Kids & Kittens & Keeping Them Inside

Readers — This is such a fantastic example of the way our society is going: Better not to experience ANYTHING than to be exposed to a single ounce of RISK. It comes to us from Julie Saxon, a university lecturer turned stay-at-mom of two in San Jose, CA. –  L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: Just wanted to share this story that happened yesterday. My family has decided it’s time to adopt a pet, and we’d like a cat or kitten.  My husband and I both grew up with cats in the household and we both had indoor/outdoor cats. I know there’s a lot of controversy about what’s best, but we both believe that it is better for the cat’s well-being to allowed outside sometimes.  (Plus no litter box is awesome!)

So we set out to a local pet store yesterday that was holding an adoption fair. It was being put on by a local cat rescue that had very specific requirements of the homes in which the cats are to be placed, and one — written into a contract — is that the kitten will be kept indoors only. So, obviously, this wasn’t the rescue for us. But what was really interesting was the rhetoric the volunteer used in trying to convince us that cats are better as indoor only. It mirrored almost exactly what the media is telling us about children!  Some of the things she told me:

* We all used to have outdoor cats when we were kids. Everyone did. But things are different now.
* The cats’ biggest problem is PREDATORS. We think it’s cars, but it’s not. It’s predators. She then began to speak about COYOTES, despite the fact that I live in the suburbs of a fairly big city and have never–NOT ONCE in the 16 years I’ve lived here–seen a coyote. Off-leash dogs, yes. Raccoons and possums, yes. Coyotes, not so much.
* Kittens should never be outside, and these in particular because they’ve never been outside. They don’t know how to be outside. (As if I’m going to toss the kitten in the front yard and let it fend for itself.)
*Indoor only cats live longer.
*Besides, they don’t know what they’re missing.

Whether you believe the same way as this volunteer regarding cats and kittens isn’t my point. But I was shocked at how closely animal rescue folks mimic helicopter parents or possibly vice versa. Have we reduced our children to the state of 4-month-old bottle-fed baby kittens? We have to keep them inside because they’ve never been outside and they would instantly become prey to wild predators? Training them isn’t even considered? Besides, depriving them of what comes naturally is fine because they will live longer and they don’t know any different anyway? Wow! –  Julie

Who needs nature? We’re learning our numbers!

176 Responses

  1. We have a cat that’s a year old. Just like we’ve taught him not to get on the table, we’ve taught him not to go in certain parts of the yard, primarily due to the amount of poison ivy in those areas. Animals, and kids for that matter, are pretty smart and figure things out rather quickly! Guidance, not helicoptering, is what’s needed.

  2. We don’t have a cat (we’re dog people) so I cannot comment on the indoor/outdoor thing about cats, but I do have to say that even though this woman has never seen a coyote, it’s very likely that they are around her suburban neighborhood. Coyotes are amazing animals. While other animals have struggled with spreading urbanization, coyotes have not only adapted well, they have spread out their range to include the entire continental US. I live in an urban city in the south and coyotes are an issue here. They have taken small dogs who are being walked off leash and sightings are becoming fairly common. A friend’s indoor/outdoor cat literally flew through a window of her house to escape one (at great injury to herself after breaking the glass).

    As to the FRK element, I think this is stretching it. When I was a kid, dogs often roamed without leashes. And dogs often got hit by cars. It was not a good situation for either the dogs or those who loved them. Leash laws have been a good thing for dogs. Leash laws would not be a good thing for kids.

  3. Housecats let outdoors to prey on wild birds have an unfair advantage as they are cared for without having to live by their wits 24/7. This means a much larger population of cats than would be seen in a natural environment. A potentially serious impact on bird populations.

  4. @dmd, the Free Range element is that the very same things the OP was told about kittens is what we are told about children. And raising children in an environment where the biggest fear is predators (not cars), and with the belief that kids will live longer if they are kept indoors, is ANTI free range.

  5. Kids: outside
    Cats: inside

    If kids stay inside, they become fat, stupid and dependent. If cats stay outside, they become roadkill and eat our songbirds. (Like GJeff says above, you’re introducing a wild predator into the neighborhood.)

    Its amazing how much the folks in my neighborhood have f**ked this up.

  6. This is not such a great comparison.If letting kids play freely outside shortened their lifespans in as dramatic way as letting cats play outside does, I suspect you would rethink your commitment to the free range idea.

  7. Oh, this is a great parallel. I live on a farm (now) after having grown up “indoors.” My mom was one of the first of the Etan Patz fear-parents. I was born in 1976, and remember all the lectures from about the time I was four. Outside was not a place for me to be. Somehow, I grew up adoring nature, and animals, and outside. My husband and I are raising our children on a farm, and we have outdoor cats. I struggled mightily with the decision to let our cats be outside. I swear, my oldest cat Atticus, has been happier and more natural in the past four years he has lived outside than he was in his prior indoor life. He has gotten into a few scrapes, and we’ve always gotten him taken care of. He hunts, and runs, and chases, and climbs trees. He is a sleek and healthy 10-year-old cat who lounges in the sun and grass all day. And my little girls are growing up the same way. We have recently coined a new phrase for people who have grown up solely indoors. We had an intern recently who couldn’t handle the heat outside, so she quit. She had asked, “Is it always this hot?” I said to my husband, “Wait, she IS from Indiana, right?” He said, “Nope. She’s from Indoors.” Sigh.

  8. DM Kelly, You beat me to it. Great Parallel!

  9. I’m always puzzled and a bit upset by ‘indoor cat’ insistence in the US. Outdoor cats are still the norm here in the UK – I remember a US cousin saying to me ‘You let your cat outside?! Don’t they catch illnesses?’ and my response was along the lines of ‘Well, children can catch illnesses outside, but we let them out!’

    I guess in some parts of the US, predators are more of a threat to cats than they are in the UK, but not everywhere, I’m sure. There are some concerns about cats eating birds, though, but no move towards keeping them indoors as standard.

    The two cats in my lifetime that have died both lived to the age of 17, by the way.

  10. Eh, this post is skirting pretty close to anthropomorphizing pets. They’re not little humans, nor should they be treated as such.

    Indoor cats live longer. That’s not really controversial. You’re not preparing them for an independent life. You’re going to be their lifelong servant anyway. If you’re out in the sticks, fine, have an outdoor cat, but if you have neighbors with a garden (or a sandbox…), please keep your cat inside. You’ll likely have a healthier, longer-lived cat as a result.

  11. So, now that I got the quick reply out of my system. I want to argue Julie’s comparison. Yes, the volunteer has adopted the rhetoric of helicopter parents. But cats aren’t children, and that’s where the comparison rings false.

    In developed areas, I don’t worry about cats being chased by predators. I worry about them BECOMING predators. In North America, housecats aren’t exactly what you would call native critters. In the wild, they compete with native predators, so we lose songbirds as well as the raptors that have to compete with cats.
    Also, yes, I’m sure cats can be trained to some extent, but not to suppress their natural hunting instincts. At least, I’ve never seen it done.

    As far as I can tell, in my neighborhood, the biggest predators of cats are cars. (Except for this one cat, he’s unkillable. Also, he keeps gnawing on squirrels in my front yard, which is messy.)

    I have yet to see one of the neighbor’s kids munching on a vole or a goldfinch in the backyard. And while I’m sure the kids are taking advantage of the great outdoor urinal, I’m fairly certain they aren’t crapping under my porch.

    So, please, let your kids out to run, screech and enjoy the afternoon. Keep the cats inside.

  12. Oh yea, you had better believe there are coyotes in San Jose. I live near the foothills in the South area of the city and we see them every once in awhile. And yes, one of my indoor/outdoor cats quite probably ended up a coyote snack. And we still let the other cat out. And she loves it. She recently caught her first mouse at the ripe age of 13. Go kitty!

  13. I think this is spot-on. The presence of predators for cats depends on where you live, of course, but I’d think in the vast majority of cases it’s not an issue. As to cats eating birds? That’s silly. A well-fed cat has little incentive to catch a bird. My parents have had cats since before I was born and the number of birds they’ve actually managed to catch could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

    Interestingly, my parents’ most recent cats have been kept inside, and before they got too old to care, it was obvious that they were desperate to go outside, but they weren’t allowed. That’s kind of sad.

    Your vet bill will almost certainly be lower, and indeed your cat will likely live longer, if you keep it inside, but that’s just sacrificing your pet’s ability to experience life to the fullest to make your life more convenient. I.e. it’s helicopter parenting.

  14. I don’t know. I’ve seen too many cats as roadkill to believe this is a good plan. It’s different depending on where you live. Kids need to be free-range because they need to grow up and become independent. Unless you’re training your cat to free them then I don’t see it as the same thing. Our cats seem very content playing with the toys they have in the house, watching the birds from the windows, catching moths and wrestling with each other. i imagine if you only have one cat that they’d get more lonely depending on their personality.

  15. I’m more concerned about a rabid cat biting a small child. We have a large number of feral cats where I live. I know of at least 5 children who have had to have rabies shots because of being bitten in the last few years. I believe that cats should have to be licensed the same as dogs. This would accomplish two things. One, it would be proof of rabies vaccination and two it would allow a lost cat to be returned home. Wouldn’t be a bad idea for small children either. That way I’d know who keeps leaving tricycle tracks in my garden.

  16. I was a big Greek Myth fan as a kid.
    I remember the first time I read about the Trojan War and Achilles’ choice. That story changed my outlook on life forever. Achilles was given the choice to live a long (boring) life in obscurity or a short (adventurous) life of glory.
    He chose a short life of glory.
    Were his parents sad that he died young? probably. I think it goes without saying that anytime a kid dies before his/her parents it’s sad. However his parents were also incredibly proud, and found both comfort and joy in knowing that before he died, he first got to live.
    I want the same for my cats, dog, children and myself.
    I do not want to be 90 years old in a nursing home slowly dying of nothing. If my children choose that for themselves I will respect it, but first I want to know that they had the opportunity to live, really live. And if that means their lives are shorter, I’ll be comforted by the knowledge that they were also that much richer.
    My mantra with my children these days has become “It’s about doing dangerous things as safely as you can.”
    Yes, you can climb that tree – test each branch and go slowly until you know the route and know you can get down.
    Yes, you can use a pocket knife – turn the blade away from you and watch out for other people.
    Yes, you can climb that cliff – anchor in and have an experienced belayer to help you.
    Yes, you can jump out of an airplane – wear a parachute. (And do a tandem jump until you are certified to go solo.)
    Yes, you can (fill in the blank), just take the proper precautions.
    As Mel Gibson said in Braveheart – “All men die, not every man truly lives.”
    I want my children to LIVE.

  17. Cats, even well feed cats, have a neede to hunt. Simply put cats are the number one predator of birds in the US. They account for about 38% of all bird deaths. This is not to say that cats must be kept inside, but to claim that bird deaths are an important issue to consider. There are also issue of lizard and other small animals. Ref for bird deaths:

  18. @thinkbannedthoughts
    Bravo:) I agree wholeheartedly:)

  19. I grew up with outdoor cats. We now have two indoor cats, and have to go to great lengths to teach neighborhood outdoor cats to not use our garden bends to sh!t in. My free range kid doesn’t pee on your lawn. I can’t tell you how:

    “(Plus no litter box is awesome!)”

    Just plain pisses me off. Shunting your responsibility onto someone else isn’t awesome. It’s selfish.

  20. Well, I also used to have indoor/outdoor cats, and live in the suburb of a large city. My cats are all indoors now.

    Why? Because YES, there are coyotes…and mountain lions, occasionally…on the east coast. But that isn’t why they’re indoor-only now. They stay indoors because there is so much more traffic than there used to be, and when younger I lost some to the road. It’s heartbreaking to have your kitty not come home for dinner, and the next day find where they had crawled, back broken, across the lawn to try to get home. And believe you me, there are FAR, FAR more people who will purposefully run down a cat in the road than will attack your children.

    It is a big, fast, clamoring human world. Children can and must learn to operate within it. Cats are small and have no frame of reference to adapt to our big, fast world. When is the last time you saw an OLD stray cat? Think about it.

  21. I really don’t think the cats/kids thing is a good comparison. There are bylaws in my city which means your cat must be inside. You let them out to wander and they kill birds, dig up people’s flower beds, spray on everything and run the risk of getting hit by a car. I don’t know of any of the kids in my neighbourhood that play freely that do the same things cats do. And I’m tired of seeing “have you seen our missing cat” posters plastered on every street post. I took out a pen and wrote on one of the posters “If you had followed city bylaws and kept your cat indoors like you should, you wouldn’t have upset children who miss there cat, now would you?” Call me rotten if you like but really, that wouldn’t have happened if you followed your cities bylaws. Bottom line…. most cats let to roam free ruin other people’s property and are a nuisance. Children let to roam free in their neighbourhoods are being CHILDREN… please don’t compare them to cats 😦

  22. I have such conflicted feelings about this comparison. My children are outside pretty much all day in the Summer and at least part of every day in the cold and rainy months. We are homeschooling and this makes it possible for us to have them outside far more than most kids their age, even the ones with more relaxed parents. Our cats are also indoor/outdoor. I have had both indoor cats and indoor/outdoor cats and I have to say that my indoor/outdoor cats have tended to be much happier and healthier than the strictly indoor cats. However, because of the bird issue and because we live in a small town in a rural area where there are coyotes, I had to think long and hard about whether to let them outside. They may have shorter lives if the coyotes get them, (which I would find upsetting) but I know that they would be happy until they reach that point whereas neither of them, as former strays, would be happy to have to be indoor only. They are both prolific hunters but only a very small percentage of what they catch are birds.

    I think I take the point that depending on your point of view maybe it is appropriate for a kitten/cat to have these type of restrictions but not for children to have them, and yet so very many children DO have them.

  23. This whole idea of never letting animals out is just plain silly, as far as I’m concerned. I live in a suburb, and there are several indoor-outdoor cats in our neighborhood. I can say that my cat is way happier being allowed out. The difference in her health and mood is astonishing.

    And if something happens to her, even if she does get killed, I would say she is still better off having had 5 or 6 FANTASTIC years over 15 “meh” ones. Living longer doesn’t mean living BETTER. Would you like to live in one place your entire life, never be allowed out, and live twice as long? Or would you trade half those years if you could explore, feel the sun on your face and the grass beneath your feet?

  24. Can’t decide for yourself these days in too many matters it seems. Someone always ready to tell you “you can’t do that”. That’s where I definitely see a similarity.

  25. Andrea Lynnette expresses my feelings EXACTLY. And this is coming from someone who just yesterday, got my lost indoor-outdoor cat back after giving up hope on him.

    But I’m not going to argue that point. I will just chime in one more voice about the coyote thing — you probably do have them. They are extremely common, and very stealthy. But like Andrea says, better a few years of the life a cat is designed for, than 15 years of decorating furniture. (And of course, you get them their shots and everything to protect them from the avoidable problems as well as to protect other animals.)

  26. “If you had followed city bylaws and kept your cat indoors like you should, you wouldn’t have upset children who miss there cat, now would you?” Call me rotten if you like”

    I’m tempted. Did you stop to consider that the cat might have slipped out?

  27. Another vote for this is stretching the FRK. Just because you don’t see coyotes doesn’t mean you don’t have them and possums and raccoons can be just as fierce with a cat. That doesn’t even cover the damage cats can do to one another if they get in a neighborhood scruff or the danger of motor vehicles. And unlike stranger danger which has a statistically low chance of happening, wild animals, cat fights, disease and car collisions have a real statistical risk.

    It’s comparing apples and oranges and doesn’t advance the Free Range philosophy.

  28. If the person who sent you this doesn’t understand the differences between cats and children … she should have neither.

    1 – Predators – dogs will attack and kill cats that roam into the dog’s territory.

    2 – Wildlife such as coyotes, hawks and owls (great horned) also view cats as prey. You may not see them, but they are there. Coyotes usually quickly eat the innards and leave the gutted corpse lying in your yard like a Satanic sacrifice.

    3 – In some areas, free-roaming cats bring back fleas with bubonic plague. In other areas, it’s just fleas, worms, and ticks. And whatever nasty things they get in cat fights that makes those huge abscesses.

    4 – Nuisance to neighbors … cat poop in the planters, cats digging up the gardens to poop, toms spraying doorways and windows … they can be a nuisance animal.
    On the bright side, having a semi-feral cat will give you an opportunity for explaining to the kids why Fluffy never came home, or using Fluffy’s mangled corpse as either an anatomy lesson or a touching talk on life and death.

  29. Rabies is not really a concern either. Really. It isn’t.

  30. My kitty became an outside cat when he ran like a crazy nut ten times a day over my baby’s face. Guess I am a helicopter mom because I didn’t want the baby to be scratched. Shrug.

  31. My kids play outside My cat stays inside because we do have coyotes and our last three cats have gone missing.

  32. Hopefully your children will not do any of the following things:

    Leave piles of crap in my backyard
    Have screaming, screeching fights under my window at 2AM
    Have babies under my front steps
    Crawl into my backyard to die after being mangled by something

    I’ve had all of these in the past few years because a neighbor feels it’s a good thing to let his 5 cats roam the neighborhood at all times.

    And the coyotes, yes, they’re out there. Everywhere. Anyplace there is greenery and something to eat.

    Freerange cats are not a good thing. Freerange children are. The two are not even close and are not related.

    Also, as someone who is involved in animal rescue, the rescue organizations spend a lot of effort, time, money, and resources on the rescued animals. Many are injured due to abuse and being hit by cars or attacked by other animals, and people donate to nurse them back to health. They don’t want the animals out there to get mangled again.

  33. Andrea, your cat is your cat, and if you want him or her outside, that’s fine. Just keep the damn thing off my property.

    Oh, wait, you can’t? Its an animal? Oh, then maybe you should just keep it inside like a responsible owner.

  34. Usually, I agree completely with your posts. This time, I do not.
    Over the past 35 years, I have rescued and cared for dozens of cats.
    For the first few years, I allowed them to come and go as they pleased. Their lives were typically short, and I will forever be haunted by the memories of finding their mangled little bodies.
    I learned the hard way that raccoons kill cats. Dogs kill cats. They get hit by cars, and tortured by teenage boys.
    Outdoor cats are prone to get into fights with other cats, and they pick up ticks.
    Finally, if you are too lazy to clean the litter box, please do the cat a favor and get a low-maintenance pet.

  35. This is ridiculous. Cats belong inside and the argument that should be used is the fact that cats deplete the already depleted bird population — especially in the cities. Don’t get mixed up in the helicoptering parent hysteria when folks and the writer should learn that cats belong inside. Period.

  36. My point wasn’t really whether cats should be indoor or outdoor or whether my neighborhood has coyotes. More that we are treating our kids like bottle-fed kittens who have never been outdoors because the risk is too great. Even if you believe cats should be kept indoors all the time, why treat your child that way? Your cat will be dependent upon you his entire life. Do you really want that for your child?

