outdoor kitties - your opinion - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-24-2011, 03:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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i need help understanding this. 

 

why would you not allow or like outdoor kitties?

 

is it mainly for safety and using the garden as a giant litter box?

 

i live in a real quiet neighborhood. its a dead end. we have a huge backyard and our kitty loves hanging out in the backyard. she stays in our yard. we are surrounded by dogs.

 

she likes just going out for a bit. i leave the door open she goes out and then comes back. she does not go into anyone elses backyard. she is out in the front only if we are out there. 

 

we live in a court within a court. so except for 4 families there are no other cars coming in (out of that 2 dont drive). 

 

this is a high energy one year old curioius kitty. she loves climbing trees and just sitting there. more than half the time we are out with her.she goes crazy inside running all over the place. we now leave doors open so she has the space to run. 

 

i call her our dog in cats clothing. she likes being around us. and if i call her - and she has a million names - she comes running in. 

 

she is never outside when we are not home.

 

would u still keep her indoors. what am i missing here?


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Old 02-24-2011, 05:50 AM
 
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In your situation, I don't personally see anything wrong as long she stays close to home. 

 

I keep my kitties inside because we live near a busy street. We also live near a forested area and there's many wild foxes around, so that concerns me too. There's also a part of me that's paranoid they'll run away or get lost.


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Old 02-24-2011, 05:52 AM
 
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Outdoor cats kill an insane number of songbirds and small mammals! Even if you don't see your cat catching birds, she likely is. Native songbird populations have so much against them already with development, habitat loss and other invasive species and outdoor cats are an awful threat to them. Seriously, cats kill BILLIONS of birds a year.

As a wildlife biologist, that's the main reason I am against outdoor cats. That having been said, there are also just too many safety risks to me to letting my cats go outside. Just because she usually stays right in the yard and there are usually no cars or dogs, that doesn't mean that she'll never run away or get hit by a car or attacked by a stray dog (or coyote or hawk or something).

The only way I'd feel comfortable letting a cat outside would be on a leash under my constant supervision. I value wildlife...any my cats life...too much to do otherwise.


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Old 02-24-2011, 06:13 AM
 
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Indoor cats have a much longer lifespan than outdoor cats. 

 

In addition, cats will roam, and I don't feel like I should inflict my cats on my neighbors.

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Old 02-24-2011, 06:40 AM
 
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Moving this to Pets.

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Old 02-24-2011, 07:07 AM
 
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My cats go outside -- our one cat Clover will peek out the back door and that's about it. She has no interest in tree climbing or running around and is content to play with us humans here in the house. My other cat Ginger loves to sun in the yard and climb our little peach tree and so we let her...


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Old 02-24-2011, 07:11 AM
 
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When I lived in NM, the average life expectancy of an outdoor or indoor/outdoor cat was 2-3 years.  My friends had their cat's collar returned to them from some hikers that found it near a coyote den.  Our cat likes outside too so we bought a leash and take him out when its nice. No birds endangered because he is on a leash. I have seen picts of people building outside enclosures for their cats that come off of windows. They are outside when they want to be but can't get very far.

 

I would say in your situation, its probably not a bad idea but you are FAR more likely for your kittie to get ticks and fleas which he will bring in.  So use preventative measures for that.

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Old 02-24-2011, 07:16 AM
 
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I don't have the heart for outside cats.  Watched a neighborhood one get killed by a dog a couple of years back.  That said- if I had a kitty who would stay close, I would be okay with them going out in my yard WHILE I was out with them.  

 

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Old 02-24-2011, 07:31 AM
 
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We had a stray cat adopt us, so he is now an indoor/outdoor cat. He lived outdoors prior to us bringing him in this winter, he is miserable if he doesn't go out. He does roam, which I don't like, but he also keeps the mouse population down, which I appreciate.

We have another cat, a male, who loves to go out and we allow him to, but he doesn't cross the street.

 

Our one male won't use the outdoors as he litterbox, but the stray will, just because that is what he got used to, but he doesn't seem to do it as often. I try to keep both cats in our yard but sometimes they visit the neighbors cats.


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Old 02-24-2011, 07:35 AM
 
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My personal opinion is that cats should be allowed to get outside and breath the fresh air, feel the sun the sun on their back and climb trees to be mentally and physically healthy.

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Old 02-24-2011, 07:49 AM
 
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I hate outdoor cats. They ravage bird populations (and as a PP said native birds don't need additional evironmental factors stacked against them), poop and pee in people's yards, spray, get in fights, get killed, and frankly are a huge nuisance.

 

I keep my cat indoors where he belongs. And I actively discourage strange cats in my yard because I have many birdfeeders.

