1. Home
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

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

Responses: 144


A bit of both

Our gorgeous boys get the best of both worlds. After they've had breakfast and whilst we're getting ready for work, we let them out the back for a bit of a run around - we have a high fence they haven't been able to scale yet! And then when we get home and while it's still light, we let them out until dinner time. I would just hate for them to get hit by a car or beaten up by the neighbourhood bully cat who lives next door, and I figure with two of them, they can play together inside during the day - although I think they might sleep most of the day! We always take time out of the day to play with them too. So I think whatever works for you and your fur kids and do whatever you are most comfortable with.
—Guest Lozat

OMG - I never thought about THAT!

I have always been firmly of the 'let them choose to be in or out/they shouldn't be confined' opinion. But I live in a country where there are no natural predators of cats other than humans and the odd mean dog. I never thought about what I'd do if I lived in a country with birds of prey and large predatory animals like bears, coyote and the like. If I lived in one of those places I would definitely keep my cats inside! The thought of one of my boys being carried off in the clutches of a wild animal is horrifying! Thanks for providing a different point of view!!
—Guest Sandy

I have indoor and outdoor cats

Basically I let the cat choose..does that sound irresponsible? I hope not. I have 3 indoor cats and 5 who live indoors and trip out to the garden for a quick run out or who sit in the fresh air on my patio but they never go anywhere else by choice and I have 3 cats who set off when they go out and could maybe draw you a sketch map of the neighbourhood, they know it so well. Yes the outdoor cats are at risk of cat fights, being run over, but I feel it is my responsibility to give them the best life on earth that I can & that may involve calculated minimal risk. (We live surrounded by fields)Our own lives involve some risk (we wouldn't like it if we were made to stay home indoors 'incase' we walked under a bus or were in a car accident so I look at my cats lives the same way). Having said that I have cats that have no desire at all to go out and they don't. They are happy looking out and really do not wish to go out. It's a cat's life here, the cats choose for themselves!!

Indoor Prisons....

Too many people evaluate this argument from their own anthropomorphic perspectives. Cats are not domestic houseguests like dogs. They are wild animals with keen senses. Some are thousands of times more acute than our own. Keeping them inside is surely safer, but so would it be for you, if you stayed inside too! Cats need to be free. They are not on earth merely to live their lives to please people. They share their lives with you, because they choose too. What person wouldn't rather live the next 30-40 years free than spend 60 more in prison. Think about it. Would you like to stay in your house for the rest of your life? And you can't even imagine the abilities and sensory experiences you would deprive your cat of, if he or she were imprisoned by you, who claim to love him or her. Instead teach your cat to fear cars, dogs, and weird people (the hardest). remember, we all take chances in life. I have had three old indoor-outdoor cats, all trained by habit to stay in at night.


I grew up in a neighborhood that changed over the years. When I was a child, cats were always let outdoors. But with all the development in the meadowlands nearby, a lot of raccoons visited the neighborhood. My last cat was attacked by one and had to be put to sleep. The two cats I have now are strictly indoor cats. They have a great time playing together and sitting in the windowsill checking out the birds and squirrels. They're lot more even tempered as well. Cleaning up after them is more work but knowing that they are safer makes me feel like a more responsible pet owner.

I Need Barn Cats

We live out in the country and have a stable with horses. I need my "Barn Kitties" to help control the mice and rats that try to get into the grain bins. People drop cats off without a care to their safety all the time. When they do that, the kitties are wild and scared and sometimes untameable. I make sure they have food, fresh water and shelter. In turn they reward me with their catches. Just wish they wouldn't leave them on the door step. Oh, Well, at least I know they are taking care the mice population that I need them to do.
—Guest JJ

Outdoor/in door

Had saved a one week old kitten from the estate. one sunday afternoon let it out to play and other neighbor hood cats carried it away
—Guest Tina

Some Images Never Go Away

My cat, Harley, was hit by a car and killed on July 6th. We had just moved to a subdivision and had purchased a fence made especially for cats. However, my little Harley was an escape artist and he found a way out. My other 4 cats were content to stay on our deck and on the grass but Harley thought the grass looked greener on the other side. My neighbor knocked on my door and asked if I had a cat. My heart dropped into my stomach and I knew something terrible had happened. Another neighbor had moved Harley from where he had been hit and layed him on the side of the road. I was the one to pick up his little broken and bleeding body and bring him home. It is a memory I will never forget for the rest of my life. While I agree that many cats really like being indoors, I also think that we are more intelligent and we owe the cats in our lives the opportunity to live in a safe environment. There are numerous ways to entertain indoor cats, it just takes a little effort and time.
—Guest yxstu


I have two acres on a relatively quiet street. I started letting one cat out because he was simply happier out there - a problem child not comfortable with other cats indoors and showing it in very destructive ways. He seemed to thrive out there; his weight was controlled and he got stronger and more beautiful - and he was hit by a car and killed instantly. That made me rethink the issue. I kept in mind how happy and beautiful he had been and now let my other cats out when I'm home. With them also, being able to run and play so much more actively has helped keep their weight in check and made them strong and very happy. This isn't an easy decision. I do live in fear of something happening to my little friends, but feel they are happier with that bit of freedom. I make sure they are wormed periodically, have protection against fleas and ticks, and see a vet regularly. With luck they will continue to be happy for very long lives.
—Guest Mom to many

In or out depends on . . .