  37. I’ve never had a cat that could be contained indoors. They most certainly DO know what they’re missing, unless you live in a cave with no windows and never open your front door even. I briefly lived in an apartment (ground floor, but no yard) when we first got our cat and he would literally claw through the window screens to get out. Once we got our house he barely comes INSIDE anymore. And yes, we did lie to the adoption places for each cat and say we’d keep them inside – they all require that and it’s the only way to adopt them. They’d rather keep them cooped up in a shelter than give them to someone who lets them outside. Yes there are predators, yes there are cars, and yes I have had one cat hit by a car, but I’d rather they be happy doing what comes more naturally to them and accept some risk. You know, just like with kids.

  38. @suze look over there, they’re petting their cat. Just FYI. Please don’t anyone tell my 15 year old indoor/outdoor cat she’s supposed to be dead. My pets all see a vet regularly, are up to date on all shots.and are all belled. Every cat I’ve ever had had lived to over 15 and one lived to 22 so I seriously doubt the shortened life span deal.

  39. @Julie: It’s not that we treat cats like children, it’s that we treat children like cats. I agree with you on that. Children are not cats, or pets, or examples of our shining virtue as parents.

    There are valid reasons why house cats are house cats. We should not pretend they are free range animals, they are house cats. Period.

    By the same token, kids are people, and we expect them to grow up and function in the world.

  40. wow, I just scrolled up and read all the rabid anti-cat comments. I’m glad you people don’t live in my neighborhood. All my neighbors know and love my cats. They are fixed (no babies under porches), they are healthy (bury their poop – only a sick cat would leave poop lying around), and they are friendly. If you have had bad experiences with irresponsible cat owners, don’t take it out on all cats please! I agree wtih the commenter who noted the cats are much happier being out – any cat I’ve kept indoors was miserable. I also think the shorter lifespan statistic is kind of BS – the average is shorter because a few meet accidents, but otherwise they live just as long. I’ve had outdoor cats live over 20 years. It’s not like being outside just shortens their lifespans automatically.

  41. Friend of mine lives in an urban area and has had two cats killed by coyotes and a friend of hers had a small dog on a leash that was killed by a coyote while she was out walking him in broad daylight in the same urban area. They are out there. I do keep my cats inside, but we live in a rural area and can hear the coyotes. In 8 years, I’ve only seen one and it had been hit by a car, but we hear them all the time. The cats are allowed out on a screened in porch to watch the rabbits and birds and enjoy being “outside.” They are supervised, though, but that’s more for the protection of the screens than the cats. They like to climb the screens and get up in the rafters on the porch and then demand that you come get them down. Until you’ve stacked chairs on a table and extracted a cat from the ceiling, you haven’t lived. LOL!

  42. Yan: Nicely said.

    Sara: Who is rabid anti-cat? (I did notice that one was, at least, anti-rabid cat.) I happen to like cats, just not irresponsible owners. (And, despite what you may believe, even when they bury their crap in the mulch, it still smells.)

    Also, your sentence ” I also think the shorter lifespan statistic is kind of BS – the average is shorter because a few meet accidents, but otherwise they live just as long” makes no sense.

    On average they die sooner, but otherwise live just as long?

  43. You know what I did on Saturday? Same thing I do every Saturday – went to Union Square, stopped by the bookstore, and read my new book in the park while eating a maple syrup greek yogurt. Really, it’s the highlight of my week.

    This Saturday, I got to see one of the falcons that live in the city. Flew right past me. They eat pigeons, and squirrels, and probably cats if they can get their talons on them. That’s right, the birds are fighting back!

    There are a lot of reasons to keep your cat from having unsupervised outdoor time (note the word unsupervised, I’ll get back to that in a minute). They’re highly efficient non-native predators that, yes, will decimate the local native bird and rodent populations, which is not so dandy when they’re harmless and endangered. They’re small and at risk of death by other predators (even if you don’t realize such predators exist) or cars. They actually ARE at risk of kidnappings for medical experiments, even nowadays. They’re at risk of getting various ifffy illnesses, and if you haven’t bothered to get your cat altered they’re likely to get pregnant or run off to get some other cat pregnant. There are more than enough kittens in the world already, I promise. Oh, and let’s not forget the fleas, ticks, and worms. Any one of those parasites is more than enough to kill a kitten.

    Really, it cuts several years off your cat’s expected lifespan. They kill native species and spread disease, and in turn are killed before they can die naturally. It’s the cirrrcle of liiiiiiiife…! (Plus, don’t forget all the kittens you can’t unload because, honestly, there are too many of them as it is. Want a kitten? Become a foster owner.)

    At the moment, I do actually have an indoor outdoor cat. She came to us that way, and as I don’t even like her I decided it wasn’t worth my effort to fix this. (And – hah! – it turns out somebody else already thought they owned her. Of course, after I’ve spent over $1000 on this animal they’re not getting her back, but there’s just another risk of letting your cat roam.) However, if you’re starting from scratch, you should at least make the effort to either keep them indoors or only let them out in a supervised way – say, in a truly enclosed backyard or on a harness. Cats aren’t like children. Children grow up and become responsible individuals. Domestic cats actually never do. (And I’m not just using rhetoric here. Genetically speaking, adult cats are like kittens compared to their closest wild relatives.)

  44. Are our pets human, no……..but that fact is mute. All creatures big and small have the same right to life. All creatures big and small have the same right to quality of life. So if your cat enjoys the outdoors, so be it. Same for dogs… as my Great Pyrenese pushes open the office door and climbs up on the bed.
    Most “humans” and I use that word rather loosely, seem to frequently forget, that we are animals as well. Let’s face it, we “humans” should probably take some parenting advice from our animal neighbours.

  45. @pentamom….. Yes, I ran into only one cat owner who put a flyer up about their missing cat that said it slipped out and it was the babysitter who did it by accident…. BUT.. most of these are from irresponsible pet owners. But I will NOT apologize to anyone who lost their cat because they let the thing out and it didn’t come back. I’m sorry; your cat doesn’t deserve to end up dead but keep it inside. My neighbours will thank you. We’re sick and tired of everyone of the aforementioned dubious cat antics happening to our homes. Have you ever noticed they never dig up their own owners flower beds, crap under their porches etc…. but no, its NEVER their cat causing the neighbours trouble. That’s why there are bylaws folks… follow them especially if you live in an urban area. PLEASE !!!!

    I agree with you HIGreg & Tsu Doh Nihm…. thank you folks for your blunt truth.

  46. (Plus no litter box is awesome!)

    No, it just means your cat is pissing and shiiting all over my yard, plants and garden.

    Outdoor cats aren’t yours, you’re not their owner.
    If you want to be a responsible cat owner, keep them inside. If you take care of the properly, interacting with them, giving them things to do inside, they’ll be happy and live longer.

    I’m pretty sure my children aren’t over in your yard taking a dump in your vegetable garden or potted plants. But, next time they’re heading over I’ll tell them it’s OK if they want to.

  47. I have have had exactly this thought myself. And to the parallels you bring up let me add one more, one that can be seen in the comments here – the lack of tolerance that people have about cats roaming free. Akin to the lack of tolerance shown nowadays to children being outdoors without “their” adult. Saying it’s a lack of tolerance is probably not even expressing it strongly enough. I think you could go with outrage. Some folks about the roaming kids, others about the roaming cats, and some people are perhaps furious about both (although I guess they wouldn’t necessarily be visiting this blog).

    I remember seeing a documentary once about a group of scientists studying the predatory nature of cats and they came to the conclusion that were it not for house cats killing the amount of birds they do, we would be overrun with birds, a la Hitchcock. Those of you who are claiming otherwise – do you have any studies that you could cite?

    And lastly, to the person who wrote keeping cats indoors is not controversial. Sorry, I’m confused. Personally, I live in a country that does not practice it and people here would find the idea bizarre, but more obviously, not being controversial is exactly the point: Locking kids and cats up has become the order of the day in the States. It’s not controversial to keep your kid inside all day, every day. In fact it gets a nod, a thumbs up, a green light. Addressing that lack of controversy is what this blog is all about!

  48. @Sara: Tell me where you live, and I’ll drop off my 5 1/2 foot constrictor snake in your backyard. She’s friendly and loves people, too. I’m sure you’d enjoy having her in your backyard for a while until I get around to picking her up again.

    Just kidding. But just because you like your pets doesn’t mean they’re not pests when they’re in my backyard.

  49. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All these people with issues! The one arguement that keeps coming up is the indoors=lives longer. By that token, to protect eveyone and everything we love, we should never let anyone or anything outside. Lets all shoot for huge bio-domes, that are self supporting. We can seperate the population by religion, those with cats, those with dogs, those with both, those with gerbils, those with birds……………and so on.
    As for kids not using your lot as a bathroom, well I am pretty sure the odd kid, most likely boy, has used one of your trees, instead of making the trek all the way home…..just sayin’
    Everyone needs to take a deep breath, and count to ten. This wasnt about cat issues, it was about the theory behind the adoption requirements and how it mirrors so many parenting issues.

  50. I concur that this is stretching the FRK idea a bit. Coyotes and raccoons are there whether we see them or not. Any bike trail or powerline right of way is a highway for them. I have seen them and we get regular reports of sightings with lots of missing cat posters: could there be a connection?

    As for no litter box being awesome, toxoplasmosis in your neighbor’s vegetable garden isn’t. This sounds more like the worst attributes of modern parenting: let them make a mess in public so you don’t have to clean up after them.

    I have had cats all my life and the ones I have now are indoor only (the most recent one being the mother of a litter: we took her in when she showed signs to ensure the litter was born in a safe place). Judging by how many cats who come by our house to eat (remember, cats eat when they’re hungry, not when there’s food, unlike dogs), there are some fairly relaxed attitudes about care among the local cat owners. To keep your family members inside when you know there are predators or risks outside isn’t really “worst first” thinking: it’s prudent.

  51. Why do people act like it’s either let your cat out unsupervised or indoor only? There is a middle ground! If you want your cat to experience the ‘great outdoors’, you can harness train them or build an enclosure. Safer for the cat, safer for the environment, better for your neighbors.

    I had a cat with severe misdirected aggression. If she saw another cat outside a window she would become aggressive and redirect that aggression toward the nearest living object (like my elderly mother.) Misdirected aggression is one of the most dangerous forms of aggression because the cat is not in control of their actions…I knew of a couple who were trapped inside their bathroom for four hours because their cat went into a misdirected aggression fit. So thanks for turning my cat into a screaming banshee who wants to eat my face, neighbors!

    As others have stated, you can not compare cats to kids. Nor can you compare tolerating children to tolerating cats. I can tolerate other people’s children just fine, but I still don’t want them in my yard. I don’t want them using my flower bed as a bathroom. I don’t want them banging at the windows and upsetting my own children. I certainly don’t want to be the one who grinds the poor thing up with the fan belt in my car one snowy morning. Yet some for some reason I’m expected to tolerate all of this for other people’s pets?

    Your pet is YOUR responsibility. Responsibility is always all or nothing….you don’t get to be a little responsible. So if I grind your cat up in a car engine, YOU are responsible both for the poor cat’s death and for my trauma. If your cat ruins my flowers, YOU are responsible for it.

    And studies have shown that cats only bring home a 1/3 of the prey they kill. They are killing far more than you realize. What people don’t understand is that the urge to hunt is instinctive…it doesn’t matter if the cat has been feed three minutes ago. Also, have you ever rescued a songbird from the jaws of a housecat and watched it fly away? Did you pat yourself on the back that at least that one survived, so surely your cat isn’t so bad? Cats carry a bacteria in their saliva that is highly toxic to birds…over 80% of songbirds rescued from cats later died, even if they had only a tiny pinprick wound.

  52. Warren, I think you’re the one getting over-excited and missing the bigger picture. It is no longer about how adoption requirements mirror parenting issues, but the false equivalence being drawn. Cats aren’t children, yet it is part of the culture now to treat children much as we would vulnerable kittens.

    So much so that the guest writer, Julie, had an interaction with an animal adoption volunteer that immediately triggered her Free Range Kid outrage instincts.

    Helicoptering is so pervasive that the animal adoption volunteer could effortlessly employ it in talking about kittens.

    Also, keep yer dang cat off my lawn.

  53. Avoiding the indoor/outdoor cat debate…

    It’s amazing that what this volunteer said fits so close to helicoptered children. Sure, you can come up with all sorts of facts about a kitten’s wellbeing–but those DO NOT and SHOULD NOT apply to a child!

    A child is not a kitten! It may be very well for an animal rescue volunteer to give instructions on kitten care, but when parents apply the exact same logic to a child… *shakes head*

    I thought it was a wonderful comparison.

  54. This might be beating a dead cat, but there really is no parallel between indoor cats and free range kids. Unlike the predators that prey on children that are largely a figment of collective hysteria, coyotes are real, exist in relativly large numbers in suburbsn and urban environments, and they do prey on cats. One study of suburban coyotes in Tuscon, AZ found that almost 40% of their diet was house csts. If you live in the Western U.S., your cat has an astronomically higher probsllitly of being killed by a coyote than all the things helicopter parents claim to be protecting their kids from.

  55. @Suze, while I’ve been tempted to write with my red pen on public posters (usually to correct grammatical mistakes like the confusion of there/they’re/their), I found your approach rather cruel. In your neighborhood, perhaps the missing cats are those that were intentionally left outdoors, but if I’d seen such a comment on my own Missing Cat posters from earlier this year, I would have been crushed.

    We live in an apartment building in an urban area, and I always keep my cats indoors. Because I understand that they can still get lost, they’re microchipped and registered with a lost pet agency. (They’re of course also spayed/neutered and have had their shots.) One of them jumped or fell from a second-story window in our bathroom, and went missing. Five weeks later — after several sets of posters, near-nightly neighborhood rounds with food bait, and many visits to the local animal shelters (including paging through the dead cat / roadkill records, which I hope you NEVER have to do) — we found her underneath another apartment building. When we finally coaxed her out and brought her home, she was rail-thin and covered with fleas, but thankfully alive and happy to see us. I’m a responsible pet owner, and those five weeks were hell. No one missing their pet needs your callous input.

  56. I also think this is a wonderful comparison.

    We adopted two older kittens that were in a feral cat colony in South Philly 5 years ago. The rescue we adopted from said they would likely be indoor/outdoor and with a revolving door of kids in our house, we’d have better luck training them to go on outings (their “morning adventures”) and get them in at night then to fighting their natural instincts. So we did. They are excellent mousers (no birds, thank you) and my neighbors routinely thank me for the rodent control my cats naturally provide.

    The indoor pet thinking is getting out of control. There is a whole aisle at Petsmart dedicated to INDOOR dogs. Pee pads so that taking them outside for a walk isn’t even necessary.

    We also have two GSP pups that have insane natural instincts and need tons of time outdoors to expend their energy. A tired dog is a good dog. Same with kids. You can overthink this one all you want, but idealizing a perfect, long life for your pet without regard to their natural instincts will surely not end well.

  57. I find it striking that everyone keeps arguing (a) a cat’s natural instinct is to be outside and hunt and (b) they die sooner if outside. So we must keep cats inside to give them a false life completely outside their instinctive and natural life because not doing so might decrease their life and a less happy, limited life that is longer is always better than a shorter completely fulfilled life. Yep sounds exactly like our current attitude toward children – and the human species in general – to me.

    I don’t need to teach my cat to be independent (cats are already pretty damn independent). But, if we are as a species going to domesticate other animals as pets, we have a moral duty to give them as good and natural a life as possible. I’ve been a lifelong cat owner and the indoor/outdoor cats were the happiest. There is a reason that indoor cats are constantly trying to dash out the door and find other ways to get outside. It is where they want to be!!! There is also a reason that every indoor-only cat I’ve ever met has a weight problem. They are meant to be outdoors.

    A couple of our indoor/outdoor cats died young. Most lived to ripe old ages. Yes, more cats that go outdoors die at younger ages bringing the average life expectancy for outside cats down (they also usually include feral cats in that figure to make it look worse although feral cats and indoor/outdoor domesticated cats are two completely different groups). However, the vast majority of indoor/outdoor cats live to old age and die of natural causes.

    I bet the same can be said for kids. Kids DO get murdered by strangers and DO die in outdoor accidents. Those deaths would be prevented if the child never went outside. Those few deaths at very young ages bring down the total average life expectancy of humans. But the vast majority of people – inside and outside dwellers – grow to be senior citizens.

    I think the parellels are striking. Particularly the belief for both cats and children that an incomplete, but 100% safe, life lived indoors is better than a complete, but more dangerous, life outdoors because longer life is always better regardless of happiness.

  58. To Suze. I know her comment was a long time ago in the conversation and she’s unlikely to read this but: abiding by ‘bylaws’ to keep your car indoors only does *not* mean you won’t end up with a lost cat. Indoor cats that slip outside despite everything owners can do are the ones *most* likely to get lost since they aren’t accustomed to being outdoors or finding their house. What you did was incredibly mean to whoever’s poster that was and I hope they never read it. Our very much loved indoor only cat became lost outside after she fell from the window ledge when the screen dislodged after she tripped against it (yes, some cats are clumsy). We found her after a few stressful weeks of looking everywhere, calling all the local shelters, and worrying that she was injured and/or dead. Most of the people I know who have lost cats lost their indoor only cats when the cats either acccidently (like our falling) or intentionally (slipped past the owner or a guest while they were answering a door etc) got outside.

  59. In looking at the comments here, I think I’m seeing a big culture clash. I live in a neighborhood with lots of free-range pets and kids. We’ve never had one get hit by a car or otherwise injured. We know the kids and kitties are running around, we know that there are off-leash dogs, and we like it that way.

    Even though I have no kids of my own, I like seeing kids running around the neighborhood having fun, so I’ll take having to pick the odd toy, shoe, or Disney Princess costume set up off my lawn and return it to whichever neighbor kid left it there. Likewise, my petless neighbors are mostly older and can’t take care of a pet, but like animals, so don’t mind the odd pile of poop in exchange for a kitty that will climb up on the porch and cuddle with them.

    If my neighborhood’s culture were to change, then these practices would, too. So, I know that I’ve been looking at this discussion through the lens of my own neighborhood, which is probably nothing like most of yours.

    If my circumstances were different, I would probably have to keep my Duchess indoors, or more likely, take her to a friend’s farm to live because she is miserable, depressed, and sickly when forced to live inside.

  60. I was interested to read this post, especially after a recent post on led to a teapot-tempest of a debate on the subject of outdoor cats. Following was my comment on that blog: note the second-to-last paragraph!

