in the living room window and is perfectly content with this. I know one thing for sure, I will never have my heart broken from some terrible tragedy happening to him, he will always be happy, and safe. If you love your cat, keep him indoors!

I've had both but feel indoor is best

I've had both indoor and indoor/outdoor. I want to keep them inside so I know they are safe and healthy. Some of my kitties, especially males, preferred the outside. I have two cats now. One 1 and one 2. The 2 year old is scared to death of going and side and runs when the door is opened. I'm content with that. My 1 year old I adopted from a shelter. She has digestive issues and requires a special diet. She insists on running outside any chance she gets! She is very active and demands a lot of attention. I just can't play all day long like she seems to want to. My other kitty will take bouts of wanting to play and they play hard. I prefer inside kitties but I'm on the fence with my Angel about her getting sick again. So far she always comes home after a few hours. I am always so anxious when she is outside. I think it is much harder on me than it is her! I want her to be happy though.
—Guest Kelly

Indoor-only can be inhumane.

But largely it depends on the cat's temperament and the environment. I always had indoor/outdoor cats, and they've all lived to be a ripe old age, but that's because I lived in a rural mountain valley, in a house with a lot of land, and while it was heavily forested, it lacked poisonous snakes and large predators. I love cats and really want a cat, but I live in an apartment in a city, so I'd have to be very selective about the kind of cat I would get, since they can't go outdoors. Cats are sentient beings, with their own "cat-alities" and preferences, much like humans. It would be cruel to force a bold, adventurous cat to stay indoors. One of my parent's cats is like that; whenever he had to stay inside, it was clear that it was slow torture to him. The other would be content to stay indoors forever. So if you believe in indoor-only cats, go ahead. Just make sure they have the right temperament to handle it. And don't underestimate a cat's ability to sense danger, or craftiness.
—Guest Evangeline

Out door Cats

That`s not totally true, I have two 16 year old Cats who live outside, and, there`s a reason why Cats have claws, also, Cats can harm small Dogs, and an indoor Cat needs a litter box, my Cats live out doors for the safty of my two Pomeranians, and the Cats them selves, my Cats don`t go too far, and they`re smart enought to not go near any one!
—Guest Pomeranians rule

Weird Neighbors

A former neighbor of ours killed several neighborhood cats. When his next door neighbor discovered that his cat was missing, the truth came out. * The wife was a friend of mine and like myself loves cats, so she confided in me; otherwise I would have never suspected it. When he wasn't killing our other neighbors cats, this guy presented himself as a good father and husband with a great job. When I was growing up my parents knew someone who did this too. My mom alerted me to the fact that these people are out there. It doesn't matter whether you live in a neighborhood where the homes are close together or there is distance between them. These people are everywhere. *When this happened the wife was very upset and told me about it. That day the husband was bitten as he strangled the cat. That was when I told them they had better find out if the cat had his rabies shot. It gave all of them something to think about.
—Guest Whiskers

In and out

I have asked my cats and none of them want their door perminently locked. They come and go as they please between 7am and 10pm. They have all vaccinations available to them along with regular flea/tick treatments and worming. They visit their vet every year for a general check up. Sure we have the occasional fight with a stranger and the odd mouse delivery (dead or alive) My cats may be domesticated but they are still instinctively cats and want to do their own thing. I think the quality of life they get from their extended teritory and outside enviroment is worth the small risk involved. In 45 years of having cats I have lost one to Feline Aids and one to an RTA. my oldest cat reached th ripe old age of 23 years. Come on guys let your cats be cats. If they think outside is too dangerous they won't go.
—Guest Jacqui

Indoor Cats

Until almost a year ago, every cat I ever had was allowed to go outside whenever they pleased. Over the years, I've lost 2 cats to poisonings, 5 to predators (snakes, coyotes, other cats, dogs), and - most recently, in August 2010 - my beautiful cat Harry was hit by a car and had to be put down. All of these deaths could have been avoided had those cats been indoor cats. Harry's death was the straw that broke the camel's back (so to speak), but looking back, I have no idea why I didn't start keeping them in sooner. My remaining cats are still allowed to go out once or twice a day - supervised - and I plan on investing in one of those "catios" (enclosed outdoor space for cats) when I can. However, in my experience, I believe the risks involved with letting a cat roam freely outdoors outnumber the health benefits I've seen people claim can be obtained from it. By the way, my indoor cats are perfectly happy and healthy, and have plenty of toys inside that provide entertainment/exercise.
—Guest Sam

sad outdoor cat story

Many many years ago, i had a cat who thought he was a dog. He went outdoors all the time. He lost an eye to a racoon and then his life to a dog. Never again.
—Guest sb

In today's world, indoors for most cats!

I think most people overestimate a cat or dog's desire or need to be outside. After all, these are DOMESTICATED animals. They require human care and companionship for optimal thriving. There is a near epidemic where I live of lost cats , due to a number of factors, coyotes, cars and disease. Cats that are outside are responsible for millions of kittens every year, and also millions of birds being killed, which would not be an issue if humans were responsible for spay and neuter and basic care of their cats. I advocate outdoor enclosures to allow cats the sense of being "free" while protecting them from harm. I keep hearing, "MY cat wants to go outside so I have to let her" .well, who's the "adult" here? WE are their caretakers, would you let your kid play in the street just because they whined to do so? I know, not a completely fair analogy but you get the idea.

Live free or die

They say indoor cats live 12-17 years vs outdoor cats that live only 5-7 years because of misadventure. If we look at raccoons, skunks, groundhogs and coyotes they live only 3-4 years, so outdoor cats don't do too badly. Add to that the fact that indoor cats live most of thier lives bored stiff and the last 5 years in arthritic pain and other cruel age ailments and living a shorter outdoor life doesn't seem that bad. With shelters overflowing with cats, it's hardly wisdom to make cats live longer, because nobody will need new cats. Having said all this, after several years I lost my last cat to a coyote. I was angry and sad, but he loved his life and lived well. The coyotes have been removed now and I'm thinking of getting another cat. Truly, people have to weigh the realities of where they live to see if the risk is worth it. In a city outdoors is just not realistic. In a suburb where people know it's your cat it may be okay. Maine Coons are best for the country.
—Guest Freethecats

Safer Indoors for sure!

I've raised my Duchess since she was 1 day old. She has always been indoors. She is going on 10 years old and is very healthy. I just adopted my Romeo who is 2 years old. When he looked at me through that glass he was in I just had to get him. I think he was an outdoor cat before but with me he is an inside cat only just like my Duchess. Both get a long with each other and because of Romeo my Duchess gets more exercise now too which is great! I know that both Romeo and Duchess are very safe inside and I take them for their vacinations and vet care cause to me it's very important. I love my familiars very much!
—Guest Cat Lady

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