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Cats - indoor or outdoor?

post #1 of 313
Thread Starter 
I firmly believe that pet cats should be kept indoors. Cats allowed to roam the neighborhood are at risk for disease, car accidents, attack by other animals. In many communities the same leash law that applies to dogs also applies to cats - but is rarely enforced.

Roaming cats kill wild birds, soil gardens and sandboxes, even kill trees (this happened to our neighbors - the cat scratched on a young tree so much that it stripped bark all the way around, killing the tree. The cat owners bought a new tree, but it was much smaller than the one that died).

Many people believe that cats "have" to go outside - that they will be miserable if they don't. My question is this: if a cat is miserable being kept as a pet in a home, is it really a suitable pet? I don't believe in keeping wild animals as pets, even small ones (racoons, skunks, squirrels). If a cat cannot be kept in a home, or taught to walk on a leash, is it a domestic animal or a wild animal? If it is a wild animal, it should not be kept as a pet at all. And since cats are not indigenous to the US, they should not be allowed to run wild here - letting them go is not "returning" them to the wild, as one might

To me, a pet is a domestic animal, not a wild animal that happens to be kept in captivity. It has been bred for many generations to live with people. sometimes there might be rare individuals who are more like their wild ancestors - for example, a dog who is extremely aggressive or dominant - and those individuals are not suitable pets for most people. There might be cats in that category as well, who simply cannot tlerate living in a house with people. But I find it hard ot believe that MOST cats fall into this category.
post #2 of 313
when we had cats they were indoor only
post #3 of 313
I refuse to ever require a cat to spend 100% of it's time indoors. Period.
post #4 of 313
I live with three cats right now- two mine, one my mother's. We are in a very rural/suburban area, far from a main road. My mother's cat has been indoor/outdoor from a young age, and is about 10 yrs old now. He always stays on our property- I know this because we speak to the neighbors and because I am outside a lot. He is neutered, as are all of our animals, always. He never has any injuries or illnesses, he does kill small field mice, and once a squirrel. He is a very smart cat and IMO, is in zero danger of being hit by a car. I also believe that if this cat could talk, he would say he accepts all risks in order to go out and hunt, run, play outdoors. That may sound ridiculous but I know this cat and he would be miserable inside.

With that said, when I took my two cats in, I lived in the city. One of my cats is a very, very nervous guy- he wouldn't go outside if all doors and windows were left open for the next decade. But my female is very outgoing and uninhibited- I bring her outside on a harness because I don't trust her not to run away or get hurt. I don't "walk" her per se, as one walks a dog, but we sit outside on sunny days and she usually chooses to sniff around some bushes and then sit in my lap calmly. I think like humans, animals have different personalities. Some are ok being housecats, some have to be outside (and they should only be allowed to do so in rural areas IMO), and some like the leash/indoor combo. I do think people who have indoor cats should at least try to take them out on the leash/harness if possible where they live (not in Manhattan, obviously).
post #5 of 313
I had an indoor only cat recently. He was mean and would chase my 3 yo down, attack her feet until she fell over and then scratch her. He would attack my feet when I would walk through the room. He would sneak along the back of the couch and attack DH's head while he was working on his laptop. He scratched everyone & everything in sight and destroyed one of my favorite chairs. We tried everything-clipping his nails, special scratching posts, scratching pads, training, even aversive conditioning with double sided tape on the furniture & squirt bottles. Nothing worked. He would also spend a good portion of the day standing up to the sliding glass door and pawing at it like he was going to scratch his way out through the glass.

I gave him to my mom, who lets him go outside. She lives in the country and has five acres so its considerably safer for him than our suburban neighborhood. Lo and behold he doesn't scratch or attack people anymore, and she hasn't seen him scratch furniture. He's calm and lays around. He will actually lay on a person's lap and sleep, and let people pet him-something he never would have allowed us to do. It's a complete personality transformation and if I didn't know better I wouldn't believe its the same cat. He was "not a suitable pet" for us. For my mom he acts like a normal cat. He eats the same food, we have the same rules about cats being on the furniture, same cat litter, and about the same amount of space inside. The differences are a different group of people and the fact that he gets to go outside now whenever he wants.