    My fiancée and I live in Brooklyn and “rescued” (such a dramatic word) a cat that had been found by a friend of a friend walking the streets of midtown Manhattan. Saks (named because he was found on Fifth Avenue) was a rambunctious cat. We “rescued” a dog soon after, and the two of them entertained each other for a while, but Saks desperately wanted to get back out into the world.

    Our apartment had a back yard that was basically at basement level, surrounded by what seemed to be an unscalable wall, so we used to let Saks explore back there. Eventually, of course, he learned to make a 6-foot vertical leap from a fence and escape. After trying various methods to prevent his escape, we decided to ban him from being outdoors. He retaliated by peeing everywhere, scratching up furniture, and complaining non-stop. We wondered if he would be happier upstate at a horse farm we knew about.

    Eventually, after a lot of discussion and soul-searching, we gave up and let him be what he wanted to be: an indoor-outdoor cat. It was not an easy or callous decision. But he was much happier. We would see him when we were walking the dog, and he was excited to see us outside the apartment. He would follow us home and enter through the front door. I could see firsthand how savvy and cautious he was.

    When we moved to a new apartment on the fourth floor of a brownstone, we were worried about what would happen. We decided on a cat door in the window where the fire escape was. Were we crazy? No. He LOVES it. He comes and goes as he pleases, occasionally getting into expensive trouble — he sometimes comes home with battle scars, and once broke his foot — but he’s always anxious to go back out again, coming back for affection, food, playtime with the dog, and epic sleep sessions.

    He’s neutered, microchipped, immunized, has a jingly collar to warn all but the slowest birds (he’s more of a rat man), and he has a tag with our phone numbers on it and the message “I like to roam.” We often get judgmental calls from neighbors who find him a block or two away, and we do our best not to get defensive about it.

    Of course we worry about him. But you know who else worries a lot? Parents. Parents have to eventually let their kids walk to the end of the block, go out with their friends, drive a car, go off to college. Their children’s safety is not guaranteed. No one’s is. If someone’s teenager got into a car accident, we wouldn’t tell the parents it’s their fault for letting their children out of the house, because that would be awful.

    My point is that it would be nice if we were all a little less judgmental about people who do things differently from the way we do them. Everyone’s situation is different. If Saks could talk, he would tell everyone who demands that he should stay indoors to f***k off, but then, he’s a bit of a dick.

  61. OK, so if your cat tears up my yard, how will you teach your cat that’s a bad thing and not to do it again? If your child tears up my yard, will your response be the same as if it was your cat?

    Cats are not children; don’t anthropomorphize them. I can tell your kid not to tear up my yard. What do you suggest I do to/with your cat?

    You don’t treat children like cats; don’t treat cats like children.

    Freerange does not mean “dump your kid outside and who cares what they do; it’s not my problem and they’re just being true to their nature. Besides they’re happier outside.”

  62. I work at a vet clinic and strongly believe that most cats belong indoors, ESPECIALLY if you have the chance to raise them that way from day one. We are a small clnic in a small town and see a dozen cat bite (one cat biting another) cases every single week. Infections, antibiotics, $100+ vet bills. And it’s a positive when they are bitten by another cat – being bit by dogs, racoons, etc, can be fatal. People run over cats FOR FUN – I see dead cats on the road nearly every single day. Studies show that the average lifespan of an indoor/outdoor cat is 2-4 years and an indoor cat is 15-20.
    When I worked at an animal shelter, we had 1000+ cats a year come in as “found.” People don’t want wandering cats in their yards, their garage, pooping in their garden. In our area, people are likely to shoot at cats with BB guns or hunting rifles.
    Yes, there are plenty of cats that go outside and are fine, but I would rather have one less thing to worry about. My 10 and 14 year old cat are perfectly happy indoors and aren’t going to get bitten/mauled/shot or hit by a car.

  63. @Yan – If I believe everyone else on this page, your yard is also teeming with coyotes and songbirds, not to mention squirrels and raccoons. How do you teach them not to tear up your yard and poop in your vegetable garden?

  64. Yan, I don’t disagree that the impact on others is a valid complaint against letting cats roam free. That is a matter of being a responsible pet owner. I live in a neighborhood where cats roam free without issue. That doesn’t mean the cats don’t do the things you mentioned, just that it is accepted as a fact of life by the people who reside in the neighborhood. But it is also a neighborhood of wild yards as opposed to neatly manicured and just a general very naturalistic bent. I understand that all neighborhoods are not that. If I lived in a different neighborhood, I would simply not own a cat because, after a life time of cat ownership of both solely indoors and indoor/outdoor, I’ve come to believe that confining cats to a house 24/7 is cruel.

    I think the argument that cats must live indoors, albeit against their natural instinct to roam, because it is safer and safety is all that matters is a total parallel to our view of childhood and life in general today.

  65. “Your pet is YOUR responsibility. Responsibility is always all or nothing….you don’t get to be a little responsible”.

    C’mon what attitude does that remind you of? Puts me in mind of those people ranting about how the father who was arrested after leaving his kids at the playground deserved it because, as one poster put it “expecting other adults to step up when the children’s very parents have a low standard is ridiculous”. Cheers!

    For me, Andrea’s comment sums up the message I take away from this blog:

    “Even though I have no kids of my own, I like seeing kids running around the neighborhood having fun, so I’all take having to pick the odd toy, shoe, or Disney Princess costume set up off my lawn and return it to whichever neighbor kid left it there. Likewise, my petless neighbors are mostly older and can’t take care of a pet, but like animals, so don’t mind the odd pile of poop in exchange for a kitty that will climb up on the porch and cuddle with them”.

    Now that’s community. A place that recognizes that people and animals and the people that own them aren’t perfect and we all need to tolerate a little of what annoys us. Give me that and not this every man, woman and above all his or her child for him/herself – because Lord knows that child is that parent’s responsibility! so suck it up you lazy parent (or cat owner) – any day of the week.

  66. I guess I’m surprised that the animal shelters focus only on what can befall the cat… like many commenters here, I see that all of our actions affect not just us, but our world. I grew up letting our cats outdoors, and the neighbour was nearly apoplectic that the cat was hanging around by her bird feeder and birdbath. Back then, I thought she was a crank, but now I see it differently. We did come up with a strategy: we belled the cat so the birds had fair warning.

    As far as the cat’s life goes, if I view it in a vacuum, I would say yes, let them have some fresh air and contact with the natural world. Outside the vacuum, I would say consider the whole picture, and if the strategy of letting the cat roam isn’t working for others or the ecosystem, reevaluate and come up with something else.

    With kids, I do chafe against the message that we just leave out some of the “messier” parts of childhood in favour of strategies that encourage safety and predictability instead of growth and learning. “What-ifs” are not giving kids strategies to help navigate their world, just binding them up in fears. Keeping them indoors, or enormously structured outdoors in sports and camps (the human child version of the cat enclosure, I’d guess, where there’s fresh air and sunshine but not freedom) seems a sad trade-off indeed.

  67. In response to Donna…

    You are absolutely right that pet owners have a responsibility to allow their pets to express their natural instincts. This does NOT have to include letting the animal free roam.

    Cats have a natural instinct to climb and to claim vertical space. Cat trees and high furniture allow them to express this instinct. They have an instinct to eat grass- buy them cat grass. They have an instinct to hunt…there are many, many toys designed to engage the hunting instincts. You can also make them work for their food by hiding it so they have to track it down. Training them to do tricks engages their minds. And, of course, you can always build an enclosure to allow them to experience the outdoors while staying safe.

    ANY cat will become obese if allowed to remain sedentary and fed dry food. Most cat foods are full of grains, which cats as obligate carnivores don’t need. Carbs will put weight on a cat faster than anything else. With proper food and exercise, you can ensure your cat stays at a healthy weight. None of my indoor only cats have weight issues because I exercise them and feed wet food only.

    One of my cats is blind…he was born as a feral kitten and lost both eyes to infection. If I can train my blind cat to walk happily around the block in his harness, I have difficulty believing others can’t train their sighted cats. If I were to allow my blind cat to express his natural instincts unsupervised he would be dead in very short order (especially since he’s tends to run TOWARD loud noises like cars instead of away.)

    Yet JJ is one of the most intelligent, engaged, full of bratty vigor cat you’d ever meet. That’s because we take time every single day to play with him and let him safely express his instincts.

    Dogs have a natural instinct to chase moving prey…this can include the neighbor’s sheep herd or a small child. High prey drive dogs have an instinct not just to chase but to bite. Would a parent shrug it off if a dog bit their child because biting was a natural instinct? Why are cats ‘naturally’ supposed to roam free but dogs are generally not? A dog owner who simply opened the front door in the morning and put the dog out to fend for itself and called it back in at night would be looked at as a very poor pet owner, especially in a urban or suburban setting. We control and direct the natural instincts of dogs both for the animal’s own good and for societies. Cats should be no different. Note that doesn’t mean ERASING those instincts…just find safe ways to let the animal express them.

  68. Here’s a question. How do you keep your indoor only cats indoors? Seriously? We would love to know as we can not get ours to stay in. We have a purebred Siberian Forest Cat (they are hypoallergenic and we have a cat loving daughter with allergies and I do too). She was born inside to indoor parents. She came here to our home and was always indoors as a kitten. She is spayed. She spends a lot of time every day trying to get outside, and succeeds a few times a week. She will literally stalk the door (often covertly) and pounce then run run run until you can get her. I can’t tell you how many times we have done wild chases and then neighborhood searches only to have her proudly walk back in the door a day or 2 later (or yowl in the middle of the night to come in when she is good and ready). One of the first few times she got out (when she was just 1), she ended up gone 4 days, 3 nights and it was scary. Someone thankfully found her (in a wilderness park about 30 blocks from our house) and we got her back immediately thanks to her microchip and all the calls I had placed to local vets. She continued to escape but always found her way back after that. We moved about 6 months ago and I was so afraid of her getting lost again and we would frantically chase and search for her every time she escaped. She seems to know her way around the new place now so I have started just leaving the overhead garage door open a bit wen she escapes and she comes in there when she is ready. We have 5 kids so she often get out when they are running in and out but even my hubby ad I en up letting her out by mistake so often. She obviously wants to be out there so bad. She has never caught a bird but we live in a new area with few trees so there are few birds. I am often tempted to just let her be an indoor/outdoor cat except she annoys the neighbors.

  69. I think a distinction needs to be made – an enclosed pen is one thing that might well be fine, but I really do think people who just let cats roam free are a nuisance. That’s not “free-ranging”, that’s just obnoxious. I assure you that, unlike a responsible child, they do crap, kill, caterwaul, and traipse wherever they please, do not listen to requests, and if you also let an unneutered/unspayed cat loose (which does cross the line into truly irresponsible behavior, period), they are making litter upon litter of kittens into regions overrun with them already.

    We don’t have coyotes here in the more northern climes, but we do have giant (and aggressive) feral cat colonies that are growing increasingly impossible to manage and are destroying the local wildlife where they lack predators like the coyotes. Please don’t contribute to this. I say this as someone who does love cats and wish I had the time and ability to have one as a pet myself.

  70. MR…

    Of our two current indoor cats one is blind (and thus isn’t a very fast door runner) and one is terrified of the outdoors. I did, however, used to have a cat who would hang around the doors and dart out.

    You have a few options. You can buy a baby gate and just step over it when you come into the house…that will prevent her from running out. It’s probably the easiest solution.

    You can try to make the area around the door uncomfortable for her so that she’s less likely to hang around it. Try crumbling up some tinfoil, then spreading it out and putting it around the door. Cats don’t like the texture. They also sell mats with a bumpy texture that accomplish the same thing. Double sided tape on the floor is another possible deterrent. You’ll probably only need to keep any of this stuff down for a few weeks…after that you can remove it and she should still avoid the area.

    More drastic solutions would be something like an alarm system that makes a loud noise when the cat crosses the boundary. Or just get a water pistol and devote a few days to cat training. Sit outside the open door and whenever she approaches give her a spray. She’ll learn very quickly the door is to be avoided.

    I have an elderly mother with health problems so the baby gate wouldn’t work for us…she couldn’t step over. Tinfoil turned out to be our solution and broke her habit of door dashing. I would not have hesitated to break out the water pistol though because her life was at stake.

  71. @Paralell-
    “Cats should be no different. Note that doesn’t mean ERASING those instincts…just find safe ways to let the animal express them.”

    Which means buying lots of cat safety products, doesn’t it? Of course they want you to keep the cat indoors, there’s billions of dollars to spend on them providing a stimulating, artificial existence.
    Do they have bubble wrap for cats yet?

  72. You don’t need any expensive products at all. We built our own cat tree (because with JJ being blind it had to be lower than most.) Couple of two by fours and some leftover carpet pieces did the job. If you don’t want to buy cat toys a piece of string and a laser pointer work just fine. JJ’s main toys are bell balls that sell for 5 bucks a dozen…not exactly breaking the bank there. There an endless cheap ways to entertain and engage your cats.

    None of which has anything to do with the main point. I don’t find safe ways for my cats to express their instincts because marketing tells me to. I do it because that’s my responsibility as a pet owner.

  73. I cannot say how much I disagree with this. I hope that this woman cannot find a rescue group that will allow her to bring home a cat. Her arguments are ridiculous and entirely false!

  74. Lollipoplover – Exactly!! Doesn’t it tell you something that some cats need baby gates and fancy alarm systems to keep them from heading outside the second a door is opened?

    Dogs and cats are actually very different creatures. Dogs are natural pack animals and easily transition from dog pack to human pack. They are content to hang out with humans in exchange for food. Cats are solitary predators whose natural instinct is to roam free, stalk and hunt. They are not as content to simply hang out with humans in exchange for food.

    And, frankly, leaving a dog inside 24/7 is horribly cruel and often results in the animal being removed by animal control. Not sure why we have a different opinion of cats simply because they are smaller than most breeds of dog. A proper dog owner gives their animal daily time outside OFF LEASH. It may be wandering the countryside. It may be in a fenced in yard. It may be in a dog park. But ALL dogs should get time to run outside off leash.

    And some breeds absolutely should not be house dogs. Herding breeds are notoriously bad house pets for the exact reasons MR mentions. They do okay if you have many, many hours to exercise them and give them a job to do (frisbee and agility are particularly good) but otherwise are unhappy, destructive and can turn violent.

    If you are going to own a pet – dog or cat – you need to clearly think through your lifestyle and the pet’s natural instincts and needs and make a responsible decision not just snap up a kitten or puppy because he is so cute. And the responsible decision may, in fact, be to not own a pet. They are not put on the earth to meet our needs and to allow us to do whatever we want with them no matter how miserable it makes them.

  75. Sorry, that should be the same reason Parallel mentions.

  76. Come to think of it… as a New Yorker, I wish Long Island and New Jersey parents would make their kids “indoor kids.” I’m tired of them coming to New York City, fighting and breeding in the streets at all hours of the night and peeing everywhere. Also, they run the risk of being killed by muggers and cars. If you can’t keep your kids indoors until they die, you are irresponsible parents!

    It isn’t hard to keep your children indoors for their whole lives. Simply set them up with a television, video game system, and snacks. They will live much longer lives in the safety of your own home, and the rest of us won’t have to deal with the inconvenience of having them on the streets. Look… if you weren’t prepared to care for your children for the rest of your life, you should have never had them in the first place!

  77. And if the kids simply won’t stay inside, squirt them with water, put locks on doors that they can’t undo and get alarms systems. Do whatever you can to squelch their natural inclination to be outside. It is much better for them in the long run. They will live longer and be happier. Really. We promise.

  78. Well, the biggest problem is cats AS predators. They are devastating to songbird populations. They should be inside.

  79. Humans, too! They kill more animals than cats! Keep them indoors!

  80. @Donna- We visited a Farm B&B where the farmer told the kids about animals having “jobs” to work on the farm. Of course the cows made the milk, the chicken the eggs, but the cats (exclusively outdoor) kept the rodents under control. The animals had a purpose in life, and it was not just to amuse humans by climbing a crappy indoor tree and eating artificial grass.
    Who says we have to turn all of our cats into, for lack of a better term, pussies?
    There are different ways to parent and there are different ways to keep pets. Some cats (like the beautiful story of Saks above) can’t be confined no matter what you try. I say the responsiblility of the pet owner is to be true to the pet, not your own selfish desire to have total control over your cat.

  81. You have to love the species we call human………….We are no different than my three dogs.
    They can be focused on whatever, and all I have to do is throw a ball, and they completely forget what they were doing, in favour of the new distraction.
    In this forum, we have gone from talking about the real issue, to arguing about indoor or outdoor cats.

  82. I agree that cats are not children and should not be treated as such. They can have amazing lives indoors if you take care of them properly. Cats are NOT the low maintenance pet so many people think they are, but when their natural instincts (such as hunting, scratching, and being able to survey their territory from above) are taken care of, they ARE happy indoors. Don’t toss a cat outside because you’re simply too lazy to clean a litterbox or play with them for twenty minutes a day.

    Plus, everyone that’s so insistent on letting cats roam free because it’s their natural instinct seems to forget that it’s the same for dogs and every other animal. Shall we just set dogs loose on the neighborhood like that? How about birds? Hamsters? Snakes?

    If you’re going to have a pet, be mature enough to learn what’s best for it and whether that will fit into your lifestyle BEFORE you decide to become responsible for another creature’s life.

  83. To be clear, I would rather a cat be indoor/outdoor than be dead in a shelter. One of the biggest problems with the shelter system in America is restrictive rules that result in the shelter killing pets because no one can meet their requirements. If the shelter is no kill, the pets end up stuck in cages waiting for the ‘perfect home’ or other animals are turned away because the shelter is full.

    However, I also believe strongly that shelters need to steer people toward the animal that is right for them and their situation. If a person insists on an indoor/outdoor cat, steer them toward a former stray who won’t use a litter box or a known door darter. If they want a barn cat, steer them toward ferals or former ferals.

    As for the difference between dogs and cats…dogs are pack animals, yes. Which means a free roaming dog will usually find other dogs to hang out with (often resulting in a very dangerous situation, as dogs running in a pack tend to be more aggressive.) Most dogs are not hanging out with their owners all day…their owners go to work and the dog is left at home (often in a crate.) You can’t claim that this is allowing the dog to express its natural instincts…most dogs would be much happier if they were allowed to free roam while their owners were at work. Cats are also not as solitary as people assume…there is a reason why ferals live in colonies. They have just as much need for social interaction as dogs.

    Keeping dogs restricted to yards or homes is actually fairly new in this country…it was very common to allow dogs to free roam not very long ago. If you ever read books like Beautiful Joe or My Dog Sam you’ll notice that all of the dogs are free roaming. Dogs that caused trouble were simply disposed of one way or another.

    The only real difference in how we treat cats and dogs is that dogs are capable of causing a greater degree of damage to other persons. They probably cause less damage to the environment then house cats but of course we don’t really care about that, especially if the cat doesn’t bring its prey home. But cats aren’t capable of dragging a person down and killing them. Otherwise they are the same…both are animals that we choose to bring into our home, both have natural instincts that need to be expressed, and both are capable of causing damage to the environment, other persons, and property.