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Old 02-24-2011, 08:01 AM
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Relatively speaking, birds are difficult to catch, even for cats. Cats are "designed" (for lack of a better word) to focus the eye on an animal that runs horizontally. Catching something that moves vertically is much harder, meaning that a good number of the birds that cats catch are weak or sick. The biggest threat to songbirds are human beings, because we destroy habitats and pollute our environments.

 

My cats are indoor because we live in the city and I don't want them to get squished by a car. I have owned indoor/outdoor cats in the past when we lived in a more rural setting. Cats who are neutered/spayed roam less, and are far less likely to spray or fight.

 

As for fleas and ticks, I might also mention to watch out for mosquitoes. My 14yo, strictly indoor cat somehow managed to be bitten by a heartworm-infested mosquito. There is no cure for cats with heartworm.

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Old 02-24-2011, 09:08 AM
 
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On the one hand I don't think any animal as intelligent as a cat can feel totally satisfied never, ever, EVER seeing the outside of a house. I can't imagine a dog living like that, or any highly developed mammal.

 

But on the other hand my two cats never go outside! It is easy to dog proof a yard but trying to cat proof it? That is a whole other issue. We live on a very busy corner. The yard next door has a cat-eating dog in it! And even though I leash trained both my cats, I don't think either of us ever enjoyed leashed outside time all that much.

 

Last night my cat got outside through a window. Within ten minutes I heard a cat screaming in the yard and ran outside to find my cat huddled in a corner and another cat and slashed her nose bloody!!

 

So that is another issue. It is doubtful my DOG would discover a strange DOG inside our fenced yard. But my cat immediately attracts the attention of the many cats that run loose. She is defenseless and has no idea how to protect herself and was injured that fast!


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Old 02-24-2011, 09:30 AM
 
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I have 4 cats.  If they were 100% indoor I would go insane, and so would they.  They sometimes get worms, and leave dead mice/birds on my patio, but I find less dead things if I make sure they all come in before dark.  I would never own another cat because it was a big struggle to decide to allow them outdoors and I don't like worrying if they are going to get hurt out there or not.  I decided letting them out still the best choice for us.


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Old 02-24-2011, 09:32 AM
 
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I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the additional health risks of outdoor cats, particularly parasites, infectious diseases like FIV, even minor injuries getting infected, fights with other cats, etc. I see absolutely zero reason why I should expose my cat to those risks. We open the windows for fresh air and get tons of natural sunlight, and we've even still had more than one catfight through screen doors, so it's not as if indoor cats NEVER get fresh air or sun on their backs.

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Old 02-24-2011, 09:44 AM
 
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I don't think anyone is suggesting that cat never be allowed outdoors - several suggested having a cat outside on a leash with its people, or in a safe enclosure. The objection to outdoor cats is those that are left alone outside unsupervised (and no, glancing out the window once in a while is no more supervision for a cat than it is for a toddler).

 

Most people don't realize (or don't care) that the same leash laws that apply to dogs also apply to cats, so letting your cat out without supervision is against the law.


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Old 02-24-2011, 10:54 AM
 
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I keep my cat indoors because she is protected from random dogs, mean or bored people, infectious diseases, cat fights, and it is has been proved indoor cats live longer lives.  

While we live on acreage in a neighborhood where everyone else does and most people have fences, yet I still have cats pooping in flower beds, peeing in our vegetables before we had to get a cat safe fence just to keep these cats out, spraying my yard with their urine to mark their territory, fighting each other, and teasing my dogs all the time.   These are people's pets for sure.  In the past there was one neighbor who killed any cat who got into their yard, that individual was done with them polluting the vegetable garden. 

I have no problems with people who want to keep cats as pets, but I do have a problem when they let them become personal property of everyone and don't keep them securely on their own property.  If your cat is supervised when outdoors but not on a harness and leash of any kind, I would invest in a cat safe fence and make sure she stays that way. http://www.purrfectfence.com/

It is more than being a responsible cat owner and neighbor because if dogs surround you, her darting off to explore further could result in death. 


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Old 02-24-2011, 10:57 AM
 
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Although I don't personally have a problem with outdoor cats, I understand why others do, as long as the objection doesn't border on hatred or violence or complete irrationality.  Growing up our cats were always indoor/outdoor cats, mostly because my step-father was allergic to cats, so having them outside even just a little bit helped him.  Those cats did bring back all sorts of dead things, like moles, squirrels, snakes, rabbits, even bats.  Birds were very very rare, and she always showed off her most recent catch.

