Indoor Kitties

This week in the news there was a story about a European cat that steals from his neighbors. While the story was hilarious, I did not expect a negative response when I posted the following on a news discussion forum:

Um… anyone believe in keeping their kitties inside? Many places have laws that require you to keep your pets on your own property, yet people routinely let their cats and dogs roam freely. The biggest reason not to do that is for your pets’ own safety. Indoor cats have longer and healthier lives. They also don’t steal from the neighbors.

A couple of people responded, telling me to think about it from the cat’s perspective and saying not to keep cats “prisoner.” So I said:

I’m surprised to get a few thumbs down for my comment given the multitude of dangers domestic cats face by being allowed to roam freely. It is because I love cats so much that I don’t let them go outside without immediate supervision. There are also some cool cat pens out there.

I’m going to have to respectfully disagree on this one. It’s irresponsible to let cats roam freely. Outdoor kitties have much shorter life spans, are up against mean people, careless kids, cars, disease, fleas and ticks, dogs, cat fights, wild animals, poisons, and on the list goes. People who let their cats roam free are also the biggest reason that millions of cats and kittens are euthanized in this country every year.

Additionally, they’re a threat to small wildlife, like birds, and neighbors may not appreciate your cat’s presence in their garden, around the birds, around other pets, etc. Road crews and Animal Control certainly don’t enjoy routinely picking dead cats up off the road and trying to find their owners. There’s even psychos who will take cats for dog fighting bait and for science experiments.

This probably isn’t going to convince the people who think that letting cats have an entire residence for their sleeping and playing pleasure is holding them hostage. But there are very valid reasons not to let your cat roam around at will. People should not assume that their cat has a right to be on someone else’s property. In some places there are ordinances and codes that prohibit that.

I love my neighbor cat, for example, and spoil her when she comes over. She likes to hang out and play with me. But it upsets me that my bird bath, positioned where my mostly indoor cats can enjoy it, has become her McDonald’s. My backyard bird and squirrel sanctuary, which is set up to be Discovery Channel for my cats, has become her hunting grounds. The trouble tripled when a neighbor decided to “cat sit” someone else’s cats by letting them roam freely.

In King County alone, thousands of adoptable animals are killed every year because they’re lost, have been abandoned, or have been allowed to breed indiscriminately. Some may be owner surrenders, but the primary reason we have overcrowded animal shelters and euthanize so many of God’s creatures every year is because of irresponsible people.

Some think it cruel to keep a cat indoors; it’s cruel to perpetuate these problems and subject kitties and their offspring to the horrors of disease, attacks, and human cruelty. You wouldn’t let you children wander through everyone else’s yards and be chased by dogs, kicked by angry neighbors, or regularly try to beat traffic across the street– why would you let your cat?

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For a couple of safe ways to allow your kitties to go outdoors in relative safety, check out these cool products:

Purr…fect Fence, http://www.purrfectfence.com/

Kittywalk, http://www.kittywalk.com/

There’s also several products in the Drs. Foster & Smith catalog, although I’m not a fan of the cat strollers because they’re not going to protect a cat from a dog attack, http://www.drsfostersmith.com/cat-supplies/outdoor-cats/ps/c/3261/20830.

And let’s not forget that you can deck your residence out with cat furniture and a multitude of toys that will keep them entertained and happy.

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The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. –Gandhi

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6 thoughts on “Indoor Kitties

  1. Maybe it’s cruel if you’re keeping them in a tiny studio flat, but if you’ve got the space for them to run about then cats are completely happy indoors. If they were unhappy, they would show bored and distressed behaviour, which they don’t.

    My sister cats have been indoors for all of their 5 years. I considered letting them out when I first got them, but I lived in a bad area where a couple of local brats were known for torturing animals they caught. Now that I’ve moved, they aren’t even interested in following me out into the back yard.

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    1. I agree. If they have things to play with, climb on, and room to run, they can be happy. And you made a great point about the dangers of the great outdoors. There are so many anti-animal people, dogs, wild animals, etc. that it’s no wonder indoor kitties live longer.

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  2. I’m with you on this one. The average outdoor cat’s lifespan is less than half of an indoor cat. And Kitten Thunder hardly suffers from being locked inside. We have raccoons, coyotes and fox in the city. Plus other people’s cats and feral cats. And cars. I’d be terribly upset if my boys ran into any of those.

    I can’t imagine just accepting that I’d have to go through losing a pet twice as often.

    Barn cats are a weird exception because they are practically wild animals. But it always makes me sad when someone adopts a kitten to set free in the barn. So often they become coyote food. And they aren’t nearly as loved.

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    1. Well said. Even though I know people who adopt barn kitties, I don’t like it either. I don’t like when domestic kitties are thrown out in a building somewhere and pretty much left to fend for themselves. Cats thrive on love and interaction.

      Having lost a cat to a coyote once makes me feel very strongly about this issue. The cat wasn’t living with me at the time, but I will always regret relocating her to an area where that was a danger because where I lived didn’t allow cats. In retrospect, I should have done far more to keep her. That was a long time ago, but it still makes me sick every time I think about it.

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  3. I don’t have cats now, but we always had cats growing up and they were outdoor cats. My mom refused to let animals in the house. The last time I had cats as a grown-up we lived way out in the country and again, they were outdoor cats. Because we had no neighbors and our driveway was 1/2 mile long with woods on either side, we had no problems with their safety or bothering anyone. But if you live in a neighborhood, I agree, it can be a different situation. We have big dogs and still live in the country, they are indoor/outdoor and allowed to run free when outside–but again, a long way from the road and no iimmediate neighbors. (I think we’ve chosen our properties because of our dogs!!)

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