    The point is that dogs have no less natural instincts than cats. Dogs would be better able to express said instincts if left to roam free, especially while their owners are otherwise occupied. Yet we do not consider it cruel to keep a dog at home…we consider it responsible pet ownership.

    And indeed it CAN be cruel to keep an active dog at home without any outlet for the energy. That’s why responsible dog owners exercise their dogs and train them. There are any number of ways to do so, from expensive things like doggy daycare to free things like an afternoon at the dog park.

    So I repeat…why is a cat owner cruel for restricting their pet,exercising them, and training them, but a dog owner is responsible?

    Or think of it this way…I have two fish tanks. I am very invested in caring for them the best way possible, which means weekly water changes, daily water testing, and of course feeding the inhabitants. I do my best to provide my fish and frogs with as natural an environment as possible for their species.

    Should I instead take them down to the nearest pond and dump them in so they can be ‘natural’? Even if they would be invasive species that could cause harm to native species? Even if they would very likely be eaten in short order? Or should I set the tank up in my neighbor’s house? I mean, yeah, I’m the one choosing to own them, but why shouldn’t he have to deal with the ramifications of that choice?

    Or should I live up to my responsibility toward them and try to take care of their needs in the absolute best way I can by providing a safe environment that allows them to express their instincts as much as possible?

  84. Lots of strong feelings here!

    My husband and I ran into the same thing when we tried to adopt a cat years ago. We wanted to let it outside and we were told we were cruel for even thinking that. I grew up on a farm, and that’s just how it was. I don’t see what’s “different now.”

    It depends entirely on where you live. In the city, free-roaming cats are not a good idea. In the suburbs, it is annoying to neighbors.

    There is a greenbelt behind our house. This provides space for any cats to do their business without it being in people’s yards.

    Almost ten years ago, a cat brought her kitten around, begging for food. They were feral. We fed them, (I know, I know, but I couldn’t let them suffer) and the kitten stayed. He’s still “our” cat. The kids love him, as do we, and as he loves us. He’s never lived in the house. We put up a shelter with blankets for him to stay warm in during the winter. (Winters aren’t too harsh here, anyway.) We had him neutered. He is a wonderful pet who doesn’t leave hair in my house and doesn’t require a litter box. We feed him and brush him regularly (he’s long-haired). He is healthy and genuinely seems to be loving life.

    It makes me so happy that we can provide him with a good life, even though he doesn’t live in our house. Bottom line: Do what works for you, and the area where you live. There’d be no hostility over this if people would take their surroundings into consideration and simply do what’s right.

  85. Cats hunt birds and eat them. Not good for the birds.
    Cats sh!t in other people’s yards. Not good for neighborhood relations.
    Cats get run over. Not good for kid/parent relations.
    Cats do contract fatal diseases outside. Not good for the cats.

    If kids were to eat, sh!t and transfer diseases the way cats do they wouldn’t be allowed outside either. I don’t like this comparison at all.

  86. I would really like to know what “fatal diseases” cats contract outside. We’ve had an outdoor cat for almost ten years (see my previous post), and he has been nothing but healthy. He’s never even had fleas! Does it vary based on where you live?

  87. @Ali-

    Kids eat birds- ever heard of chicken nuggets?
    Kids leave their sh!t all over neighborhoods- they are called toys.
    Kids get run over. But they are more likely to get killed INSIDE the car.
    Kids mostly contract diseases from indoor contact- don’t get your point here.

    My MIL was cat- sitting her neighbor’s indoor cat this year. It was quite old and nasty and needed to take it’s medicine so she wrapped the pill in a treat and tried to give it to the cat. The cat chomped down on her hand. She had deep puncture wounds and was put on antibiotics. She went through several courses of oral antibiotics but had to be admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics (she was in for a week). She then needed surgery to remove the Pseudomonas infection tissue in her hand, which required another week in the hospital.
    My point is: Anything can happen, indoors and outside.

  88. Here’s the difference between kids and cats: You can say to a kid “Don’t go into the neighbors’ yard without permission.” “Don’t pee in the neighbors’ sandbox.” “Don’t poop in the pregnant neighbor’s garden – you could give her a dangerous illness.” “Stay away from the house with the kid that is allergic to cats.” – and they will listen (if they don’t, then I would hope you don’t let those particular children outside unattended until they do). A cat will not listen to those things.

    I do believe most housecats – which are different than barncats, btw, as barncats are born outside to a mother that then teaches them how to take care of themselves outside – can take care of themselves outside if needbe. I would say that it is wrong to force housecats into such a position, but that’s irrelevant. Safety of the cats aside, you are at risk of violating your neighbors’ rights if you let your cat outside unattended. Your neighbors have a right to a cat-free yard, with no cat pee/poop on/in their belongings.

    If you live on a farm where your cats would have to walk more of a distance than would be comfortable to get to a neighbor, fine, let them outside. Otherwise, if you wish for your cat to go outside, put them on a leash and take them for a walk.

  89. If you are the owner of the outdoor cat I hit with my car last year…


    I couldn’t sleep for WEEKS after that! I’ve hit rabbits and other small animals without a problem… Hell, I watched a moose get hit and didn’t have the PTSD I had from hitting YOUR DAMN PET.

    Ugh. It still kills me that I had to go through that. 😦

  90. I think Lenore’s comparison is absolutely valid. And I do think those rattle on & on about how responsible cat owners keep their cat inside over coyotes etc are no different than the judgmental busy-bodies saying you should keep your kids inside because of predators. Just as those who claim the world is FULL of predators are someone to whom I reply “I don’t believe you,” I will say the same thing. The world is really that full of coyotes? Sorry, I don’t believe you.

    I agree with those who state that even IF a cat lives longer indoors vs outdoors, better (say) 8 years of life outdoors than 12 years of life indoors all the time. It’s just not natural.

    As for other people’s animals trespassing into your yard–I will say, I agree with those that say “keep your animal out of my yard.” How one reconciles that with letting animals roam, well that’s tricky, but I am big on that someone who, say, doesn’t like cats shouldn’t have to tolerate the presence of a cat on their own private property. I am big on private property “sovereignty.” I take it seriously myself. Cats don’t bother me, but dogs do, especially yappy noisy ones, or big aggressive ones. If one is easy-going & not prone to getting irritated over a cat or dog on their place, that’s great–but if they hate their presence, they shouldn’t have to tolerate them. (We let our cat roam & no one cares, but if they expressed aggravation over it, I feel it would be my place to either keep our cat fenced-in our living space somehow, or find it a new home.)

    Where we live, and this will upset some people but I don’t care, but where we live, which is way out in the boonies, many will go so far as to shoot & kill certain animals which represent a nuisance, strays especially, or animals like armadillos, which love to get into your outdoor-stored dog food (storing dog food indoors isn’t viable because it tends to attract mice to the indoors of your house). Shooting of a neighbor’s pet over irritations isn’t common, but shooting them over dangers IS.

    Frankly, I have no problem with that–if you (say) own pit bulls and they keep coming onto my property scaring my kids who are playing outdoors, why should I be compelled to keep my kids indoors because you can’t keep your dogs on your own property? I agree, dogs need some “off-leash” time, but not on other people’s property ransacking my things or scaring my children. If your dogs keep coming onto my place scaring my kids, I don’t see where shooting them is any different than, say, setting mousetraps or spraying for bugs. In fact, where we live, the law allows for this, as well it should.

    Heck, where it concerns coyotes, if I had that many coming in my yard, then I’d be inclined to shoot & kill them myself, if it represented a threat to my property. Where did we get this reverence for wildlife that goes further than what makes common sense to the point that we tolerate such nonsense when it can be eliminated? I’m sorry, but this whole “you chose to live in their territory” is a bunch of hogwash to me. To me, humans rule over animals, they should fit into our schemes, not the other way around.


  91. @Sarah that your cat hasn’t gotten any diseases is anecdotal evidence. I’ve never gotten cancer, but people do get cancer.

    Here are a few: That doesn’t mean your cat will get any of these, and proper immunization can help a lot. It’s just a risk factor. Just like kids, you can’t protect cats from everything. Your cat could strangle itself on a shade cord inside.

    That said, I stand by my claim that if you live in an urban environment with close neighbors, then being gleeful about “no litterbox!” is selfish and inconsiderate.

  92. Okay, humour me here, because I’ve never had a cat, only dogs, but every dog I’ve ever had has been allowed outside, within the confines of our large, fenced backyard. Is a standard chain-link fence not enough to keep a cat in the yard as well?

  93. Sorry, but I’ve got to agree with those who think indoor kids and indoor pets are NOT a good comparison. Despite hysteria, the numbers of kid-predators have not gone up since our free-range childhoods. The number of cat-, small dog- and bunny-munching predators now making themselves comfortable in urban and near-urban environments? Yes, that number has absolutely gone up. I live in LA and I have seen plenty of coyotes casually jogging across parking lots in the wee hours. Hawks, too. And apparently there was a mama bear with two cubs in Pasadena yesterday. Oy. My bunnies NEVER leave the house.

  94. @Rich Wilson, thank you for the information.

    To be clear, I wasn’t presenting evidence. I was genuinely asking the question since it has never happened to my cat.

  95. @Emily nope, cats will climb over fences, up trees and etc. and jump to the other side of the fence, etc.

  96. “Otherwise, if you wish for your cat to go outside, put them on a leash and take them for a walk.”

    I am fairly certain that my cats would pee on my pillow if I put them on a leash.

  97. Out door kids and out door cats are two seperate issues. Cats are second only to habitat destruction as a cause of song bird decline. This is hardly news. Cats have been implicated for decades in this. It’s why we’ve been fighting for years to ban free-range cats.

  98. I’m having a lot of trouble posting comments since it stopped allowing me to just type in my email and needs a log in to wordpress or twitter or something… It says it posted, but I can’t see it. 😦 Not sure what is going on today.

  99. We live in the country and there are definitely coyotes around here. But it is amazing! The cats live! They eat mice! We love them being outdoors. They are animals with fur and teeth and claws. Actually, I had one cat declawed so our new couch wouldn’t get shredded and it was horrible to watch that poor cat try and walk around on her very sore paws. I have watched my outdoor cats try and catch a bird and it is rare for them to catch one. And it is sad when they do. But I do love it when they catch a mouse. It is their JOB (I feed them and they take care of the mice). And we have hawks around but it is amazing! My little dog has never been eaten by a hawk. And she is MUCH HEALTHIER living outdoors – has lost weight and is much happier and has lots of friends now – even the cats are her friends.They are all survivors – just like my family. We learn how to survive in the “jungle” called life. And my daughter is allergic to dog and cat hair so we are all much healthier with the animals outside.

  100. Cats, just like kids, need to come in at dark. That helps keep them from getting hit by cars and eaten by coyotes (the cats anyhow.)

  101. Sarah, it actually does depend on your location in some respects. FIV is a feline disease that effects the immune system, similar to HIV in humans. FeLV is a very deadly disease that is easily transmitted from cat to cat. Both are much more common in the US than in the UK by quite a magnitude. We also have rabies and the UK does not (due to efforts to eliminate it.) So certainly your country has a big effect on what diseases your cat is likely to be exposed to.

    There’s other differences as well. Cats in the UK won’t be facing coyotes, for example. Foxes would be a bigger issue, but foxes are less likely to prey on cats (they aren’t much bigger than a cat, for one.)

    What does remain the same of course is people and cars, with cars of course being the biggest killer of free roaming cats in either country.

    Several people have mentioned putting a bell on the cat’s collar to stop them from catching birds. There’s actually been a number of studies that suggest this is not actually effective…the cat simply learns to stalk without sounding the bell. Some studies suggested it actually makes the cat better hunters, as they are forced to move more quietly. Some studies have found that cats with bells caught less prey overall, but all studies found they did continue to kill birds.

    What you have to remember is that the US has over 7 million cats. When your cat catches one bird, it’s easy to dismiss it as just the circle of life or ‘oh, well, can’t be helped.” But it isn’t just one cat and one bird…it’s 500 million birds a year (and this is only the birds brought home, which again is only a third to a fourth of those caught). And your cat can’t tell the difference between an invasive starling and a rare Florida scrub jay.

    Here’s the other difference between kids and cats and free range parenting…the entire argument with free range parenting is that the danger ISN’T as high as people think. The message of free range parenting isn’t put your kid outside and let them face the innumerable dangers that will almost surely kill them young. The message is that kids outside are SAFE…the risk of them being attacked or taken is miniscule.

    The fact that pro-outdoor cat people in these comments are arguing that a shorter lifespan outside is better than a longer life indoors is proof of how different the two situations are. We KNOW that letting kids free range in certain circumstances is incredibly unlikely to get them killed or hurt. And how do we know that? Well, crime rates and other statistics give us a pretty good idea of the risk level. In the same way, we KNOW that letting cats free range IS incredibly likely to get them killed. That doesn’t mean that no kid will ever be taken walking home from school or that no outdoor cat will ever live to an old age.

    Now, you can still decide that the very likely risk of death or injury is worth the freedom. I won’t agree with you, but okay. But there’s no way the two situations are comparable unless you are saying that letting kids free range IS exposing them to a high statistical risk of danger…which is the very opposite of what the free range movement is trying to teach.

    For the record, I was raised free range and I feel absolutely blessed that this was so. My cats were not (and never will be.)

  102. @Parallel :Well said, thanks for supplying some of the bird stats.

  103. According to information that my daughter found last year while doing research on windmills for electricity, more birds are killed by windows, especially on the new shiny high rises, than anything else. Including cats. But I don’t see people banning the buildings or even complaining.

  104. My 2nd post, but I am sorry, I feel I need to repost.

    To me, I think a large part of the problem here is the very notion that we SHOULD protect cats from dangerous animals outdoors. I’m going to really be seen as “out there” by a lot of people, but I’m going to say it anyway–I am not so sure we SHOULD be going that much out of our way to protect cats, dogs, whatever from the outdoor elements. (I’m assuming an “out in the country” living environment more than a “concrete jungle” environment.)

    I’m not so sure that the “normal” way isn’t to just do the best you can WITHOUT keeping them cooped up indoors all the time, and if something happens to your cat or whatever, then guess what: maybe it was meant to die. Maybe it’s just “natural selection” and nature just doing what is absolutely normal.

    I mean, really. Where did we get the idea that we should take animals like cats, dogs, pick your pet, set it apart from nature & all the NATURAL consequences that will occur without our intervention, and have those particular animals ALONE be exempt from the forces of nature which are, well, natural? I guess we decided we LIKED cats because they’re cute, but racoons are ugly, so the cat wins.

    If we REALLY are serious about protecting cats from any danger, it shouldn’t be limited to keeping them outdoors. If coyotes really are that big of a risk (and I really don’t believe that anyone who says they ARE is really being rational in their thinking), why not wipe out all coyotes from the face of the earth? If cats really are the preferred animal, the one we think is cute vs a coyote, how come the coyote gets to enjoy the outdoors unfettered by human caging, but the adorable cat is the one sentenced to a lifetime of domestic incarceration?

    It should be one of two ways (a) either the cat is special, so we wipe out all coyotes everywhere except National Forest/nature preservations (why is my browser telling me that word’s misspelled?) so that the act can live a NORMAL life without this danger OR (b) we recognize that cats are no more important or precious than coyotes, stay out of the way, and allow nature and natural selection to take its course.

    Kids, now that’s obviously different, you don’t take a child & dump in the middle of nowhere and just let nature take its course, but that’s different because, well, they’re human. Frankly, if I or anyone here has to explain to someone how human life is more valuable than animal life, then we have a long ways to go, because that much should be obvious.


  105. The predators that my cat may face are real, and much more numerous than the predators that my kids may in a tiny fraction, face.

    I know for a fact that we have coyotes and mountain lions, and even some owls. We have dogs that roam around, some known to kill other animals. I hope that my cat will come when I call, but he doesn’t always.

    On the other hand, we are overrun with mice. I could put out poison and keep the cat inside. But then the dogs that guard our ducks and geese may find the dead bodies, and in the way that dogs do, eat the stinky dead mouse and get sick or dead. Also, ducks have been known from time to time to eat mice. We currently have mice in our RV and two vehicles that the kids have spilled food in. It is a royal pain in the rear. I wish I had more cats that would catch mice. My cat goes out, and in about 2 minutes be back with a mouse. We also live in an area with juanta virus – a friend was telling me how a coworker of hers got it and died in a week. I think that I will let the cat catch as many as he wants. Juanta scares me more than any person on or off the registry and is a bigger reality in our area and with having feed and such around.

    But, all this is based on where I live now. In other places, my cats only went out on leashes because of neighbors who complained (rightly I think) about cat footprints on their newly washed new cars. It is good to be considerate of your neighbors, be it cats and their poop in the neighbors garden, or kids picking all the flowers from the neighbor’s well kept garden.

  106. I’m going to have to disagree with this comparison as well. Playing outside is GOOD for kids, it’s healthy, gives them confidence, makes them smarter. The serious risk to them, as we know, is quite small. On the other hand, cats have been domesticated as pets. The dangers that face them when allowed to be outdoors are real and many, not to mention unfair to an animal that has been bred to rely on humans providing for them. At the same time, their hunting instincts remain, making them the number one threat to local wildlife in Southern California. A better comparison would be: would you let your parakeet out to fly free and comehome when it wants? Probably not. Kids outdoors…yes! Pets…no.

  107. Crazycatlady- this is one of the most common arguments used to excuse allowing pet cats to kill native species. It often takes the form of “but humans kill more birds through farming then cats!”

    This is akin to saying cancer kills more people than AIDS, so why did we ever put money into AIDS research? Or starvation kills more people, so why get upset over war crimes?

    The fact that other things kill birds doesn’t mean our cats don’t have a huge effect on bird populations. It also doesn’t excuse us from the responsibility when our cats kill. Just because other bad things globally exist doesn’t ever excuse us from responsibility for our choices on an individual level.

    (As for birds and windows…this is why I have reflectors on my windows. I do this because I feed birds and thus have a large backyard bird population. I also provide bird houses designed not to appeal to invasive species. Just because a problem exists doesn’t mean I have to choose to be part of it.)

    LRH…Unless you are proposing that we don’t not spay or neuter our cats, natural selection has nothing to do with it. Natural selection is about passing on the best genes to the next population. Since most house pets are altered (as they should be), this isn’t a concern.

    The difference between a coyote and a cat is that the cat is my responsibility. I made the decision to bring that animal into my home. Just as I am responsible when I choose to have a kid, I am responsible for the life of that individual animal. The kid will grow and begin to take on responsibility for his or her self. Eventually they will take over full responsibility for their own life. The cat will always be my responsibility.

