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

Responses: 144


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

Mostly indoor, outdoors only with enclos

My two, 3 year old cats were declawed by their previous owners, so they have to stay indoors unless safely contained in an outdoor enclosure. But even if their claws were left intact, I would probably still only let them outdoors if contained because my house is butted against a hill where I have seen numerous coyotes, hawks, skunks, snakes, and even turkey vultures. Not to mention the fact that just beyond my neighborhood is a very busy, two lane street!
—Guest Kimberly

outdoor gone indoor

My cat had practically grown up outside before I got him and was always street smart, so I did not see the harm in letting him out as long as we were in an area w/ low traffic and no major animal problems. Eventually, we moved to a rural area that had a few cats running around, but nothing major. Eventually, 3 strays decided to hang around the property. I assume at least 1 was female as they would yowl at night, fight amongst themselves, and spray the house. My cat avoided them as much as possible but would not hesitate to stand his ground when pushed. The result was a major flea infestation despite my best efforts, worms, and ear mites. If that wasn't enough, one day he came home w/ an abscess and overnight was ready to burst. For 2 weeks 3x daily I had to hold him down and use a Qtip to disinfect the wound and keep it open to let it drain. His pain and discomfort, as well as what could have happened, was just not worth letting him out and has since been content to stay inside
—Guest dianafaye

Outdoors, not always as bad as you think

I have read your article and understand you feel indoors is always safer, and your right. It is clearly safer, but can damage your cats health and well-being. My cat Shakira has been going outside whenever she wants since she was a kitten. Whenever she wanted outside/inside she would stand on the windowsil beside the door to let us know. I'm no expert but I would say she is extremely healthy and eats wild animals and cat food. She must be pretty clever and quick if she has been spending time outside for 10 years, and she still looks like shes only 30 years old as a cat. I think keeping your cat inside can make them sad and damage their health, because they don't have much space to run around and if all their eating is canned and bagged cat food they can get overweight and unhealthy. I live in the bush and I have almost no hesitation in letting my cat outside because she has proven she can survive, but I guess it's just luck she hasn't got picked off by a dog or other predator.
—Guest Roy Crippen

Supervised at all Times

Our first cat was taken in as a stray from the neighborhood. I didn't feel it was right to keep him indoors when he was used to being outside, so he was allowed to roam. After he came home one night with a bloody ear and extremely frightened, we decided it was time to leash-train him. As anyone with a cat knows, walking a cat is not the same as walking a dog. I know many people would laugh and say it was ridiculous to spend 20 minutes in one spot while your cat watched nature. After time, I actually started to find it relaxing. If you really take the time and look at things from their viewpoint, it gives you a renewed appreciation of nature. You get time to think about your day and solve life's problems. Best of all, watching their fuzzy little faces as they take it all in makes it worthwhile. Who knew a slug could be so entertaining?

New Cat Owner - Indoor/Outdoor

I've never had a cat but have always been curious to own one. We adopted an abandoned kitten last summer and she stayed inside for the first couple of months. She's a very skittish cat that doesn't really like to be held by anyone so the first time I put her outdoors I had to literally carry her outside. I live on an acre of land in a tiny neighborhood of 10 houses each of which is on at least an acre with about 100 acres of woods and farmland adjacent. I have a small brook running through my yard that she LOVES to investigate. Every winter I get field mice in my garage and basement, so I'm hoping she'll earn her keep. I also have a large collie dog that keeps away predators. He's on an invisible fence and I could get a collar for the cat but she really doesn't venture too much beyond the brook and the immediate vicinity. She's only 6 months old so hasn't killed anything yet, but she clearly likes being outside for playing. I don't see much of a problem, life itself is a risk.
—Guest Shamrock

Often Overlooked

There are other humans besides crazy serial killers or cat-haters that may end up inadvertently killing your indoor-outdoor cat. While I was away at college, a cat started showing up in my parent's suburban backyard. This cat was apparently very sweet, and my parents (especially my mother) really loved her, but we already had a psychotic cat that hated other cats. They were worried that she was not being taken care of, especially since it was approaching 110 degree temperatures in June. Soon, they had to leave for a week-long vacation and didn’t know what to do with the cat since they weren’t sure she was being fed by anyone else. They ended up taking her to a local nonprofit animal shelter. When my mother called a week later to inquire about her status, she was informed that the cat had been euthanized due to behavior. The moral of this story is: If you must go Indoor-Outdoor, equip your cat with proper identification. Also I hate it when your cat poops in my garden.
—Guest Ali

Cats as Hunters

I inherited an outdoor cat when my son left home. She had been a barn cat and I never tried to force her to be an indoor cat. I am not particularly fond of cats but I gave her a home. She was small and I did not think she was much of a threat to wildlife. Once day she had a very young baby bunny with no fur and eyes still shut. She was just batting it around. I had no idea what to do so I put it out of it's misery and it haunts me to this day. The cat is gone and I will never subject the wildlife to these hunters again. Wild bird populations are in trouble all over the world and listed among the top ten reasons for mortality - cats. I feed the birds and garden for the wildlife and have to chase cats away on occasion. I feel they should be kept home! They are well fed and they are hunting for the joy of killing.

Keeping cats indoors

I also lost my cat a couple of years ago as he was an indoor / outdoor cat and had not litter box inside so I was not aware of the pain he was suffering trying to go to the toilet! This time round, my cat will be an indoor cat to make sure I don't have the same fate.
—Guest Membername

Inside is the best bet

I've read several responces regarding whether or not you should let your cat outside or choose to leave them in the house.. I'm still firm with my decision about them living inside, with again the exception of running around on my very large screened in back porch. My yard backs up to a conservation area and there are raccoons, deer, bobcats, wild boar, and we must not forget the beautiful hawks that perch themselves on the trees. I love my cats like I love my kid and want them to live long and healthy lives... It's proven that indoor cats live longer than outdoor ones do.. My oldest is 13 and I want her around for 10 more plus if possible. To let a cat choose, well.. I won't argue with anyone, but.. I hate it when I'm driving and I see a dead cat or dog in the road. Or one that hasn't been fixed and from one makes 15.. There are also cruel people who take pleasure with hurting animals also, so why give them the opportunity. It's our responcibility not only to them but to society..
—Guest Catcrazy

indoor/outside cat

i have had both my cats for 5 yrs,they our both male ans declawed and nuetered,while the weather i s warm here i do let them out they stay very closer to the fornt door or back door whern ever i go out to gardening they come with me they will actually follow me around the block when i go for walking i think cats should have the benefits of both the life we live outside lets them see do many things ,but always keep a eyeball on them if your doesnot come to you when you call hid or her name take the out side slow, thanks jcat
—Guest jane cat

indoor or outdoor

indoor, or out on a screened in porch. Studies show that they live longer, healthier lives if they are inside.. I have 9, all inside with the exception of when I'm home and they are allowed to hang out on my huge screened in porch.
—Guest Catcrazy

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