I know if it's true for all cats, but this particular cat I think needed to go outside to be sane.
post #6 of 313
Indoor, always. The ONLY exception I make is for working cats, who are not pets and live in barns or other outbuildings on farms.

So, OP, I'm with you.
post #7 of 313
Quote:
Originally Posted by frog View Post
Indoor, always. The ONLY exception I make is for working cats, who are not pets and live in barns or other outbuildings on farms.

So, OP, I'm with you.

Me too, I've seen what happens to the cats who go outdoors in our neighborhood, and it's not pretty!
post #8 of 313
I haven't vaxed our cats since they were kittens, so they stay indoors. Always have. If we lived out in the country where they had forest to roam I'd vax them and let them out, but not in the city.
post #9 of 313
It's a no-brainer. Cats are not native species, they're incredibly efficient predators, they change the ecosystem and are a legitimate and growing threat to endangered species. Outside cats are the reason kids get roundworm from sandboxes, they spread disease, they breed like CRAZY, and they have drastically shortened lifespans. If you want to own one as a household pet, it needs to be inside.

I've told this story before--we have a nine-year-old cat who is eeeeeeeevil. She was a barn cat for several years and she does not do "well" as an inside cat. When we moved from an extremely rural area where she was an appropriate barn cat to a suburban area where we did not have an active barn, she became extremely aggressive and also peed everywhere. It took me three years, but I finally figured out that she cannot stand much physical contact. She needs to spend most of her day in quiet in order to tolerate people. So now she spends the day on our (enclosed, heated) porch and comes in in the evening. She is now cuddly, kind, and happy--and doesn't have fleas, ticks, worms, or any of the other things I had to constantly treat her for when she was a barn cat. So she was not actually unsuited to living indoors--I just wasn't meeting her needs. Once they were met, she became a normal pet.

We had outside cats growing up in a rural area. In the 30 years that I have been aware of my family's cats, exactly ONE has lived beyond the age of ten. The average lifespan of their cats has been 2-4.

In virtually all towns and cities, loose cats are ILLEGAL. You want to change your attitude real fast? Have your cat caught pooping in a neighbor's sandbox and they sue your homeowner's insurance for thousands of dollars in medical costs, or have your cat attack another and be stuck with personal responsibility for hundreds in vet bills. Your cat can also be legally trapped and taken to a shelter, where it will likely be euthanized.

Finally, MANY people are allergic to cat dander. Your cat could be making your neighbor sick, or your neighbor's child sick.

So, let's recap: It's illegal, dangerous, environmentally irresponsible, extremely risky for the cat, disease-causing, and it stirs up neighbor resentment. Like I said--no-brainer.
post #10 of 313
The best argument I have for keep cats inside comes from our cats themselves. Between my dp and I we have had 8 cats come into our lives and homes during the past 10 years (4 are still with us, 2 have died, 2 have found new homes). 7 of those cats have either been strays or shelter cats; we got 1 from a pet store (small, local store -- no mills). The only one of our cats who has ever shown any interest in going outside is the one who has never had to live outside. The other 7, who we know had to live outside or we suspect that they lived outside for a while, are completely and totally happy to stay indoors. I'll leave a door open, and they won't get near it.

Like I said, I think that this is the best indication that cats neither need nor even necessarily want to go outside.
post #11 of 313
I agree with you, OP.

I have had a few cats in my lifetime.

They have all been indoor pets.

I had one cat who was not very tame, but a huge sweetie. I think his previous owner had abused him, as well. He wanted to eat my pet birds, but we worked out a peaceful situation. I kept the little birds in a room with a solid door to prevent him from having to always curb his appetite. And he agreed he would try to think of them as family members, but he never could. He sometimes would sneak out (tear through window screens) and wouldn't come home for a couple days. I would be out looking for him, and he wouldn't come out of hiding until he was good and ready. One day, while moving, a family member left a back door open, and he got out. I searched high and low, put out flyers, talked to the new home owners who allowed me to leave a cat bed, food, litterbox in the back yard, but I never saw Topaz again. I'd like to think someone found him and took him in. He is an example of a cat who I wouldn't label as domestic.