    Responsibility is a choice. If you don’t want the responsibility of a pet, don’t take it on. This is like saying you should put your pet hamster out back and if he dies, well, it was natural. Except there’s nothing natural about a hamster in the environment of the US…just like cats, they are not a native species. There’s nothing natural about cars. Even high coyote populations are not natural…they are on the increase because of human activity. There’s nothing natural about even the concept of a pet cat. There’s certainly nothing natural about vaccines or spaying/neutering.

    Or, if you want to argue that cars and increased coyote populations are natural because humans are part of nature, then nothing we do is unnatural- including protecting our pets.

    So the natural argument simply doesn’t stand well. To be ‘natural’ you’d have to remove all cats from the US (since they aren’t a native species.) Or at the very least you’d have to leave them intact, never vaccinate them, and never feed them. Only then would you get ‘natural selection.’

    My JJ was found as a kitten with both eyes hugely swollen to the point he couldn’t close them. He was emaciated and on the verge of death…in fact, the plan was to euthanize him. It wasn’t ‘natural’ to save him by any means…but then, of course, it wasn’t ‘natural’ that his feral mother had been run down by a car. Heck, it wasn’t even ‘natural’ for me to work in the veterinary clinic that treated him that night, since to be ‘natural’ we should never treat animals for illness or injury.

    Eight years and roughly 25,000 dollars later, he brings a smile to my face each and every day. Thank god I didn’t do the natural thing and let him die.

    This is the other common argument…that it is ‘natural’ to let cats roam free. Except it really isn’t (again, naturally they wouldn’t even exist here) and we don’t worry about staying natural with the many, many other things we do for and to our pets. So why start there?

  108. Comparing cats and kids is a little silly. My kids go outside. My cat does not unless we are with her in the back yard. My kids understand danger. My cat does not and would probably get attacked by a wild animal or hit by a car. My kids wold be miserable if they couldn’t go outside. My cat will not go out without coaxing even if we leave the back door open. If my kids are not taught to be responsible and how to handle themselves on their own the will have a hard time as adults. My cat doesn’t know how to protect herself and she is perfectly fine. My cat was the runt of the litter and would likely have died if her mother hadn’t been rescued. She has no desire to hunt real thing and never has. First time she saw a spider she jumped on the coffee table and wouldn’t come down until we killed it. We had a mouse walk in our front door once and she turned around and ran. We had to buy a trap! She is a super happy cat. She always has a smile on her face (for those who never had a cat, they do smile, I have had people not believe me that she smiles until they have seen it) and is always purring. She is quite content to climb her artificial tree, chase paper balls (her favorite toy) and chase our 95lb dog. Do I care that my cat grew up to be a “scardy cat”, absolutly not. I would however care if my kids grew up that way. These are two totally different debates. I know cats that are happy inside and cats that are not. Sometimes the owner doesn’t really get to choose, cats tend to do what they want in that regard. If you are going to let them outside, please get them fixed. I live in the county and we get all the cats and kittens people don’t want in the city dropped here. Unfourtunatly many people think it is better to drop them than bring them to a shelter. We have such a huge abandoned cat problem where I live the county passed by-laws that anyone caught dropping an animal can face huge fines.

  109. Just to add…I would agree the coyote and the cat both have equal value. Just like my mom has equal value to every other person in the world. But if I had to choose, I’m going to save my mom’s life over that of a stranger’s. Why? Well, obviously because I love her…and because she’s my responsibility. That’s the clearest way I can explain the difference.

  110. Well, Lenore, I’m sorry to see it seems you’ve smashed a hornet’s nest and the wasps are swarming all over the place. I’ve for sometime been convinced that a lot of people in this country have lost all sense & perspective about animals, they attach an unhealthy amount of importance to certain animals (to the exclusion of others) and have goofed-up in terms of realizing that unless they THREATEN us it really isn’t our place to interfere with what they’re doing and that nature knows best and we ought to just leave it at that.

    Instead many are so in-love with their precious kitties and puppies they’ve lost all sense (if I hear one more person with this apparent disorder classify their dog or cat as “just like one of the family” I swear I’m going to lose it), & think that unless you totally deprive yourself of any sense of your own life (as well as suffocating your pet’s natural existence and habits) while spending every minute doing around the clock 24/7 supervision of your pet to protect them from EVERYTHING, you’re an unfit animal owner.

    Your post has totally proven this, I’m sad to say.

    I say–let nature take its course. If a cat eats a songbird, so what? Where do we get the idea that songbird needed PROTECTION from the cat? I see no difference in that versus when a mountain lion eats a deer. Are we going to stop the orbit of the planet, round up all the deer, and protect them from mountain lions? If not, what’s the difference here?

    If a coyote eats your cat or puppy, it was time for your cat or puppy to go. The coyote was hungry, your cat or puppy was its dinner. There was nothing for you to do about it, if you protected your cat, you interfered with natural selection. If that sounds cold–well, yes it is cold, but then so is natural selection. Animals have been eating each other since the beginning of time, and while there’s nothing wrong with loving your pet, the idea that you must protect it from everything, especially natural selection, is pure poppy cock.

    Sorry, but Lenore’s right. The rest of you are way off.


  111. The difference has been explained to you. If a mountain lion eats a American White Tailed deer in a forest in Florida, that is ‘natural’ because mountain lions are the natural predator of the White Tailed deer.

    If an AFRICAN lion eats an American White Tailed deer in a forest in Florida, something has gone badly wrong and ‘nature’ or ‘natural selection’ had nothing to do with it.

    Cats are NOT natural. Without human intervention they never would have existed. Since we intervened in creating them, we might as well keep intervening to keep them alive and protect the NATIVE, NATURAL species they hunt.

    And I suppose you do extend it to every other pet animal, from hamsters to parakeets to horses? Because it is absolutely natural in every way to darken the skies with hundreds of thousands of non-native birds. And if the parakeets die in the Northern winter, that’s just nature taking its course? And of course it’s natural for a horse to get hit by a car?

    You also didn’t respond to any of the points about vaccinating or altering…so I assume you’re good with the population explosion that will result when we all do the ‘natural’ thing and stop spaying and neutering our pets.

    I’m sorry, but there’s zero logic in this. I’m actually a little stunned at how anyone could consider this a logical argument.

  112. Don’t know what to say other than if we keep going down this road, we’ll raise (or not, that’s the problem) a generation of adults and cats who won’t know how to fend for themselves and will get sick or traumatized and die at the smallest virus, germ, incident. Maybe some of the cats will have kittens who’ll then learn to fend for themselves anyway. But what of the grown children?! Who’s going to raise their kids?!

  113. I can’t even read quite all of these, but the whole all or nothing argument really makes me not want to come back to this blog, and that’s awful.

    I’ve always been very struck by the difference in the UK and US cat culture (and I’m in the US). To address some of the previous comments: all my indoor/outdoor cats (over the last 30 years) lived to be 15 to 20, dying of natural causes. If you have cats spraying and having babies in your yard, they are neglected cats/poorly “parented”; hardly an apt comparison. Cats do not bring home fleas (or bubonic plague) if they have proper flea/tick prevention applied. Of course it depends on where you live – no coyotes in my sub (though the areas of the city with creeks running through do have more wildlife), my street is one block long. And I DO have neighbor children who shriek outside after 10 pm (love the fact that they play outside, but really? I think the ‘rents don’t hear them b/ they’re inside watching TV).

    And if you don’t like cats, I guess you don’t like cats (may as well ‘fess up). Maybe you put chemicals on your perfectly pristine lawn, too. I don’t like dogs – I get bags of poop scoop put in my yard waste can next to my garage, sometimes we see it on the sidewalk (and all the dogs around here are leashed).

    Okay, cats kill songbirds. Are robins and bluejays etc. becoming endangered? What else would their natural predators be, since we’ve made owls and such much less available. I’m thinking that it weed out the stupid ones. Reminds me of the study that determined that there is fecal matter left behind on people’s underwear washed in a washing machine. Okay. but is anyone actually getting sick from their underwear? Only perhaps if you’re seriously immunocompromised.

    I inherited a cat from my mom; he’d been an indoor cat b/c of her location near a busy highway. He’d also been a plant-eating, under-the-bed kind of mama’s boy scaredy cat until he started sneaking out my catdoor. After 2 years of green therapy (and he used to get fresh greens prior to all this) he is a completely different animal. Truly astonishing. If your cats is truly happy inside or your living circumstances really do not allow, that’s one thing,

    The European way of life transplanted to the Americas is not “native” any more that cats. The planet evolves.

    I love my cats to pieces; they are family members, but quality of life is seriously important, folks. I need to go free range parent my kids and cats now, and maybe not come back here.

  114. Parallel If people vaccinate cats to prevent them from exploding in numbers, that’s fine and responsible. But to me that’s not the same as FORCING a cat to spend its entire life indoors because of the risk of something possibly happening to it in the context of it living its natural life in nature. I agree with George Carlin who observed that we ought to just leave nature alone and quit interferring with it.

    Beyond that–frankly, I think the fact that you had no problem spending $25,000 on a cat speaks volumes. It’s your money & your business how you spend it (although I personally find that sort of misplacement of priorities almost insane), but it should come as no surprise that someone who is willing to spend that insane amount of money on a cat, of COURSE such a person is going to think you’re obligated to practically make your life all about your cat or dog even if means confining them to a prison inside the house all of the time and never letting them experience the joys of the outdoors.


  115. @ Parallel Could not agree more.
    @LRH songbirds need protection because their numbers are plummeting, mainly due to human behavior, including the choice to keep cats. The 24/7 reference is crazy. All you have to do to keep most cats inside is grow some and lock the door. Yeah, they whine if they were used to being outside, but a responsible caregiver has to provide the best environment, not just give in to what the critter (or kid) wants all the time. They stop being unhappy if you give them more attnetion inside.I do believe

  116. young/athletic/smart cats are happy with some outside time. You can train them to come in at dinner, when you call them ,etc. But if you move to a busy street or one with roaming dogs, or as they
    approach old age, it is time to rethink what is best. Finally, there is nothing natural about most of our pets. A chihuahua is barely a dog, much less a wolf, any more than my Burmese is a mountain lion. They have been selected unnaturally for cuteness and sweetness for way too many generations. The coyotes I see on my way to work are not so selected.

  117. danan I would respectfully submit that, regardless of one’s fondness for songbirds, it’s up to them to find a way to adapt to the environment that exists. If they can’t, and they cease to exist–oh well. “Saving endangered species is just one more arrogant attempt by humans to control nature. It’s arrogant meddling. It’s what got us in trouble in the first place.” George Carlin (Yes I realize George Carlin was not a biologist, & I disagree with him about many things, but on this, I couldn’t agree with him more.)

    As for cats being kept indoors, I hate to break it to you sweetie, but it’s almost to “grow some.” Last time I checked, you can’t go down to the local plant garden greenhouse and expect any intelligent response were you to say “excuse me, can you help me, I’ve been advised I need to ‘grow a pair’ how do I go about doing that?”

    And who’s to say that being indoors is what is BEST for a cat anyway? Who’s to say that unless I turn into a 24/7 drill sergeant and treat my house like it’s Ft Knox (cats can slip out VERY VERY easily despite the most determined acts of vigilance) that I need to change? If that is what is expected of someone in order to be a responsible pet owners, they can stuff it.

    Besides, it seems to me many here have told their story of how their cat BENEFITED from being outdoors. Moreover, if you want to put your life on permanent pause, stop what you’re doing and give your cat your undivided attention to placate them wanting to go outside, well frankly you raise your cat your way, I’ll raise my cat my way.


  118. Obviously, making an analogy between cats and kids does not mean the author thinks cats and kids are exactly the same. The comparison was made between the rational presented by the adoption staff to keep cats inside to protect the cat and the shift in parenting to keep kids safe at all costs. Avoid all ridk. The arguments presented by many for keeping cats inside because cats kill song birds, poop in garden beds, spray neighbors’ yards, and leave foot prints on cars are entirely separate. More similar to arguing kids should not be given freedom because they will shoplift, vandalize property, or go around killing all these free roaming cats for fun.

    It is a good point that, unlike kids, the goal is not to have a cat grow up to become an independent and productive member of society.
    Taking some risk is important because we want kids to grow up to be competent and confident. Anyway, the analogy seemed to me to be related to protecting at all cost. Avoid all risk, no matter the cost – regardless of the experiences will be missed.

    (I think spaying/neutering is a different issue and would argue is absolutely part of being a responsible pet owner).

  119. Taradlion Thanks for bringing it back home. I do think that is what Lenore was getting at. Lenore wasn’t trying to stir up the wrath of the more passionate cat lovers (frankly, I find such people to be borderline mental cases if you ask me) and get into the merits of how one should raise their cats. She was merely saying that the arguments you heard in the example cited are strikingly similar to what has been observed with kids. Maybe the point has been forwarded that some outdoor time is good for cats, or that a generation ago more people let their cats go outside (but “times are different now”) and perhaps attitudes have changed there much as they have with kids (another parallel), but beyond that, she hasn’t at all, in my view, tried to advocate for a specific style of cat or pet ownership so much as she has tried to draw some parallels.

    But like I said, the more “passionate” cat lovers are not the most rational bunch of people to try to debate anything with. These are the same cases that will gladly donate insane sums to an unsolved abused-animal case (not that I agree with abuse you understand) but not do likewise for the case of, say, a child with a life-threatening medical condition whose parents can’t afford the $200,000 surgery.


  120. I live in Brazil, and here we do not have wild animals assaulting backyards, but we do have a crowd that hates cats and WILL hurt them the worse ways possible. And cars. It is very hard to teach the average population that fixing cats and dogs is vital to control the ferals and stop cruelty.
    I do think cats should stay indoors. At least I never heard of any cat that developed depression or anything like that for staying at home only. We have this famous NGO and all the cats adopted from them are quite happy, even having a street-life background.

    That said, what happens in Brazil about kids depends on how much money you have and your social position. Poorer areas will not have helicopter parents for obvious reasons, while mid classes and higher tend to overprotect children. But just tend. It is not a rule.

    Still, I do not think the comparison was fair, because as said above, kids will learn exactly what they can and cant do and how to avoid/deal with danger. Cats won´t.

  121. LRH- you can’t in the same paragraph state that vaccinating cats is responsible and fine (and vaccination does not prevent population explosion- I’ll assume you meant altering) AND that it is wrong to keep cats indoor because it isn’t ‘natural.’ Your entire argument was that ‘natural’ life and ‘natural selection’ are more important than anything else- but even you admit that there are times when we should intervene with ‘nature.’ As I said, your argument holds no logic, which is why you can’t even follow that logic through one paragraph.

    And yes, it is my money, which I was more than happy to spend. My priorities will always be living things over non-living, and will always be my own responsibilities over anyone or anything else. My cat actually does experience the outdoors everyday…he’s leash trained and loves going for walks.

  122. Parallel I’m not going to engage in a battle of logic with you. Clearly the thinking exists, outside of only me, that some things are best left for nature to handle in the natural realm, some things are best dealt with in an intervention sort of way. It is my opinion (and I’m not the only one who stated this) that spaying/neutering is a separate thing from natural selection causing a coyote to consume your $25,000 ball of fur for dinner. You can sit here all day and argue “the logic doesn’t hold water”–to me, I say it does, and that alone means that it does.

    If you want to argue that one is required to turn their house into Fort Knox and obtain a level of vigilance in guarding the door to an extreme extent that can only be considered obsessive and psychotic in order to be a responsible pet owner, knock yourself out. Plenty of other people see nothing wrong with letting a cat go outdoors (without leash-training) & live that style of life, and STILL say the cat owner was being responsible–and frankly I’m going to consider their opinion more reasonable.

    I never thought that this posting would show just how smart and logical Lenore is and also just how freaking ridiculous an AWFUL LOT of people out there are, but it has done exactly that. There is no reasoning with these sorts of people–to them, cats are practically God, we might as well erect a statue & bow down even–the rest of us mere peons can’t compare to the importance & sacredness of a cat. Where I come from, that’s idolatry, even borderline psycho-mania frankly.


  123. Way back when in college, my old sweetheart had a cat which she kept in her dorm room (against the rules). She’d occasionally take it to other places and it would occasionally dart out the door but, for the most part, it lived it’s life indoors. But it would spend it’s days looking out the window.

    Well, one day, I suggested we take the cat outside. We got a leash in case it tried to dart off and we sat in the grass with the cat. The cat didn’t move. Now, I know that cats generally don’t like things like leashes so I thought, let’s take off the leash and see what happens. We’ll just sit and watch and if it looks like it’s about to take off, we’ll try to grab it. So we removed the leash.


    The cat looked really freaked out. “Where are the walls? Where is the ceiling?! What’s this green stuff!?!? Where the Hell am I?!?!?”

    We ended up with an agoraphobic cat. It was both cute and kinda sad.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with “indoor cats.” But the expectation–we won’t let you have one of our cats unless you keep it indoors–is a bit off-putting.

  124. LRH- No, “to me, I say it does, therefore it does” isn’t how logic works. That’s how opinions work.

    You have failed to address ANY of the logical fallacies in your argument. You have failed to address why it applies to cats but not animals like parakeets, hamsters, or horses. You have failed to address vaccination (since you meant altering) or taking any medical care of animals at all (I do assume we should let every animal that gets sick just die with no treatment, even a .50 cent pill?). You have failed to address how natural selection cannot apply to neutered or spayed animals. You have failed to address that cats are NOT native species and that their presence in the environment is not natural. You have failed to address that by keeping pets we intervene with nature, so there is no reason to stop that intervention at any given point.

    Other people were arguing that keeping a cat indoors deprives them on opportunities to exercise their natural instincts. I may not agree, but that is a logical argument. Your argument was that interfering with ‘natural selection” (which again by definition cannot apply) was somehow wrong and that is ‘natural’ for non-native predators to drive native prey to extinction. You accuse me of worshiping cats, while at the same time worshiping at the altar of the ‘natural world’- it is more important to remain ‘natural’ than to safeguard the animals you have responsibility for.

    What you are really arguing is that the death or loss of a cat isn’t that big a deal…which again, okay, I’m obviously not going to agree, but as an opinion that is your own. I can’t refute it, as much as I may think differently. But the rest of it makes absolutely no sense.

    As for the whole Fort Knox thing…really? You really think my blind cat is running out doors constantly? Funny enough, I’ve lived with many cats, including door dashers, and simple precautions or training took care of the problem. If you can’t outwit a cat, that is hardly a reflection on the feline.

  125. Parallel Please, enough already. I’m tired of arguing with such an idiot. Anyone who would spend $25,000 on a cat deserves nothing but ignoring. I’ve wasted enough energy on you as it is.