 

There are a lot of outdoor cats in my neighborhood (quiet dead-end street.  In fact, all the streets in this area are dead-end) and I don't mind them prowling around at all. Our cat, however, is an indoor only cat, although she accidentally got out the other day for the first time (since we adopted her, she was a stray before) and gallivanted around with another cat for a couple hours.  The kids were beside themselves with grief and worry, and that's not something that I want to bring upon myself whenever she's out of the house.  So she stays in.  I am just terrified that she will get hit by a car, taken in by someone else, or trapped and sent to the shelter.  Not that people who let their cats out don't love their cats as much as I love mine.  Not at all, just that that is how my anxiety over her welfare manifests itself.  She also doesn't wear a collar with identification because she is a mouser too.  We're hoping to get her chipped soon, but that won't really help if someone takes her in after finding her outside.  She isn't a dash-for-the-door type cat anyway, so keeping her in is usually pretty easy (unless DH stupidly leaves the door open for an extended period of time LOL)  I wish I weren't so anxious over letting her out, because I think that cats need fresh air and sunshine.

 

I also think that even if an outdoor sandbox was totally cat-poop free, it would still be really gross.  They just ick me out.

 

I don't think that cats are domesticated to the same degree as dogs, so I don't buy the equivalence.  Cats and dogs are just different.


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Old 02-24-2011, 11:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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hmm you know i hear the longer life.

 

and that's the part that tears me up.

 

i have grown up with cats all my life and i seem to get cats except just one that loves to go outside. some of them have indeed died an early death. some have lived long lives. 

 

and i am so torn about our latest.

 

because it seems to me - of course i am looking at it from a human perspective, that many of them want freedom, even if it comes at a cost. esp. some of my cats who have died untimely they were MISERABLE if left indoors. they'd actually get depressed. 

 

and so it becomes an ethical decision. for me. is a long kinda miserable life better than a short happy one. it becomes more so because of teh no kill shelter where i volunteer. there are some who are absolute runners. i understand the shelter keeps them in their pens and not letting them out becuase of disease, infections. but there are some who are constant runners no matter how old they are (unless v. old) or how long they have been at the shelter. 


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Old 02-24-2011, 11:32 AM
 
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I think it's cruel to keep indoor only cats.

 

We've always had indoor/outdoor cats. Two died at 24yo and 21yo. My oldest now is 19yo.

 

Cats are designed to be outside and roam.

 

Also, the bird thing? My cats always bring home anything they kill and we've had a few rats, a couple of birds and lots of cicadas. Never any native birds. That's over a 20 year span. Generally the cats may stalk birds but they don't really try and catch them with any enthusiasm and most often play with grass blowing in the wind.


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Old 02-24-2011, 11:52 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nd_deadhead View Post

Most people don't realize (or don't care) that the same leash laws that apply to dogs also apply to cats, so letting your cat out without supervision is against the law.



Leash laws are a joke in my town, so are laws against riding ATV's and snowmobiles thru the streets and parking semi trucks on your lawn, or if u are lucky like me people might park their truck on your lawn.  At first I was concerned about people around me finding my cats a problem, but at this point I really don't care.  I would reconsider if we lived in civilization.


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Old 02-24-2011, 12:42 PM
 
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I think it completely depends on where you live and your cat's personality.  I live in a big, busy, unsafe city.  I would never let my pets outside to roam.  We used to take them in the yard for a while and then ended up with a gigantic flea infestation and a lost cat for days.  Thank god he was okay. 

 

I see cats that have been run over by cars on the streets all the time.  It breaks my heart.  A good friend is the director of a no-kill cat shelter and constantly preaches about the perils of letting your cat outside in this type of environment. Illness is rampant, fights are common and the streets are just so busy.  Although house cats are 'meant' to be outside animals, I believe that we as humans have to do what we can to protect them from the evils that WE created - like streets crowded with cars and trucks.  

 

I lived on a farm for years and all of our cats were both indoor/outdoor pets.  Every so often a coyote would get one, but we had a hound dog who kept most wild animals off our property.  It was ideal for the pets - they truly had the best of both worlds!  I wish it could be this way for all of the kitties!


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Old 02-24-2011, 01:03 PM
 
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We are a ranching community and I actually don't know anyone who has an indoor cat. Cats around here are a live in the barn type of animal rather than a pet. We do have a couple of cats that sometimes ask to come in when it is really really cold outside, but that is pretty rare. If they stay relatively close to home they will be safe, but we have lost some over the years to coyotes and foxes.

 

These cats serve a pretty important purpose in my opinion by keeping the mice, ground squirrels, and other pests under control. All these things are damaging to our livestock and fields. The cats help prevent the problems.

 

I totally agree with keeping cats inside if you live in a busy area, but not everyone does, and not everyone has leash laws either.

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Old 02-24-2011, 01:45 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nd_deadhead View Post

Most people don't realize (or don't care) that the same leash laws that apply to dogs also apply to cats, so letting your cat out without supervision is against the law.

 

Depends on your local ordinances. This certainly isn't the case in common law. Similarly, the impact of bird predation depends on where you are; the data simply don't exist to make blanket generalizations (the ever-popular Wisconsin study has obvious problems; I've only just stumbled across this guy, but the posts I've read so far seem to be well focused on the actual body of research).