I have two cats now. Sabrina is a 14 year old siamese and Teddy Bear is a 12 year old DSH, rescued from an animal shelter when he was 10 weeks old. They are both indoor only. In their younger days, I took them out on leashes, or even sat outside with them while they were hooked up by harnesses to the dog's overhead trolley tieout cable. They liked that. The mostly liked smelling the grass and soaking up the sun. They are quite happy as indoor cats, especially my siamese. After working with vets, I don't think any pet is safe roaming free. Between cars, wild animals and especially, humans and all their evils, I wouldn't allow my beloved pets to be left to fend for themselves for hours or days in such a dangerous world.


Oh, I have photos in my signature...
post #12 of 313
Quote:
Originally Posted by frog View Post
Indoor, always. The ONLY exception I make is for working cats, who are not pets and live in barns or other outbuildings on farms.

So, OP, I'm with you.
Quoting myself to clarify my experience with cats. Over the course of my childhood, we had one at a time (Tinkerbell went outside and died when he was way too young; Cricket stayed indoors and lived to 18 or 19). I had one cat with my first girlfriend (strictly indoors--to the best of my knowledge, she's alive and well and would be 14, now).

turtle and I share our home with seven cats (we had five, but a cousin died unexpectedly a few weeks ago so our pride grew--integration is going well! ). They are all indoor cats. At least four of them have spent time living outside--as a pp noted, those are the ones who have NO INTEREST in going outside, TYVM.
post #13 of 313
Quote:
Originally Posted by boadhagh View Post
The best argument I have for keep cats inside comes from our cats themselves. Between my dp and I we have had 8 cats come into our lives and homes during the past 10 years (4 are still with us, 2 have died, 2 have found new homes). 7 of those cats have either been strays or shelter cats; we got 1 from a pet store (small, local store -- no mills). The only one of our cats who has ever shown any interest in going outside is the one who has never had to live outside. The other 7, who we know had to live outside or we suspect that they lived outside for a while, are completely and totally happy to stay indoors. I'll leave a door open, and they won't get near it.

Like I said, I think that this is the best indication that cats neither need nor even necessarily want to go outside.
I am living this as the truth right now. I have one indoor cat who I've had as a kitten. She was born in the shelter, never went hungry a day in her life, has always been warm, and fed, and safe. Yet, this cat is frantic to get outside. I have to lock her up in the bathroom to put the dogs in or out, because she WILL run out the door before I can stop her (and man, she's quick!).

My other cat, who was trapped on our property along with 4 others, was emaciated, covered in bite wounds, skin infections, and fleas. I found the poor pitiful thing one night huddled under my daughter's wagon in a torrential tropical down poor. As I type she is happily snuggled up on the bed, all the doors are open (it's a nice cool day in south Florida, so I'm taking advantage of the fresh air instead of the AC), and Zuki is yelping from the laundry room where she's locked up so she can't escape.

Go figure.
post #14 of 313
Coyotes outside means our cats stay inside.
post #15 of 313
We live in a neighborhood with many, many birds and trees. We have three cats. We are long time members of the Audubon society. I let my cats out but after the birds have passed through. They come at certain times to eat and hang out. They are not out all day. So, when I see them I round up the cats and bring them in. If I see a cat hunting anything other than a bug, I shoo him inside. I let them out when there are no birds hanging around. I bring them at night time. Doing this, the are allowed outdoor time and we have not had any birds killed by them nor have they had any fights. The only bird that has been killed recently was by our dog in our backyard! It must have been sick to begin with otherwise how would a dog catch a bird! And, doing this, the cats have avoided fight injuries from other animals.

So, in principle, cats should be mostly indoors but it is possible to allow them outdoor time while still protecting the birds and other animals who linger in your yard. Cats do love outdoor time. Mine are out chasing bugs on the lawn right now!


And, I never leave them out when we are not home.

And my cats live long lives. They are currently 1, 1, and 8 but the one who most recently died was 17 years old. An indoor/outdoor cat his whole life.

And they are all fixed.
post #16 of 313
I believe cats should be indoors. The problem today is that mine bolts out the door the minute it opens. She scratches and bites and attacks our feet. I really want to be able to leave the door open with out fearing that she will escape.
Do you think this might calm down with age?
She just turned one on the 13th, so technically she's just now an adult.
post #17 of 313
It's very unnatural for an animal (human included - think of how YOU would enjoy being kept against your will indoors for your whole life) to be inside for it's entire life... all day, all night.