  126. Let me translate that for you- you can’t refute any of the points. That’s okay, I knew that already. 🙂

  127. No, I’m not INTERESTED in refuting any of your points because I have better things to do than to engage you in that way. I also don’t think the points NEED refuting–I believe what I believe, and that’s that. Even if the logic doesn’t match up, it doesn’t change my mind. If you choose to believe that I’m not following logical sense, believe it–I don’t give a rip.

    Does that mean you won? No. Does it mean I won? No. It means you believe what you believe, and I believe what I believe. Regardless, your mind is made up–you believe it is the responsibility of a cat owner to keep their cat indoors 24/7 and that a cat escaping said pet owner’s house is a reflection of poor intelligence or management on the part of the owner, whereas I & many others see it as merely a normal part of life for a cat owner not necessarily indicative of poor cat-watching habits. Heck, many of us here think you’re doing a cat a disservice to not let it outdoors WITHOUT a leash. We believe it, out of sound mind & body, and aren’t interested in logic dissection as if we have to PROVE we’re right. We KNOW we’re right.


  128. What I believe is that my actions should be based on logic as much as possible, not opinion. I look at facts, statistics, and whatever other data may be available. If I am presented with new data, I revise my actions accordingly. I have never stood by a belief unwaveringly simply because ‘that’s my belief’

    Looking at facts and data tells me that free range children are safe- the risk is incredibly low. Looking at facts and data tells me that free range cats are not- the risk is incredibly high (more so in the US than the UK.)

    The only part belief plays in the risk assessment. One parent may feel that a less than 1% risk of abduction is too much to bear. I won’t agree, but at least they would be basing that belief on hard data. One cat owner may feel the high risk of death or injury (and the predation on songbirds) is worth the freedom to the cat- again, not going to agree but at least it would be a belief based on real data.

    The entire Free Range Children movement is built around trying to get people to use logic and facts, not emotional arguments. Most parents are not looking at the data at all- they are assuming the risk is much, much higher than it is. They are unable to make a logical calculation of risks and benefits.

    So here at last we see how free range cats and free range children can be the same. Not in the cats and kids, but in their caretakers. Some will look at the available data and make a careful assessment of risk. They may come down on different sides of the issue, but at least they can talk to each other.

    Some will fall to ‘beliefs’ instead of logic, like the belief that children are at great risk from pedophiles on every street corner or the belief that an altered cat being eaten by a coyote is somehow connected to natural selection. There can be no conversation there because a belief is an act of faith- it’s a miniature religion. Very rarely can it be changed, even in the face of hard data. Those who depend on beliefs instead of facts are also much more likely to become defensive and angry, as you have well proven by resorting to juvenile insults.

    So perhaps the interesting thing to learn from this conversation is how the belief systems of ‘helicopter’ parents are dependent upon just that…beliefs without facts. And perhaps the lash-back you often see when children are allowed to free range is less about worry over the child’s safety and more about beliefs being threatened.

    To be very clear, I am NOT saying that anyone who lets their cat outside is operating without data. I don’t have to agree with a person’s decision to see that it was based on a calculated risk assessment. If a person chooses to allow their pet outside after considering their environment, the pet’s safety, their neighbor’s comfort, and the effects on native wildlife, that’s one thing.

    But on the other hand you have people who make the choice based on belief instead of logic- belief that cat predation on native species is ‘natural’, belief that ‘nature’ shouldn’t be interfered with when having a pet is itself interference, that being outdoors is the ONLY way for a cat to express its instincts (it’s different to believe it is the BEST way), that cats don’t kill enough birds to make a difference, or even the belief that all indoor cats will become obese. All of these things can be refuted with logic or proven incorrect with hard data.

    All of these being comparable to beliefs like all men are predators, a child walking alone will be snatched, or crime has risen.

    (And there are people on the indoor only cat side that are following beliefs instead of data as well…such as those who argue that a UK cat is at risk for disease. They failed to look at the data and realize the most lethal diseases are not an issue in the UK at the present time.)

    And the question in the end is when you have a society depending on faith (crime has risen! oh no!) instead of facts (violent crime is dropping across the board) HOW do you get them to examine the data? Especially when people are prone to feeling defensive when their beliefs are threatened?

    I would be very interested in hearing why non-free range parents made the switch to free range. I know we’ve heard from some, but I wonder if there’s a common tipping point and if people who made the switch to free range would consider themselves to be more logical thinkers overall. Was it simply matter of never seeking out the data? I know I certainly never had reason to suspect the US wasn’t as crime invested as the media made it seem. Was it a matter, in other words, of exchanging one set of (false) data for the true, or are their people who exchanged a strong belief for facts, and if so what gave them the push to do so?

  129. “Cats are also not as solitary as people assume…there is a reason why ferals live in colonies. They have just as much need for social interaction as dogs.”

    Actually only female feral cats and juveniles live in colonies. Adult male feral cats are solitary. Which means that half the feral cat population is solitary and half the feral cat population is social.

    “Yet we do not consider it cruel to keep a dog at home…”

    It is indeed exceedingly cruel to keep a dog at home if home is a 1,400 square foot home that they are never allowed to step foot out of except maybe into a smaller cage in a yard. That is is the life that a house cat is confined to. We would think that cruel to do to any dog.

    My dog, on the other hand, has unlimited access to the 1,400 sq ft house and the 1/4 acre that it sits on. He also gets to go for a walk outside that area at least once a day and that walk almost always involves being let completely off his leash to run in a park for a half hour. He also gets trips to several local nature trails where he can roam leash-free for as long as I care to walk. He can go visit my mother in the country where he roams free until we go home. If he were a dog-social dog, he would have access to over 7 acres of dog parks around town where he could run in packs of dogs off-leash. If he were a swimmer, he would have access to 2 rivers – and places to run off-leash in them.

    So, yes, both a house cat and a dog are limited in some way. However comparing those limitations is like a lion living in a zoo vs. living in Maasai Mara National Reserve. Yes, both have limitations and interventions not present in natural life but one is a whole helluva lot better than the other.

    “Should I instead take them down to the nearest pond and dump them in so they can be ‘natural’? ”

    No. In my opinion, they should never have been in tanks to start with. If you want to see fish and frogs, you can go to their environment and look at them. You don’t need to keep them in an artificial environment for no purpose other than they look pretty.

  130. “What you have to remember is that the US has over 7 million cats.”

    Okay, now subtract the number of inside-only cats that don’t kill anything. Now subtract the feral cats who are outside the comparison of the impact of house v. inside/outside pet cats.

    Now consider, according to a study published by my alma mater today, the fact that only 30% of roaming non-feral cats actually kill anything at all (ability to hunt is a genetic and inability has not been selected out of the domestic cat population as it would be in a true wild population). And of those 30%, only 12% kill birds.

    I don’t deny an impact on birds from free roaming cats, but if we are going to be basing our analysis on “hard data,” lets use appropriate hard data and not numbers inflated to prove our point.

  131. No offended to anyone involved with animal rescue, but some of the people I have had experience with at rescue organizations are just plain Nuts. I went with my mom to pick out a new rescue dog (she had previously rescued an animal from the same rescue a few year prior not problem). Some of the requirements were reasonable based on the individual dog, like; not good around children or needs to be an only pet or doesn’t get along with cats, etc. Others were not like you had to have an X foot fence for large dogs & can’t be left outside at night for small dogs, they also played the Coyote card. Although there are areas more near or in the hills where Coyotes are a problem that is not the case where my mom lives. We left & went to the city shelter. My mom left feeling like these people just wanted to keep all the animals like hoarders. That said, I have had indoor cats for the reason is the article but it was my choice. We do have lots of coyotes (I can hear the packs of them at night & I see them too) & Owls a friend watched an Owl swoop down & pick up a kitten from the patio of a condo. I know they live longer, are healthier & less likely to be hit by a car, but I also had Persians & I was told my many people who had experience with that particular breed that they were not suited to survive in the outdoors.

  132. The problem with your arguments, Parallel, is you confuse natural with better quality of life. I’m not going to spend time arguing with you over “nature” and “interference with nature.” That isn’t the point. I don’t allow my cat to be indoor/outdoor because I think that it is completely natural. It is clearly not as he is a domesticated animal and should not even exist in nature. I allow him to be indoor/outdoor because it provides him a better quality of life.

    Now, some of your comments about cats may be very valid reasons to cease breeding domestic cats and allow the species to die out. Absent a movement to do that, nothing you have said has remotely proven that cats have a better QUALITY OF LIFE being solely inside instead of inside/outside. And if we are going to continue to keep domesticated cats as pets, then it is our moral duty to give them the best quality of life we can. And quality is not always equal to greater quantity, although the majority of PET indoor/outdoor cats live to full life expectancy.

    Also, we are only discussing PET CATS. A lot of people, including you, are throwing in statistics and problems that include feral cats. They are outside the discussion. Nobody made a choice to allow them to roam; they were born into that life. Problems common in feral cats are not present in large numbers in pet cats. There is no comparison.

    And I rarely agree with LRH when it comes to his comments about animals, but I think I’m going to have to go with him on the $25,000 for a cat.

  133. Can’t we all just agree that SOME pet cats can go outside? Like just the cool cats…and the rest can live inside, happily pampered?

    That way we don’t ruin an entire species of animal by keeping them all in confinement?

  134. Not necessarily. We’ve already ruined cats. We domesticated them. 🙂

  135. This is one post where I will not even read the comments. Nothing could possibly change my mind on the subject. As a cat lover who has had cats since childhood, cats absolutely, positively do NOT belong outside. Worst comparison ever!

  136. @Beth. I *fully* get what FRK is all about. I just don’t think there’s a good comparison to be made b/t cats and kids.

  137. We have kitties and love them, and it’s true they live longer inside and don’t spread diseases if they’re indoors, to either others or to children. But an even more compelling is the swath of destruction cats outdoors leave behind them. They kill hundreds of millions of birds a year, among other animals, at a time when wild animal populations are plunging due to loss of habitat and climate change.

    Cats aren’t kids and I think is is a somewhat specious analogy to draw, anyway.

  138. Is it okay to let my unnatural cat outside it if it only kills unnatural Starlings and unnatural English Sparrows?

  139. Hopefully my comments this morning are a postiive contribution to this & don’t take a non-appropriate tone. (The comments I did last night along the lines of “that $25,000 ball of fur became your coyote’s dinner” may haev been a bit much.)

    As usual Donna brings a LOT of rational intelligence and, dare I say it, LOGIC, to this thread. I could not agree with her more–for the most part, a cat’s QUALITY of life is enhanced (and greatly so) by allowing it to enjoy the outdoors. A cat loves to climb trees, chase moths, take naps under the sun, and dance its little heart out prancing around in the grass. Unless you have one really special & spectacular house, your indoors isn’t going to mimic that.

    Even so, I’m not condemning those who keep their cat indoors in terms of that “you’re a horrible cat owner for confining it indoors,” the way some people do me & others who allow the cats to be outdoors. I did refer to its “indoor incarceration” or whatever, but I’m not personally criticizing the person for the choices they made. Thus, I may not agree with your choice, but I’m not going to scream hysterically about what a horrible and irresponsible person you are.

    Moreover, I do think Lenore has made a good comparision also in this–the level of expectations has changed, with cats much as with kids, in that no longer are natural consequences or acts of God an okay response to something that befalls either. Obviously the standards are different & should be, you have a FAR higher obligation to protect your children than you do any pet, but the trend towards “that’s not good enough” is similar between both pet & children.

    In my observation, not so long ago, had you left your cat outdoors & a coyote ate it (and I’m sorry, I do not believe that we have more coyotes now than 20-odd years ago, yet people talk as if coyotes just magically sprung up or exploded in numbers that way, I’m calling “bull” on that), then most rational people wrote it off as an act of God or nature and that was it. There wasn’t this sense of “you should’ve known that coyotes were roaming the place & kept your cat indoors 24/7.” But now there is the expectation that you ARE supposed to keep your cat under 24/7 lock & key and anything that happens to it at all, no matter how normal of an act it was, is completely and all your fault.

    Doesn’t that sound familiar to what the “parenting Pharisees” (what I call the judgmental types) say about kids and parents nowadays? If a kid skins their knee from falling off the bicycle–why didn’t you have knee-pads? Why did you let them ride on the road to begin with? I had someone argue to me that if someone ran over our children while they were playing on our PRIVATE DIRT PATH, it was my fault for letting the kids play there, as opposed to–say, I don’t know–someone RUNNING OVER THEM, on our private property. So I’m now not supposed to let our kids play on our private dirt path because someone may run over them? Gee whiz, where IS it okay to let kids play on a dirt path–on Mars, maybe?

    I see a LOT of parallels there.

    I have more to say, but I’m going to make it another post so this one isn’t quite so awkwardly long.


  140. @Parallel, I don’t recall seeing you post here before. Do you just show up on threads and conversations that involve cats?

  141. Frankly, what is with all of the “songbird” advocation going on in here? We now are supposed to keep cats indoors because of songbird concerns? Gee whiz, what are we going to come up with next? Cats and dogs carry a lot of fleas, which are viewed as a pest–so maybe we should ban cats & dogs altogether because of the fleas they help sustain the existence of? How about mice–if cats kills mice, then are we irresponsible stewards of the planet for bringing cats into our homes knowing the precious pretty little rodents are going to suffer because of it? (And hey, you can buy a mouse as a pet, in the same cities that sell you mouse traps, including the glue ones.)

    I’m tired of that sort of thinking. To be blunt–if the songbirds can’t adapt to the existence of cats which people want to own and choose to own, SCREW THEM.

    I understand that, while humans are more important than animals, we have a moral responsibility to be “humane.” That said, if coyotes REALLY are THAT big of a problem (again, I seriously doubt what I’m hearing about the world suddenly becoming over-run with coyotes like it’s some sort of Locusts or ladybugs outbreak), and we are going to decide that our cats are the priority in terms of being an animal we MUST protect at ALL costs–then why aren’t we eliminating the coyote threat altogether? Why not put up a fence to keep coyotes off of your property, and if they somehow manage to sneak in anyway and you live out in the country, why not just grab your rifle and shoot the stinking things?

    And—getting back to what’s “good enough”–if you have put up a fence in an attempt to keep coyotes out and to keep your cat from going into the “wild at large,” and yet your cat STILL falls victim to one either by the cat scaling your fence or the enemy finding its way in–I say the standard for quality of care has been met by the cat’s owner. If the cat would stop trying to go beyond the fence, as if a 1 acre yard or whatever isn’t enough, then it wouldn’t have met its face–it’s the CAT’S damn fault in that case if you ask me. I would say too it was “nature being nature,” and I would have no problem calling that an act of God or nature.

    And I do think that, 20-odd years ago, MOST people (not all, but most), at least the ones I’ve met in my walks of life, considered that to be a reasonable standard that the owner met. But now, NOTHING is good enough.

    Again, I see parallels to children. To wit: when I was little, my mother kept a 22 rifle and a 12 gauge shotgun in her bedroom closet, UNLOCKED, with the guns at GROUND level, and the guns LOADED. How was I kept safe? She simply scolded me very strongly that I was to not step foot in her bedroom and touch ANYTHING, the guns especially, without her or an adult in there. PERIOD. She didn’t bother locking a thing, she simply let it be known that if I was discovered in there goofing around with HER stuff, my ass was going to be put in the blender. That was ALL it took.

    Now: (if I have the details right, I’m not 100% positive about ALL of this) I recently heard of a situation where a 12-year old committed suicide with his parents’ handgun. Get this: their bedroom door was locked. There were bars on the windows. The gun was kept in a drawer that was LOCKED. The gun was unloaded. The bullets were kept in a separate drawer, also locked.

    Turns out, the 12 year old successfully defeated ALL of that, and managed to commit suicide with the gun anyway.

    Guess what–there were TONS of people that STILL called the parents out as negligent. Good grief, short of not owning a gun at all, what else could they have done? In my recollection of things (which may not be 100% accurate), if I had snuck into my parent’s bedroom and fiddled with their guns, the dominant reaction would’ve been people riding my case about not doing as my parents told me and leaving their stuff alone. What my parents did would’ve been regarded as good enough, it was now my part to do as you’re told.

    It is at this point where the rebuttal will be “but a cat isn’t a person, they aren’t capable of understanding you that way.” That’s true. I therefore am going to suggest something wild, but perhaps perfectly sensible: if a cat’s quality of life is enriched by being outdoors, and we’re obligated to provide them with such a quality of life vs confining them to the indoors their entire lives, but you can’t furnish that because of coyotes that you can’t kill because you live in the city or won’t kill because you think that’s wrong or you don’t have the inclination to spend that sort of time maintaining your property that way–then I’m not so sure that cat ownership in such a scenario isn’t inappropriate.

    Face it–cats aren’t China dolls, but some of you seem to think that’s the sort of care you’re supposed to provide them with. Cats are living & breathing animals that ENJOY the outdoors & will PROPERLY nag the snot out of you often-times to go outdoors for exactly that reason. They don’t belong on the shelf looking pretty along with your ceramic dolls.

    I say–we realize cats are living things, and let them outdoors, and if they get killed, that was nature being nature, not due to laziness on the part of the pet owner. If you want to kill every coyote that trespasses onto your yard to protect your cat, have at it, I say (if the local laws allow it, depending on if you live in the city vs the boonies). If you put up a fence to keep your cat in and the wild animals out, I say you’ve done your part, and if something happens anyway, it was meant to be and NOT a reflection on your poor pet-owning habits. If you are inclined to keep your cat indoors all of its life like a China Doll, have at it–but I’m going to say you’re no better than the one who lets a cat enjoy the outdoor and takes it chances on life–and in fact, I’d vote for someone doing it the latter way vs the former way.

    Buffy Given that the person whom you speak of spent $25,000 on a cat, I think your speculation is probably correct.


  142. “I have more to say, but I’m going to make it another post so this one isn’t quite so awkwardly long.”

    Most of the comments have been awkwardly long. At this point, with all that has been said, we should all consider that the other person really does understand us, but just disagrees.

  143. LRH, I don’t usually bother saying this to you, but it’s not because I don’t think it. It’s just because I think you’re too much of a pain to listen to anything anybody ever says to you, ever. Still, I’m in kinda a pissy mood, so I’m just going to say what I’m thinking for a change.

    Stop being such a jerk! For a minute, even!

    Nobody can dare tell you how to take care of your kid or your pet, I get that (sometimes I wonder if you’d even let the other parent tell you) but you can tell all of us the right way to spend our money, how to prioritize our pets, and what to value in society? Guess what? That’s definitely none of your business. Would I spend 25k on a cat? Well, I suppose if I had that money to spend then it’s not your job to tell me how to spend it. I could blow that money on lollipops or stamp collecting or books (let’s face it, that’s how I would spend the money, on books) and all the same, I wouldn’t care about your opinion! Nobody does! Not that much. If whats-his-face up there spent all his income on his cat last year, or if he’s simply much wealthier than either of us, he probably doesn’t care what you think on the subject either. Insulting him because he spends his money differently from you? Aside from being childish and pathetic, we all know for certain that if somebody came up to you and criticized even the tiniest aspect of how you live your life, you’d practically have an aneurysm. Your own mother couldn’t tell you you look better with your hair parted on the left, but you think it’s okay to tell a total stranger that the way they spend their money is just wrong wrong wrong? Why do you even care?