Whether your cat stays in or goes out is usually decided by the cat. We have five cats, live in the country where we have lost them to the local wildlife. The last to die was bitten by the copperhead he brought home and dropped in the kitchen. Another was seen in the clutches of an eagle. Cats come and go. Of our current cats, one likes to stay inside and two like to be outside a bit, while two are definitely outside cats that would rather die than be confined. All came to us as trays and we love them and care for them, but we allow them to choose too. This can't be done in a deep city apartment, can it? Unless your cat is like those New York hotel cats who have the run of the place and are free to wander everywhere--everywhere but outside that is. Being confined to a house and let out only in custody is a bit like jail isn't it? I couldn't take jail, could you? I suppose if there were no other choices . . . What's your cat charged with? Did she get Life without parol?
—Guest John

Indoor. Period.

My wife and I have two cats. One is a big 22-pound Ragdoll named Kalhua, and our little 3.5 pound dilute tortie kitten, Emma. Both have been kept indoors since they were born, and are very happy that way. Sometimes we would stand by the opened front door to see if they wanted to go outside, and Kalhua showed no interest, and Emma simply started outside without taking one step in that direction. One day, when I was 21, I pulled into my driveway at home to find 3 boys about 13 years old chasing my elderly cat who had somehow gotten out. One of them had a garbage bag in his hand, and they all had stupid, menacing looks on their faces. Those looks soon turned to fear when they turned around and saw me coming at them. I didn't hurt the little punks, but they were convinced I was going to. I've been firmly on the "Indoor-only" side of this debate since. It really helps if you raise them inside from the time they are kittens.
—Guest Ryan

Indoors for my BFFs (Best Furry Friends)

After my 9-yr-old daughter & I watched helplessly from about 20ft away as a hawk swooped down, grabbed & soared away with our sweet boy Midnight, I swore never to put our pets at risk that way again. Unless they are trained from infancy by their mothers to learn the risks, the dangers, the enemies on the ground, in the water and in the air, they will never be prepared to go outdoors and survive. We can't teach them these skills, nor can they learn them on their own quickly enough to survive. They'll immediately be preyed upon by animals that move with well-honed skills in lightning fast strikes. Those who say they let their cats decide on whether to go outdoors can't seriously believe their pets are capable of considering the dangers and weighing their ability or lack thereof to fight off an attacker, and then reaching a logical decision. PUH-LEEZ! Letting them out is like tossing your infant or toddler into a pool & saying, "Have fun! Swim, Honey."

Indoor Only

After growing up with indoor/outdoor cats and watching them one by one not come home due to being coyote food, as an adult I will only ever have indoor cats. My cats will never go outside unless they are securely crated. I would not be able to live with myself if something happened to one of my babies. I believe that if you provide a stimulating indoor environment the cats have no need or want to go outside. My kitties have tons of toys and hiding spots, we have 3 cat trees and we do several interactive play sessions a day as well as clicker training. Both of my babies are very content inside.
—Guest Lauren

Been there, but never again.

I had an indoor/outdoor cat, Mario Lopez though predominantly outdoor cat. He had been in a fight/attacked before and almost died but we continued to let him roam the great outdoors during the days after he had healed. When he was three Mario just suddenly stopped coming home. I think the not knowing is what makes it the hardest. Feeling so helpless about the outcome of our beloved family member made it really hard to get over. The next time i got a cat i decided i would never let a cat of mine just roam freely unsupervised. I cannot go through the "missing Cat" scenario again. It is just too hard emotionally.

Learned your lessons

1 year old Mitsy got hit at 10am on Memorial Day in 2002. My 2nd 1-year old,Treble, got hit at 9:30pm a week before Memorial Day May 20 2010. We tried very hard to keep them in but they begged and begged to go out or escaped. They loved outdoor, climbing trees and chasing after squirrels. but they never kill any creatures. When I read the outdoor cats have an average life span of 3-7 years while the indoor cats 15-20 years, and that they don't need special physical exercise outdoorto prolong their lifespan as long as we feed them healthy. I read about training baby kittens using leash while outside. I wished I had read the article before Treble was killed. In both cases, we took our injured kittens to vets (ER), nope, Mitsy died of lungs collapse and Treble, had to put down due to clots in his heart which was paralyzing him. We were heart broken for they did everything with us. My resolution is Got them in pairs and keep them indoors. Out with leash only Construct backyard cat enclosur
—Guest Hannah

Share your decision

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

Receive a one-time notification when your response is published.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.