For those of you with strictly indoor animals, do you at least take them outside for a walk on a leash or in an outdoor run?? I understand your views on protection (for the cat & also for the birds, trees, etc) but not allowing them outside, ever, is cruel as well as unnatural.

If someone posted that they had an "indoor dog" & had it poo/pee in a box & never let it outside - even though it tried to make a run for ythe door every time it opened - people here would be up in arms about animal abuse, etc. I don't understand the difference. I'm not accusing animal abuse here, just would like to understand the difference b'c I don't see one.

Then again, some people also think that clipping a bird's wings & stuffing them into a cage is a nice life for the bird...
post #18 of 313
This is a hard issue for me, I believe that cats should be inside, unless they are barn cats, in the country, but as of right now, both my cats are outside.

My cat I grew up with was 14 years old when she was hit by a car in our driveway. She was indoor-outdoor her whole life.

Right now my husband and I have two cats, his cat who is 8 years old, and my cat who is 1. His cat used to be an outdoor cat but when we got married and moved to the city we insisted he become an indoor only cat. My cat was supposed to be an indoor only cat as well.

Both cats dart for the door whenever I open it. I can't leave my windows open, as we are on the second floor and they will tear the screen and try to jump out Same thing with the patio. It's miserable in the summer.

We were miserable, the cats were miserable. They darted out one day and we couldn't get them back in, but then the next week or so EVERYONE was happy indoors. About a week later they escaped again, played outside for a few hours then came back in happy as clams, so now they get to go outside when they want to.

So I guess I am a bit of a hypocrite, I let them out, and then worry until they come home again.

I do think cat owners need to make SURE their pets are impeccably healthy, fixed, treated for pests, checkups for roundworm and all the nasty things that cats carry around, ESPECIALLY if they are outdoors at all.
post #19 of 313
Thread Starter 
My Mom had a cat that was always indoors. So did my brother. His current cat likes to be outside with the rest of the family - on a harness and leash (on an overhead trolley). He is never outside by himself, or without his harness.

I wouldn't have a problem with a cat-sized dog living strictly indoors. I'll bet there are a lot of apartment dogs who are box or puppy-pad trained. As long as the dog gets adequate exercise, this doesn't strike me as cruel or abusive.

I live in North Dakota, and my MIL might go weeks without ever setting foot outside. Lots of people who live here only go outdoors in the winter to get from the house to the car to the store or to work - never for the "pleasure" of being outdoors.
post #20 of 313
Quote:
Originally Posted by number572 View Post
It's very unnatural for an animal (human included - think of how YOU would enjoy being kept against your will indoors for your whole life) to be inside for it's entire life... all day, all night.

For those of you with strictly indoor animals, do you at least take them outside for a walk on a leash or in an outdoor run?? I understand your views on protection (for the cat & also for the birds, trees, etc) but not allowing them outside, ever, is cruel as well as unnatural.

If someone posted that they had an "indoor dog" & had it poo/pee in a box & never let it outside - even though it tried to make a run for ythe door every time it opened - people here would be up in arms about animal abuse, etc. I don't understand the difference. I'm not accusing animal abuse here, just would like to understand the difference b'c I don't see one.

Then again, some people also think that clipping a bird's wings & stuffing them into a cage is a nice life for the bird...
So guinea pigs should go outside too? And rats? And ferrets? The fact is, we keep in animals that cannot be safely contained outdoors. If you're concerned about fresh air, you can build a beautiful cat enclosure and keep everybody safe and happy. Unfortunately, almost no "normal" fence keeps cats in; it must have a roof.

And no, a small dog exclusively litter-trained would not be abused, as long as the dog was getting enough exercise and stimulation. That's the way a huge number of dogs live in urban areas. I'd honestly rather have a dog given great opportunities inside than a dog who spends his life on a runner outdoors.

We have some very dedicated bird owners on the board, and I'm sure they'd object to the way you've described bird ownership. You can have an indoor bird with wonderful quality of life.

If we decide to own animals that are dependent on us for their lives, it is our sacred duty to keep them and other animals safe and give them good quality of life. If you are not willing to do that, or you have concluded that the proper way to keep the animal is not compatible with your convictions or your lifestyle, just don't own the animal. Don't say "I want to have a [cat/ferret/goat] but I refuse to keep it in a way that protects it and protects everyone around us."
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