    As far as “It’s not my fault stupid songbirds are too stupid to adapt because they’re stupid”, that’s just charming. If you were truly prioritizing humans over animals that’d be one thing (although honestly, we don’t know which animals and plants are crucial for human existence on this planet) but you’re prioritizing your housecat. Seriously?

    You might have a valid argument somewhere in the middle of your several long, long, long rants about how stupid other people are, but I doubt I’m the only one who just wonders if you’ll ever shut up. And not just – everywhere you post. My comments are occasionally at least *short*.

  144. It is safer FOR THE CAT to be indoors. It would be safer for children to not go outside (ride bikes, play little league, go swimming…). That is where the comparison between the rules of the cat adoption agency and the helicopter parent end.

    With kids, assessing (real) risk and allowing them to take risks to experience and enjoy life AND so they can gain skills needed to function on their own is imperative. Clearly some people feel the risk to the cat is outweighed by the quality of experiencing life outdoors, while others do not. Parents also asses risk. Some will decide ANY risk is too great. Others, more free range, also asses risk, but giving the child experience wins out.

    The arguments against letting cats outside for the sake of the neighborhood and the birds may be good ones, but not all neighborhoods are the same. Living on a mouse infested farm miles from other people is different than living between two close by houses with neighbors who have yards that look like a cross between the botanical gardens and a bird sanctuary…and all the possibilities in between. The arguments for keeping cats inside for reasons other than the cats safety were not meant to be part of the comparison.

    I guess the only other comparison I would make is between the kitty lovers who are implying they love their cats more (and indoor/outdoor cat owners are “lazy ” for not using leashes or providing entertainment) because they keep their cats inside to protect them and the helicopter parents comments toward free range parents.

  145. […] — It’s Lenore Skenazy from Free-Range Kids again, where we are sick of a world distrusting all men as potential perverts. On my blog […]

  146. Well Uly I hope this doesn’t turn into a “spat,” when I think you & I probably agree on the free-range stuff (and this is what this is supposed to be about, I think?), but anyway, here we go, and yes, I am going to TRY and keep this short. (I will admit I tend to rattle on at pretty long length sometimes.)

    I absolutely understand that a person can spend $25,000 on a cat–heck, they could spend $1 trillion on a cat–and that’s their choice, it’s their money to spend how they please. HOWEVER–just as you can see someone driving a hot pink minivan and think or say outloud “gaw lee, that’s one ugly looking thing,” you can think “man, $25,000 for a CAT?” Don’t tell me that if you heard of someone blowing $1.5 million on gambling debts the only thought in your head would be “well it’s their money, they get to do as they please” although that IS TRUE. In someway you would be saying to yourself “gee, who blows $1.5 million in a CASINO, that’s a LOT,” even if you weren’t trying to be nasty or condiscending about it.

    I’m sorry, but even though I realize we all have different priorities & so forth, I can’t imagine spending $25,000 on a cat even if I was Bill Gates or Henry Buffett. I’m not meaning to pick on that person PERSONALLY so much, and yes, they don’t have to justify to me what their spending decisions are–I’m just saying that anyone who would spend that much money on a cat, would you expect any other response except one that advocates keeping your cat indoors 24/7 and that if the cat escapes “it’s not a reflection of the feline’s intelligence” (implying stupid and/or neglectful owners). Imply something like that, you open the door for the $25,000 observation if you ask me.

    Where it regards songbirds, I would say simply this: we either have to decide that (a) songbirds being killed by cats is sad for the bird but just nature-being-nature, let it be (my inclination) or (b) one should be keeping their cat indoors at all times over that issue, which would compromise the cat’s lifestyle significantly or (c) find a way for them all to co-exist. My argument is simply I don’t think (b) is very kind to the cat you’ve chosen to bring into your home (but again, raise your pet as you see fit, that’s just how I see it myself) and I don’t see how (c) could be done in any practical sense, so therefore let (a) be the way it is.

    Taradilion I agree 100%.

    I’m done. Short enough?


  147. Donna-

    The natural argument is in reply only to one specific poster’s argument that cats killing birds and coyotes killing cats are both natural and shouldn’t be interfered with because of natural selection. I don’t think that most people allow their cat outside because they think cats must be completely ‘natural’ or that ‘nature’ shouldn’t be interfered with.

    The point with dogs is that we find safe, restricted ways to allow them to express their instincts. If you can fence off an area for a dog, you can fence it off for a cat. We restrict dogs for their safety, and anyone who failed to restrict their dog is viewed as a poor pet owner.

    Cats are the ONLY pets that are culturally believed to have a need to free roam unsupervised in the US or the UK.

    As for ferals…colonies do have adult males in them, those being the males that have fought for and won breeding rights. Young and adult males do not lead solitary lives because their social needs are different. Almost all pack and colony species have a period known as dispersal where related young males are driven out. This prevents interbreeding in the family line and helps protect genetic diversity. These males will seek to win colonies of their own…those who cannot will continue to try, which is why male ferals have such a high rate of death and injury from fighting. Male wolves also go through dispersal and are driven from the family pack by their father. Yet we would never use dispersal as an indication that male wolves do not desire a pack or social interaction.

    The territory needs of both lions and feral cats also vary very widely. A lion territory can range from 20km squared to over 200km squared. The interesting thing is that the richer the territory the smaller it is. Lions (and ferals) don’t roam to roam…they roam to have their needs met. If prey, water, and potential mates are close at hand they stay where they are, then move on when the area is exhausted. This is why so many outdoor cat owners brag that their cats stick close to home and “never cross the street”- if food, water, and social needs are met, the cat has little reason to roam (especially if they are altered). Owned cats have significantly smaller territories than unowned strays and ferals. It’s also why ferals in managed colonies roam less. Some still will, but the point is that roaming in and of itself is not necessarily a behavior on par with scratching or hunting…it is a situational behavioral driven by the need to have other instincts fulfilled, not an instinct in and of itself.

    All of which is pretty much beside the point. Domestication of an animal isn’t just about restricting that animal’s freedom with barriers like fences. Domestication restricts the actual instincts as well, meaning dogs are not wolves and housecats are not ferals. The process of domestication restricts the instincts more or less to the juvenile form…in other words, dogs are wolves that never grow up. Spaying and neutering only increases this effect. For some reason people think that cats are less domesticated than dogs when in fact we’ve been selecting for traits like social interaction for a very long time.

    So you can’t look at a feral or a wolf to tell you what your housecat or dog needs. They aren’t the same animal. They have points in common, but to say restricting a cat is like restricting a lion or even a feral is not correct. Otherwise you have to say that restricting your dog is like restricting a wolf- in the wild a wolf would have a territory up to 13,000 km square, which significantly dwarfs your yard.

    If you believe that cats should be allowed to die out and people should not keep fish, I’m actually fine with that belief…but you should absolutely be extending that to dogs as well and ALL other pets. We can’t give ANY of them a ‘natural’ life…we can only do the best we can to both let them be the animals they are and keep them safe.

    But I’m betting when you look at your dog you see that he is happy. That despite the restrictions and your substitution of humans for his natural pack, you’ve done the best you could to let him be a dog…and like all domesticated animals, he has adapted to his restrictions. I see the same when I look at my cat. He’s an incredibly happy, spunky guy.

    As an aside because it is interesting, hunting is instinctive. That’s why even very young kittens will stalk and pounce on a wiggling string. The skill to hunt well has to be taught, as does the actual killing bite.

    Also, that 7 million cat number is based on the UK, where most cats are allowed outside. The number of owned cats including indoor only in the US is 86.4 million (indoor only is estimated about about 30% of that number.) Feral cats are estimated in the tens of millions, which means the problem of cats killing birds is actually much, much greater here than there by almost an astounding degree. And the question isn’t how many of those cats are killing birds, but how many birds are being killed…which in the US is estimated at hundreds of millions. One study showed that of the 41 cats, over 80% killed birds. The interesting part is that the owner only knew about it in 1 of those cases- the rest thought their cats never hunted birds. That hundred of millions number is a very conservative estimate, btw….it’s based on the number of bird carcasses observed in the various studies and feathers found in scat. Cats only bring a fourth of their prey home and only eat a small number of the prey they catch.

  148. Buffy- Nope, I’ve posted before. It was in the past though…I was surprised my information was still stored. The difference now is that I finally got around to adding this blog to my reader, which means I’m more likely to read it and respond.

    Not that any of it matters, since I don’t recall a blog rule that one must have x number of posts before responding to discussions about cats.

    LRH- That’s okay, I quite literally can’t imagine NOT spending that much on my cat if I had it available or could obtain it in any way. You are right that our priorities are very different. My entire moral code is built around the concept of responsibility and commitment. That’s never been my issue with your posts. It’s also never been my issue that you believe that a cat being eaten (and you are simply wrong about coyote populations- much research has been done that shows the population continues to rise) is not big deal and on par with ‘stuff happens’

    Different people value animals at different levels. Okay, fine. My ONLY issue with your posts from the first has been your illogical argument that ‘nature’ is something that shouldn’t be intervened with and that the death of an altered cat can in anyway be connected to the process of natural selection.

  149. I’d also like to point out that my remark about outwitting the cat was in direct response to your insisting that the only possible way to keep a cat indoors is to turn your house into Fort Knox and supervise the cat 24/7. I have remained polite and civil throughout while you have resorted to name calling like idiot, which reflects far more poorly on you than me. I have stated that I do not feel cat owners who let their cats out are bad pet owners- they are making a choice I don’t agree for any number of reasons, but I do believe they are doing so with their cat’s best interests in mind.

  150. “If you can fence off an area for a dog, you can fence it off for a cat.”

    Difference between acres upon acres – and plenty of time outside of restraint beyond that of coming at the sound of my voice – on which to play and a small cage in my backyard.

    “Cats are the ONLY pets that are culturally believed to have a need to free roam unsupervised in the US or the UK.”

    I can’t speak for the UK but that is not true at all. In many areas of the US, dogs roam free. I’ve lived in rural areas for some of my life. Nobody’s dogs are confined and, as long as they didn’t harm the livestock, nobody cares. If they appear to pose a threat to livestock or people, they will be shot; no questions asked.

    In cities and suburbs it is generally not considered acceptable for dogs to roam free but that is largely a result of animal control laws. Without animal control or leash laws, dogs would still be roaming free.

    Further, there is a difference between dogs and cats. Dogs will bite humans. Cats rarely will. I live in a place where dogs do roam free in packs. For the most part it is perfectly fine, but you get packs of dogs that are vicious here and there with no way to deal with them – law of the country of shooting a vicious dog does not apply, there is no animal control and veterinary care is extremely limited. It makes a small number of areas unsafe to walk in which is not acceptable in places of large population concentration. If the owners of animals were responsible and would accept that a vicious dog cannot exist and would put it down (and there was a way to put them down), it would not be a problem. The root of the problem is the humans refusing to act responsibly towards their neighbors and not the dogs roaming.

    “One study showed that of the 41 cats, over 80% killed birds”

    Which I guess just shows the invalidity of using these studies to prove anything considering UGA just published a study of 60 cats that showed that only 30% of them killed anything at all and, of that number, only 12% killed birds. This was based on video cameras on the cats and not what was brought home. It also showed that house cats spend very little of their day outside (4-6 hours)

    Viewing bird carcasses and scat (unless you know the source of the scat) only tells you that a cat killed the bird. It doesn’t tell you whether a feral cat killed the bird or a pet cat killed the bird. The actions of feral cats are completely irrelevant to this discussion.

    Again, I’m not debating that house cats have an effect on the environment. I’m not going to be drawn into arguments that include “hard data” that isn’t “hard.”

  151. Cats are ANIMALS. They have ALWAYS lived outside. Always. Get them vaccinated & neutered & let them be indoor/outdoor cats.

  152. I used to let my cats go outdoors. One got hit by a car. One got picked up by animal control and I had to go pick him up the shelter and pay a hefty fine for having allowed him to trespass on other people’s property. One went feral and we couldn’t get her to come home for several months. She finally came home when she was on the brink of starvation — I guess she was a lousy hunter, since there are plenty of mice, voles, chipmunks, rabbits, ground squirrels etc. around here. We had to nurse her back to health and re-domesticate her.

    Now we keep all our cats indoors and they are all happy and healthy — no ticks, no fleas, no worms, no parasites, no diseases, no worries about them being hit by cars or picked up by animal control or going feral.

    Kids belong outdoors. Kitties don’t.

  153. “we can only do the best we can to both let them be the animals they are and keep them safe.”

    And our views differ on what the best we can do is. I believe that the best thing we can do is make them as happy as possible. And keeping them 100% safe, but desiring of some freedom, is not the best we can do at all.

    You still want to equate dogs and cats and refuse to accept that we absolutely don’t keep dogs confined to houses 24/7 and understand that that scenario is cruel. In fact, most cities have dog parks now where dogs can run free so even the most restrained dogs get time to roam semi-free. We, however, insist that cats should be confined to houses 24/7 – or maybe in small cages in the backyard so they can enjoy nature, or walk on a leash but never, ever run free.

    My dog is happy because I make an effort to make him happy. I give him as much freedom as I can within the limits of the law. He would not be happy at all if he never got to leave the house. He would not be happy at all if he never left the yard. Now, if you would like to start a movement to build cat parks in cities for cats to run free, or if you would like to start cat training classes so that you could teach cats come when called and stay with their owners on hikes through the woods, more power to you. Otherwise, we’re kinda stuck with what got which is an animal that wants to be outside, climb trees, stalk, etc. and no way to allow that to happen other than to let them roam free. Again, this may be a reason to stop breeding domestic cats (I’m not saying that we should) but it is not a reason to keep them unhappily confined inside a house.

    “I see the same when I look at my cat. He’s an incredibly happy, spunky guy.”

    And that is great. I’m certainly not arguing that cats who are perfectly happy inside should be forced to go outside. Unlike kids, who should be forced outside, being outside doesn’t give cats anything if they don’t want to be there.

    However, in addition to being to tell if my dog and cat is happy, I can also tell when my dog or cat is sad or wants something. I think it is cruel to keep cats who clearly want to be outside inside. Just like I think it is cruel to keep dogs inside 24/7. I’ve yet to meet a cat – including those who were born inside – who didn’t want to go outside at some point, but I certainly have not met every cat in the world so I accept that they may exist. Some want to be out more than others. My feral-born cat will disappear for days. My inside born cat barely steps out of the yard.

  154. “I guess she was a lousy hunter”

    Cats have an instinct to hunt, and of course to eat, but they don’t instinctively attach the two. Unless cats learn at a young age to eat what they catch, then mice and birds are toys, and food comes in a bowl.

  155. Our cats eat the mice then present the remains at our door (we live in the country and they stay healthy and safe outside where they can escape to a barn). It is their gift to us. Really. I have a friend who is an expert on cats (writes books on dogs and cats) and it is something natural to cats – to eat what they catch and present it to their owner. Here is Amy Shojal’s link on Amazon to show you just a few of her books. Granted her pets are very pampered – but eating mice and gift-gifting the remains is a compliment to their owner. Why can’t we let animals be animals? It is nature’s way.

  156. When I said culturally, I’m speak of the overall prevailing attitude of the society. There are of course differences both in rural vs. urban and even in the cultural background of pet owners. For example, culturally speaking in Spain free roaming dogs are much more widely accepted. In some countries culturally dogs are considered unclean and are not considered pets. In the US and the UK, the prevailing culture is that dogs are to be restricted and cats are not…though that is changing. But again, as I pointed out several times in the past free roaming dogs were common in the US at least, including in suburban environments like towns.

    The point in bringing any of that up is that how we treat cats and dogs is often culturally driven. And yes, that culture can differ widely from place to place. In the country you have the rule of three Ss…shoot, shovel, and shut up (also known as shoot, shovel, and smile.)

    I’ve also noted previously that cats and dogs are not the same. I agree that dogs, especially free roaming dogs in packs, have a higher potential of harm.

    So basically I agree with you…cats and dogs are different in that they are capable of different degrees of harm. It would be hard to imagine a cat dragging someone off a bike and killing them. I also agree that SOME dogs (probably not nearly enough) have access to wider world than cats.

    But the point of allowing a cat outside is to allow them to express their natural instincts of stalking/eating grass/scratching/etc, yes?

    All of these behaviors can be expressed either inside or outside while supervised. Remember, a cat’s territory shrinks dramatically when their needs are meet. The cat doesn’t care HOW the needs are met or WHERE…just that they got to dig their claws in and have a good streeeetch or got to chase a mouse (real or fake.)

    You’re also assuming that a cat enclosure must be small. They sell cat-safe fencing that bends in at the top (it’s also pretty easy to make). You can fence off any size area you want and training them to come when you call is as simple as feeding them. Indeed, don’t most outdoor/indoor cat owners call their cats in at night? Many people have quite large enclosures that include trees and everything else available in the wild of the suburban backyard. If JJ weren’t so terribly clumsy I would fence off our acre yard for him (he’d break his neck in less than twelve hours, I guarantee it.)

    The reason you take your dog to the dog park is that you can’t meet that need of socializing with other dogs without it. You take them to run loose in an enclosed area because (depending heavily on the breed) many dogs have a high prey or energy drive that has to be worked off. It’s all about meeting the needs.

    There’s no need JJ has that I can’t meet either in the house or on his leash. So long as he gets to express all of his instinctive behaviors, he’ll remain a happy boy.

    (I would actually agree that it would be cruel to keep a cat indoors that is profoundly unhappy there and such cats DO exist. If the cat can’t thrive indoors, the best thing for the cat is to open the door. But most cats who are unhappy indoors aren’t unhappy because they are inside…they are unhappy because they have needs that aren’t being met.)

    About the studies- neither disproves the other. In any random population of cats, you’ll get some heavy hunters and some that don’t hunt at all. The results will also heavily be skewed by the location. One environment may have a large number of mourning doves, which tend to build poor, low to the ground nests that make them easy prey. You’ll see a big jump in bird predation if that’s the case. Another location may have fewer birds overall for whatever reason. The other studies I was referring to were counting the number of carcasses brought home by owned cats or feathers found in the scat of owned cats, not ferals. Point being, you’re right that the data isn’t hard…all we really know is that the numbers we have err far more on the side of the conservative and that cats kill a whole mess of birds.

    I respect your right to let your cat out…the only thing I’m disagreeing with is that doing so is the only way to meet the cat’s need to express instinctive behavior.

