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

Responses: 98


I have been on both sides of the indoor-outdoor controversy around cats, and I thoroughly understand and appreciate both points of view. After losing several cats to the outdoors from abscess infections, vehicle accidents, and my longest-lived cat to FIV contracted from cat fights, I had an epiphany, and changed my stance.

Have you experienced an epiphany that led to your decision to keep your cats indoors? Or have you decided after serious consideration, to all them unsupervised access to the outside?

Share your story in the provided form. Note: This form is not for debating, replying to others, or asking questions.


We live in a rural area and would be overrun with mice without working cats. Sure, I lose some, and it tears my heart out, but Ma Nature isn't really nice.
—Guest terrip


I too lost a cat to hit and run. I now have a 4month old kitten and only allow her outside on a leash. She does try to make a run for outside when door is opened.
—Guest Pal mate


I have always had mostly outdoor cats. Some indoor/outdoor ones as well. Disappearances were common in our rural setting. Coyotes or raptors were suspected. Before I got my current baby Phoebe I had a male (neutered) young cat. I wanted him to be an inside cat only. He would beg to go out and my husband would say, "Oh let him go out and run free for awhile.", I never liked the idea. When he didn't return one evening, we feared the worse and looked and called everywhere. One day or so later he saw our neighbors dog chewing on something. All that was left was our poor boy's head. I swore never again to let my cats down ever again. I knew the dangers but gave in against my intuition. I will never let my dear girl out. I have to be more interactive with her than any other cat I've had. She is easily bored. But that is worth the time to keep her safe from all the dangers mentioned in this column. It is absolutely our responsibility to them to know these dangers. I will forever feel guilty .
—Guest Phoebes nana

Hopefully Waiting

My 10 month old male tabby "Sawyer" ran out of the house 4 days ago. He was in heat for the 1st time. We have been calling for him and looking around the neighborhod. This is a very rural area. My question is..how long should I keep looking for him? I am heartbroken that he's missing, hopeful that he will come home on his own, but when does hope turn into reality that he's not coming back. I've had cats for over 50yrs. Death of a pet is traumatic enough, but calling for Sawyer over and over with no results rips at my heart daily.
—Guest Guest Terri

cats indoor and outdoor

my cats have a routine they go out at 8.oclock on a morning.they have a cat flap so they can come and go all day.6oclock afternoon the cat flap is locked and they are in for the night.
—Guest janice

health and money issues...

I rescued my cat Nicky after he had been returned three times. Each for being beat on by others cats in his new homes. He is a huge 20lb supremely healthy cat. I live where there are a huge amount of feral cats, a lot of foliage that breeds ticks and the chances for earmites as well. Nicky seems pretty happy with his windows but I am looking for A good walking harness to satisfy his curiosity with the area. I just don't want to allow him unsupervised access to the cars and human elements as well as the feral and insects here. We live in AZ and about half the year even the strays don't want to stay outside. It bakes at around 115F around the worst times. I think I have found a good balance. Now to find a good harness....
—Guest annette spence

Changes made decisions

Having been a cat owner for many many years - I too had cats that would be both indoor/outdoor ones. Where I lived - I was very aware of the wildlife - so at night my cats were indoors no matter what. When one lot of cats passed away and 2 were subsequently stolen, and new ones came on board it slowly changed - and for very good reason. My now old mog - who was an indoor/outdoor cat - went missing for over a day and when he surfaced it was with a broken leg after being hit by a car. Once mended - he still wanted to be outdoors - but that got very quickly curtailed when he arrived home one day with his side completely shaved - like someone was going to operate!! Consequently from that day on none of my cats have been outside cats by choice - they do go outside but it is very much under supervision as the road I now live on - they wouldn't survive 5 minutes out there...
—Guest Sue

Indoors for me

My lovely little kitty just lives watching the outside world, but open the door and he'll sit a foot away from the door step and keep watching! He's obviously interested but ive decided I'm only going to let him out with my supervision, so I bought him a leash and he loves it! Best of both worlds and makes it much easier to keep him fit and healthy. :)
—Guest Chloe

our relationship with cats

People keep cats for various reasons. We have a very nice unaided male very-outgoing cat of over 3 years, and we just moved. He's stayed indoors now for a fortnight, and hasn't really indicated that he wanted to go outside. Although he now wakes us for various reasons in the night, my wife would prefer him for cosyness indoors. But we're certainly not going to keep him inside for our sake. Most of the reasons to keep a cat indoors all the time, seem to be rather selfish, not that I'm saying that we're not allowed to be selfish, given that we feed the cat 'n' all. Also, as much as most of us like to live sheltered lives, that doesn't mean that cats should (like to) too. As much as we like to protect our loved-ones, we cannot always do that. As long as they know that they can find shelter at home, I have no objection of them going outdoors when they want to. Of course, things might change if an angry neighbor comes complaining, but we've been lucky so far.
—Guest Marc


I have a male Maine coon and a little girl British blue Dexter the Maine coon would love to Rome free he is a escape artist as soon as he hears Doors or windows open he will try and make a Run for it I live in the city so it would be unsafe outside I built a cat enclosure on my balcony with A little cat house so I put them in there And sit on the roof of the little cat house and watch the birds bees and the world go by Safe and happy in the fresh air
—Guest Sharon Leiser

Take the Outside to Your Cat

I have only indoor cats and have for years after losing a couple of cats to cars and predators. If you have a cat that refuses to stay inside because you rescued him from an outside situation or you want to give your cat the pleasures of the outside, i.e., mental stimulation then built a safe cat enclosure. There are lots of great plans accessible on the internet. Letting a cat outside to roam free is exposing him/her to multiple dangers and willl shorten his/her life significantly.
—Guest Bigrivercoon

Indoor Prisons 2

i agree with tomcat43. cats get stimulation and exercise outside that they don't get inside. i have 2 cats. i've had indoor and indoor/outdoor. i also have fostered kittens for 3 years.
—Guest Amanda

indoor best

well i had to cats die last year, one age 6 and one 3, both of them where mark free. i was devastated and now my cat elmo's been missing since wed the 21st dec. i love my animals and sorely miss them when they die. my youngest is 2 and profoundly deaf. i keep him inside, i have let him out in the summer but my heart was in my mouth the whole time and i could'nt relax. i just wanted to check i was'nt being cruel to him. i bought a harness but he was able to get out of it so i'm looking for a coat one for him. thanks for all the advice.
—Guest mary

Indoor and leashed outdoor

Our two kitties are strictly indoor and only outdoor on a leash. They are perfectly happy and active. Up til the age of five weeks they had never seen inside a house before! And they were distressed from this. Now they like to just sit by the screened window and smell the outdoors and watch the scene. They don't go for many leashed walks because of the dog population here. But provided a nice cat tree home, quality food, and a screened window, our kitties are very happy kitties. (I think if it were only one kitty things would be different.)
—Guest Anna

in door /out door

Five years ago we adopted a 6 weeks old feral kitty we found in the bushes outside our door. This cat, from day one,made it clear he was never going to be happy locked up in the house. We are fortunate to live on a walled compound with little traffic so he does go out for a short time most every morning.On the days he must stay in,he gets very depressed. I mean very depressed. It worries me every time he goes out and I stay around to make sure he gets in.still..I know something could happen to him as I have seen many cats here injured,poisoned, etc. However,the way I see it is, my cat needs to be happy and content. If keeping him totally locked in makes him so very depressed, he could become stressed and get sick. He loves his safe home but he was born out doors and needs to get out.The cat, the situation,the environment should all be taken into account. If I lived elsewhere with busy streets and strangers around, I would not let him out.
—Guest Heidi Waite

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