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Old 02-24-2011, 05:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nd_deadhead View Post

Most people don't realize (or don't care) that the same leash laws that apply to dogs also apply to cats, so letting your cat out without supervision is against the law.


Mmmmm...not really.  A general statement like this really holds no water, since "leash laws" are usually enacted at the county level, or even by city or town.  It's not like there's a federal leash law, or even 51 state (and DC) laws.  There are a multitude of local laws instead, and areas where there are none at all.  Our town has no laws regarding the restraint of cats.  Further, the term "leash law" is actually a misnomer because the many common pet laws prohibit dogs from running "at large", and make no mention of the need for physical restraint via leash.  In many areas, a dog under voice command, but otherwise leashless would not be in violation of the law.


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Old 02-24-2011, 06:09 PM
 
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People used to say the same thing about dogs, they are meant to roam, to be outside, to be free.  While they may love that, in our society I find it highly irresponsible to let cats or dogs roam free (in most city/suburb situations...farm life is different to a degree).  My cats go outside everyonce in awhile when I am right there to watch them.  I got complacent once because they literally never left the yard and started letting the one out a bit when I couldnt totally watch, yep got lost for 3 days.  If you are not out there 100% of the time and have a good recall, no its no ok


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Old 02-24-2011, 06:15 PM
 
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Quote:

why would you not allow or like outdoor kitties?

 

is it mainly for safety and using the garden as a giant litter box?

 

would u still keep her indoors. what am i missing here?

 

I do not like loose cats - mostly because 1. they drive my indoor cat nuts when they parade out in front of our house, 2. they pee and poop on our property, and 3. they are at much more risk of being injured or killed.  The ones around us are also intact - there are already waaaaay too many homeless cats out there.  It's so tempting to trap them, have them neutered, and set them loose again!

 

That being said, if I could cat proof fence my yard our cat would become and indoor/outdoor cat - he has inappropriate elimination issues and our vet has said in her experience letting them outdoors is the best option, but I can't in good conscience just let him out.  There's just too much traffic and neighbors too close for me to feel comfortable with that.

 

If I were in your situation, I'd be very tempted to let my cat outside while I was home, though I'd have to be comfortable accepting the additional risks.


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Old 02-24-2011, 10:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

i need help understanding this. 

 

why would you not allow or like outdoor kitties?

 

is it mainly for safety and using the garden as a giant litter box?


Most cats travel an average of a 3 mile radius when let outdoors.  I don't feel that all those people should be responsible for cleaning up after my cat should he/she poop or pee, kill prey, destroy gardens, etc.  Plus the risk of disease and infections, and then your cat can transmit those diseases to other people's pets.  Then there is always the chance of your cat being injured or killed by a other animals, cars, etc.  I just don't want to take those risks with my cats. 

 

We have 3 cats, and they are all strictly indoors.  Two of them are under a year old (litter mate brothers) and while yes they can be playful at times, we have a lot for them to do in our house to keep them occupied.  Our other cat likes to go outside when it is nice outside (she doesn't like it when it's cold out) but all she likes to do is roll around on the concrete and eat a bit of grass (we don't use fertilizers, don't worry), but she gets the same satisfaction by going into the basement and rolling around on the concrete down there.  I don't think it has anything to do with "outside".  When she goes out it is only when we go out and sit right next to her.  She is NEVER allowed outside alone and she only goes out for a few minutes at a time.  I don't trust the boys not to bolt if we let them outside, so they haven't gone out yet. 

 

Even when we move to the country, we won't let our cats outside.  Most of the same dangers are still there, but now you just have a few additional predators to worry about (cats do not know property lines and will probably roam to other farms, so your dogs will not be able to protect them from predators there).  What dangers you lose from the city, you gain different ones in the country, so it all pretty much evens out. 


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Old 02-24-2011, 10:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by NikonMama View Post

Most cats travel an average of a 3 mile radius when let outdoors.

 

Source? I'm finding housecat ranges quoted anywhere from one-twentieth of an acre for females to half an acre for males (undocumented), up to 69 acres (N = 10; Barratt 1997). By contrast, Jones & Coman (1982) report a top end of ~2400 acres for feral males in rural Victoria, Australia (N = 6). Even that is a radius of only 1.1 miles if my arithmetic is correct.

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Old 02-24-2011, 11:23 PM
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My 19 year old cat seems perfectly happy being 100% indoors, as she has been for her whole life. Sometimes she likes to look out the window, but we can leave the door wide open and she won't go out.

 

When we lived on a farm there was a barn cat, but she wasn't a pet. She was a farm animal, and she kept the rat and mouse population down in the barns. She disappeared at some point, and we assume she died but we never found her body. She was maybe 5...


 
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