  157. I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments, but I have a real problem with outside cats in a suburban/urban environment, and it has NOTHING to do with the safety or well-being of the cat.

    I especially love the “Yay! No litter box!” comment. Cleaning out the litter box is a sucky chore, so I can understand not wanting to do it. But do you know where your cats are pooping? Next to my front door! Right where the smell wafts in my windows, and where I can no longer let my daughter play without doing a poop check. Even better is seeing the neighbor’s cat poop worms into my vegetable garden while I’m eating my breakfast. So go ahead, let your cat poop outside. Shift the responsibility and see how well your neighbors like your happy cat. Or, oh, I don’t know, take responsibility for ALL the things that go along with pet ownership, including poop duty.

    One thing to realize is that most leash laws apply to ALL pets, not just dogs. Not many people would be OK with a dog roaming all over the neighborhood, but most people just don’t seem to care about cats, and I don’t get it.

  158. Apparently a lot of people aren’t getting the point of what the original poster was really getting at. To quote:

    Whether you believe the same way as this volunteer regarding cats and kittens isn’t my point. But I was shocked at how closely animal rescue folks mimic helicopter parents or possibly vice versa. Have we reduced our children to the state of 4-month-old bottle-fed baby kittens? We have to keep them inside because they’ve never been outside and they would instantly become prey to wild predators? Training them isn’t even considered?

    Notice: whether or not it’s a proper thing to do SOCIALLY to let a cat roam was NOT the point of what the original poster was getting at. Worry over songbirds (snicker), neighbors, etc was NOT the point–not saying those issues are irrelevant, but such was not the point of this post. The point was how similar to the 2 different worlds (concern over cat safety, concern over child safety) sound in terms of them saying many of the same things, especially in terms of the whole “things are different nowadays” argument.

    This wasn’t a thread meant to inspire all the more extreme genre of cat-loving zealots out of the woodwork acting all annoying. Gee freaking whiz.


  159. I find myself (surprisingly) in some agreement with LRH (“The point was how similar to the 2 different worlds (concern over cat safety, concern over child safety) sound in terms of them saying many of the same things, especially in terms of the whole “things are different nowadays” argument.”).

    Circumstances differ. We’re in the country and I don’t much see our cats much wandering off our property. They’re all indoor/outdoor cats (outdoor all day, barn at night), due to mountain lion and coyote population. Hawks not so much of a problem despite their large population, as our collection of adoptees are pretty good sized (Maine Coon Cat ancestry).

    They do hunt, but the preferred prey is voles, moles, and rattlesnakes, not birds. You can influence that by how you feed birds….low feeders and food on the ground are invitations to predation. Ours don’t demonstrate the “cat crazies” that are well known in indoor cats. I don’t think ours would be good in the city, but that’s the point; one size rules don’t fit all circumstances.

    And I find it interesting that in my area, the shelters that insist on keeping adopted cats indoors run to a high kill rate, while the more enlightened shelters, with high adoption rates, and very low kill rates, recognize that some cats can’t adapt at all to an indoor life.

    And, if I were given a choice between a low-risk, confined life, and a higher-risk life with freedom, I know which one I would pick.

  160. I loved that post

    I paid particular interest in

    * We all used to have outdoor cats when we were kids. Everyone did. But things are different now.

    * The cats’ biggest problem is PREDATORS. We think it’s cars, but it’s not. It’s predators. She then began to speak about COYOTES…….

    Has the predator population increased since we were kids?

    I see the same as the myth that crime has increase since we were kids. Forget about statistics or actual facts. There are now 100 channels on TV covering all sorts of violence. Therefore it must be true that it’s too dangerous to let kids experience life.

  161. I think the letter writer makes a valid point – the same rhetorical devices that are being used to convince people to keep their cats inside are also being used to convince people that the world is a frightening place for their children. However, I don’t think that comparing kids and cats is a valid comparison. Kids can reason – cats cannot. Kids can be taught to think through the consequences of their decisions. Cats can be conditioned to behave in a certain way, but they are not logically thinking through their decisions. I can teach my kid to think about why he needs to look both ways and be watchful for cars, (although let’s be honest: if my kid were hit by a car, I know I would spend a good deal of time second-guessing every decision I made that day). But I can’t teach my cat why he should look both ways. And I can’t condition my cat not to jump and run when something startles him. Outdoor cats are not for me, and I don’t think that it at all jeopardizes my credentials as a free range parent.

    The line about the litter box really bothered me, too. The fact that I routinely have to remove cat excrement from my backyard (where my son frequently plays) irritates me to no end. It’s not my responsibility to pick up after your cat. If you don’t want the responsibility, don’t get the animal.

    And LRH, just a quick question (if you, or anyone, is still even reading these comments): in an earlier post, you said that if a cat is an outdoor cat, then whenever they die, whether we deem it untimely or not, is simply their time to go, and we’re hindering that by keeping them indoors. But following the logic that whenever a creature dies it was “their time”, then whenever my mostly indoor cat dies, won’t it be at the proper predetermined time? If he were to have died before that, (say, as an outdoor cat), then by the logic of predetermination, he would have died at that same time, whether indoors or outdoors. So just as letting a cat roam freely does them no disservice in terms of the length of their life, my decision to keep my cat inside should do him no disservice, insofar as his life-span goes.

  162. I think the way people now try to shield their pets from every possible danger by locking them inside or keeping them on a leash at all times is caused by the same cultural shift that causes society to try shield kids from the slightest risk.

    I let my cats out during the day. They can learn street smarts too and you can prevent them from killing birds by putting a bell on them.

    And one of the few comments I read compared it to dog leash laws. All the repressive leash laws seem do is to take away the need to train your dog. If you don’t have enough control over your dog to prevent them from bolting across the road when you don’t have them tethered to you, you might want to review your training methods. Hm, that reminds me of something…

  163. Lin Exactly. I see parallels all over the place, especially the “we used to do that, but things are different now.” Really. You mean coyotes & other wild animals didn’t exist 20 years ago, they’ve just not started appearing? That sounds a lot like people talking about mosquitoes & ticks as a reason why kids can’t play outside. Really. Mosquitoes just magically came into existence 5 years ago? We didn’t have malaria, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever & Lyme disease 20-odd years ago, they just suddenly sprung up right now?


  164. “Mosquitoes just magically came into existence 5 years ago? We didn’t have malaria, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever & Lyme disease 20-odd years ago, they just suddenly sprung up right now?”

    No, it’s just that people didn’t care if their kids were sickened by or died from insect-borne diseases, until the Perfect Generation came along.

    Or at least, that’s the impression I sometimes get.

  165. Ok, I really can’t post any links at all here, so here goes, with google keywords instead of links…

    Cats are very different from a child and should not be compared. You can’t teach a cat not to kill birds and animals. Cats kill indiscriminately even if they have ready access to food and are a huge issue with wildlife in Australia and other places.

    You can see the huge difference that cats and foxes have made if you go to an area isolated from the mainland where there is less issue with these animals. Kangaroo Island in South Australia has no foxes and only a small number of cats. While it is a requirement that pet cats are kept inside or in runs unfortunately some people have flaunted this and there are now feral cats on Kangaroo Island which have become impossible to eradicate. However because they are still in small numbers due to trapping and culling it is still possible to see the huge variety and number of native species compared to the mainland because there are not as many introduced predators. I have never seen so many birds and lizards in my life!! A huge diversity and huge number compared to the mainland.

    I am extremely in support of cats being inside pets only. If you cannot or will not provide appropriate care and consideration to your pets you should not have the animal.

    All cats should be desexed. All cats should be confined within the owners property in the house or in runs. Cats allowed outside of the runs should be on a lead.

    Here is some more information about cat control on Kangaroo Island (can’t post link so google “kangaroo island cat control committee” and view their news & media page)

    Another amazing article highlighting the issue of feral cats and pet cats who are allowed to roam (especially at night) is this one which shows that in the previous 24 hours before this feral cat was trapped and euthanised THIRTY FOUR animals died to fill its belly. (can’t post link so google “arid recovery news they eat what!” and it should hopefully come up first)

    In addition to the scientific fact of the damage cats do above, I’ve also had neighbouring cats attack my chickens on my property. I do not know whether that animal was feral or a pet, however it was on my property at dusk and attacked my pets. My animals do not come into your yards and attack your animals. Lesson learned for me and my hens have a lot less freedom and are closely supervised now. Shortly after the incident with my hens it killed the neighbours rescued wild duck which only had 1 wing due to an earlier incident with neighbourhood cats.

  166. I do not live on Kangaroo Island, but in suburbia. My cat is desexed – as is required by law. My cat does not attack animals in the neighbour’s yard and uses the cat litter tray. Our local laws do not require cats to be confined. Even if I would be so careless as to let my cat become feral, she cannot reproduce so is not going to start a feral cat population in a fragile ecosystem. Most of the critters she would be able to catch around our house – if she were at all motivated – would be feral, mice and rats mostly.

    Linking well cared for pet cats in suburbia to feral cat populations in the bush is as far fetched as linking a child-killing psychopath in the US to letting your child walk to school in Toowoomba.

    Restrictive cat laws in suburbia don’t help the environment. And it’s quite ludicrous if you consider the impact of the humans on the environment in those areas, which is quite a bit bigger.

    In contrast, in the country cats are rarely desexed or vaccinated. But it is much harder to enforce the rules there than it is in the suburbs and no one seems to bother. And I know, because I foster kittens from the country. And there is a never ending stream of them.

  167. Sigh, Lin, the point was that in isolated areas where there aren’t cats, you can see that the populations of native species aren’t affected the way native species in areas where there ARE cats are affected. It’s a control to compare to, basically.

    It is very doubtful that the rats and mice around your house are feral – I think you need to look up that word. Mice and rats very rarely survive long enough to become feral. What you’re talking about is WILD mice and rats.

    In the country it isn’t as big of a deal, because generally your land is so large that your cat won’t venture onto your neighbor’s land. In suburbia it is totally different and your cat is a rare exception.

  168. Wow, guess I’m late to this party. But I just wanted to comment and say that I believe this shift reflects not a change in conditions, but a change in the place of the cat in society. I think that in earlier decades, cats were considered somewhere between a farm animal and a pet. They had a job to do (mousing) and if bad things happened to the cat in the course of doing his or her job, oh well, there were always more where that cat came from. Even as society became less agrarian and more urbanized, the cat still held a lower place than a pet dog. It was generally accepted that cats would live short lives, ultimately dying in childbirth, getting hit by a car, getting into rat poison, losing a fight with a coyote or meeting some other kind of death by misadventure.

    Somewhere in the last 20-30 years, that became unacceptable to people. The rise of the indoor cat began. Their independence, coupled with lingering superstitions surrounding cats, had previously made them less valued as a pet than a dog. Maybe changes in society led to their independence becoming a good thing. As people started spreading out more, working longer hours, delaying marriage, and having both parents working, they often didn’t have the time for a dog. Cats, on the other hand, adapt well to being left alone like that. They don’t need to be walked or bathed, just given fresh food and water and having their litterbox changed. You don’t even need to train them to use the catbox: just set it up, kind of point it out to them, and it’s their instinct to use it. If there’s another activity that gives more rewards for less efforts than cat ownership, I can’t think of it.

    I do think it’s interesting that a lot of the same arguments are used to keep cats indoors as to keep children on a short leash. But I’m not 100% convinced the same factors led to both phenomena.

  169. I really like Library Diva’s musings on the cultural shift involved here. I have my own opinions on whether cats should be indoor-only or roam freely, but what I find really interesting is the similarity with the Free-Range Kids issue in the way different cultures have vastly different perspectives on it.

    In the Netherlands, people routinely park baby strollers outside stores while they shop or have lunch inside. In many places in the US, the police would be called within minutes. I felt I was pushing the envelope the other day when I parked my sleeping baby’s stroller at the front of the local bookstore (inside) while I browsed in the back of the shop.

    In the UK, moggies roam freely through their neighborhoods and come and go through the cat flap as they please, and nobody thinks twice about it. In the US, even the notion of a cat flap seems vaguely suspicious and unsafe, and someone who lets their cat roam outside is frequently viewed as irresponsible and antisocial.

    Whether one agrees or disagrees on the specifics, it’s hard to deny that the same kind of absolutist, worst-case-first thinking is at play in US culture with both of these issues.

  170. Didn’t read all of the comments, but did no one mention belling the cats? Doesn’t that help at least some with the bird predation?

    I have to say, I feel really strongly about the indoor/outdoor cat issue. Cats are simply not evolutionarily adapted to living indoors all of the time, and I think it’s incredibly cruel and selfish to subject them to such a dull life. I have rarely known an indoor cat that didn’t try repeatedly to escape the house, especially once he had succeeded once and found out what he was being denied.

    If songbirds really are the issue of greatest concern, and belling does not do enough to relieve your conscience, then, by all means, do not own a cat. My suspicion is that the main problem with bird predation is the extremely large population of feral cats anyway, not really the ones that are living in a home, fat and well-fed. Trapping ferals to spay/neuter, and spay/neutering pet cats seems like the most important solution to this problem.

    As for the threat of coyotes, really, this is a selfish issue. We love our cats, and hate to think of them dying, especially that way. Trust me, your cat does not spend any time thinking about this until the moment actually arrives, at which point it is likely over rather quickly. We cannot prevent death, it happens to everything, we can only try to minimize suffering. A lifetime of suffering the denial of expressing his natural instincts, I think, is a lot harder on your cat than a short period of suffering at the end of his life.

  171. I don’t live on Kangaroo Island either. I live in suburbia. If I ever own a cat it will be confined. My family all keep their cats confined – my mum has a large outdoor run and my grandma takes hers on walks outside. They are not effected in any way and are very happy cats. My friend has an inside cat and also feeds a stray despite my urging her to take it to the RSPCA for rehoming. Her inside cat is in a lot better condition and a lot happier than the one outside though they both have the same access to regular food.

    It has been shown that bells have little to no effect. I know through my own observations about 20 years ago prior to my mum confining their cats to the runs they wore bells and their cats could run without sounding them, climb trees without sounding them… they regularly brought home wildlife. It doesn’t prevent cats from killing and it doesn’t change that they will kill even if they’re not hungry – they will hunt for fun.

    They are not discriminate and it is naive to think that your cat is only a threat to the local mouse population, or that it stays in your yard. If you must let it outside without a run a 10 foot high fully enclosed wire fence around your property would suit me just fine. There was an interesting video I saw some years ago…I would have to hunt for it, but someone attached a camera to their cat collar once and were shocked just how far their cat roamed during an average day.

    The selfish part is having a cat, and not caring about the native critters well-being or your neighbours … all because you’re worried about the cats evolutionary need to be outdoors???

    Songbirds are not my greatest worry. My greatest worry is the sheer amount of diversity I saw in an area that has a significantly lower cat population than the mainland. It isn’t just song birds, it is all birds, lizards, small mammals, and any number of other critters you don’t even know are living along with you. You’ll notice Kangaroo Island doesn’t just say please desex and vaccinate and you’re all good. They say keep pet cats confined or on a lead because of the killing even a well fed pet will do for the sake of it.

    All other animals that we keep as pets are confined and managed. Cats should be no different – it is the responsible thing to do. Even if cats are native to your area (africa, europe, some asia), bringing in more cats than an area should support shifts the ecological balance and causes many species to be decimated.

    I go completely the other way and say if you cannot desex, vaccinate and keep your cat controlled and confined as you would a dog or other pet… do not own a cat.

    “Expressing natural instinct” means killing. It is as simple as that. Does anyone here keep a parrot as a pet? Do you allow it to go and fly outside under the big blue sky to “express its natural instinct” or do you keep it in a cage and teach it to say human words?

  172. There are quite a few weak arguments in that post. Of course a stray is not going to be as healthy as a pet cat. I doubt it has much to do with diet. Especially if they are being fed processed food, in which case the stray’s diet was probably better before it got fed by humans. It’s a bit like saying letting kids outside is not good because look at how bad those homeless kids look.

    And I bet the reason why people don’t let parrots fly around freely is mainly because they don’t come back. As opposed to my cat who comes running when I call in case there may be food on offer.

    Sure, cats may be a strain on the ecosystem even in the unnatural suburbs. But so are the magpies, peewees, ravens, kangaroos, possums, rats, mice and all sorts of other creatures that get an easy ride living close to humans.

    I don’t think the minor nuisance my cat might potentially cause is a justification for confining her in a small space, which is a tiny fraction of the size of her natural territory. Which we will have to agree to disagree on.

  173. One thing that doesn’t seem to be (often) mentioned in these posts is that a lot of the people who have indoor/outdoor cats were people that took in strays from off the street, desexed and inoculated them, and gave them places to stay. For those of you who worry about coyotes and cars, I’ve given my cat a life he might never have had if he’d been killed in a shelter. For those of you worried about songbirds* and other deleterious effects of cats, I’ve kept him from siring numerous litters of strays and spreading disease. And while your kittens may have had a happy life living indoors, probably because they were born indoors thanks to some owner who is irresponsibly adding to the domestic cat population, mine was already an outdoor cat who learned to live like that. So, honestly… if you want to keep talking about what an “immature” or “irresponsible” cat owner I must be, you can get bent.

    *Another thing not often mentioned is how many other predators humans have driven off, which may have been killing songbirds themselves. So if you’re part of the suburban sprawl, working in an office park with shiny windows that birds slam into, driving your minivans and SUVs and voting for the guy who will get your gas prices down, don’t talk to me about upsetting the natural balance.

  174. The most disturbing thing here, is how y’all are more worried about outdoor cats, than the real issue.

  175. Sorry, but as a longtime cat person, cats are safest indoors. I don’t want to worry about them being hit by a car (happened to my neighbor’s cat), getting fleas, terrorizing the bird populations, getting into fights with other cats, or whatever other dangers present themselves. Most animal welfare groups will not adopt out kittens/cats if you plan to keep them outdoors. My two have enough space to roam indoors — cats are agorophobic by nature. Additionally, my previous two cats were strictly indoor cats; one lived to age 13, and the other lived to be 18. To compare this to human children being overprotected is a tad silly.

  176. There are so many reasons why all kinds of animals (cats, dogs, giraffes, elephants, humans, chimpanzees, etc.) need time outside (and many live exclusively outside):

    – vitamin D – how does your indoor cat (or your tv/video game-obsessed kid) get enough vitamin D?

    – exercise;

    – play time;

    – being social;

    and so much more. No sane person would keep their 2-5-year-old child inside ALL the time (or outside, but at that age, many hours outside in nice weather would be well-loved time), and I don’t understand why people do so with their cats. I have lost cats due to them being outside, but there is much more to life than how long you live, IMHO. Besides, who would even keep their dog inside? Litter boxes are gross, and being inside all the time is sad and not fun. The end.

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