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Inside/outside - am I cruel?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I had a discussion (a.k.a., argument) with my aunt the other evening about our cats and basically, she told me I was being cruel for not letting Niko outside. She claims that in order for her cats to lead a full life, they need to hunt, stalk, and play in the grass.. experience nature. She's owned cats for many years and all of them have been indoor/outdoor; she basically made me feel as though I was doing him a terrible injustice. Niko is my first and only, and just the thought of letting him fend for himself out in the 'wild' (okay, so I'm in a metropolitan area, it's still wild to him) makes me a little queasy.

I don't /want/ to let him out of the house- I don't want him to catch an illness, get into a fight, get lost, hurt, hit by a car, stolen, etc. Hell, I think if I ever did let him out, I'd be worried sick and waiting at the door until he came back. While part of me agrees that he would have a great time, full of enrichment and experiences, the rest of me refuses to even give it consideration.

I've tried the leash thing, but he wants nothing to do with putting on a harness/collar, so I stopped trying. Is she right, am I denying him a feline rite of passage and being an over-protective momma? Am I depriving him of experiences he should be having to have a fulfilling life?
post #2 of 29
I think cats are better off indoors, unless they go out on harness or in an enclosure. So long as they have plenty of toys, scratch posts/trees etc. they can be perfectly happy (not to mention safe!) indoors.
post #3 of 29
Ah, the debate that goes on and on!

You have to do what is right for you AND your cat. That's what it comes down to. We have indoor only cats, and I have been told off by people for not allowing them outside, but hey, my cats are happy inside and I am not going to come home one night and find they have been hit by a car on our very busy road (as happened to one of our neighbors).

Don't worry about what your aunt says. As long as your cat appears happy and stimulated, he is probably fine. And hey, the Humane Society of the US recommends leaving your cat indoors (see below article). A friend of mine who has always had indoor cats always whips that one out whenever people claim she is harming her cats.

http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_care/ca...out_there.html
post #4 of 29
Lets see - that may have been ok 20-30 yrs ago, but in this day, its more dangerous to let your cat outside to roam with no supervision.

Except for the couple of barn cats (and a lot of them didn't survive the 4 wheels on the road), ALL my cats have been indoors.

They were happy, healthy and didn't miss being outside as they never went there. They also didn't have fleas, worms, FELV, FIP, and other possible diseases from feral cats. they also lived to their teens.

Just tell your aunt that you choose to keep your cats safe and healthy INDOORS and do not wish to talk about it anymore.
post #5 of 29
I don’t agree either. My cats through out my life have never been out doors, nor will they ever unless they are on a leash or in an enclosure AND I am watching.

My cats hunt and play just fine, in fact just this morning my babies woke me up at 4am hunting and stalking! Lol.

My boys are safe, clean, and happy. This is one of those debates where people will always have their own opinions but I prefer to know that my guys are safe.

A friend of mine back home who was a vet told me that the life expectancy for an indoor cat is 12 years, and 5 for an outdoor cat. The reasons are traffic, poisons such as pesticides, old garbage, garage items such as oil and car fluids, poisonous plants. Then there are diseases, FIV, Feline leukemia, infected cuts from getting in fights and getting dirty. Then parasites, fleas, mites. Along with wild animals that can kill them… And the worst, which is unfortunately not uncommon, mean people that will hurt animals for fun.

I know there is another side to this, so if your cats outdoors that’s your choice and I am totally not against it I am just writing why MY cats don’t go out.
post #6 of 29
I can see why you aunt might say that, but I don't think it is right of her to say you are being cruel. That is a very strong word, and I doubt that you are guilty of cruelty!
Mine happens to go out. He also happens to be an ex-feral and we have 14 acres of our own land. Are there dangers? Yes, but he is protected from things like fleas and ticks with medication. As for some of the other dangers which I know are out there, I believe he is savvy enough to be able to cope with them. And I am convinced he would be unhappy as an indoor cat. But never would it occur to me to say that someone who has made a different choice based on their home, lifestyle and cat is being cruel. I think we all love our cats and want what is best for them.
post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by beturtlement View Post
I don't /want/ to let him out of the house- I don't want him to catch an illness, get into a fight, get lost, hurt, hit by a car, stolen, etc.
If you believe these are legitimate concerns in the area where you live, the answer is obvious. Don't let other people make up your mind for you.

Cats do not need to go outside to be happy. It is certainly true that the outdoors offer lots of fun and stimulation for a cat. But is is also true that it offers lots of dangers. I have noticed that cats that have been forced to live exclusively outdoors, with no human aid, often adjust very well to living exclusively indoors. I think they appreciate the safety and comfort of the indoors. Indoor/outdoor cats have the best of both worlds but while they are outdoors they are exposed to some dangers that they may be able to escape by retreating indoors, but there are some dangers they will not be able to escape.

I have just seen too many cats come to horrific ends outdoors. I would never consider for an instant letting mine out.
post #8 of 29
tabitha has always been an indoor/outdoor cat and she would really hate being indoors all the time. having said that, she spends far more time inside since my rb cat janet crossed the bridge last oct. he would bully her and i now know that led to her spending most of her time outside. she would be in overnight but spend the day in the garden. she really only goes outside for the loo now or a sunbathe.

milo and shinobi are indoors only though. milo will have a trot round the garden on his harness occasionally but he isn't bothered about going out. shinobi was found as a stray at 12 weeks and is terrified of strangers so i would never let him out for that reason alone.

i was cutting the grass the other day and milo and shinobi sat at the french doors watching me. i know some people would say that they wanted to be outside. what they actually wanted was to be with me. as soon as i came back in they followed me into the lounge.
post #9 of 29
The choice is yours to make. There will definitely be a lot of opinions, but you must choose what's right for you and Niko. Your aunt can simply respect your decision.

I love my cats too much to risk them being outside and exposed to all the dangers. They are super happy at home.
post #10 of 29
My cats are strictly indoor cats.I live in the city and there are too many dangers.Not to mention,back when we were growing up we had lots of cats and they were always indoor/outdoor and well one was poisoned (that was a hard day,especially since I found him!),a few were constatnly pregnant and having kittens (back then we didn't know better) and well one got all kinds of diseases and was always cut up from fights and dirty.He died at age 6,from a repistory illness and feline AIDS!!! 6 yrs young and dead.

So because of that,I will never let my two outside.Benjamin does try and get out now,but I make sure he stays in and well hopefully when he gets neutered,it will keep him from trying to get out.

It is your descision.Who cares what your aunt thinks? These cats are YOURS,not hers and you care about their safety.I do know of some cats that go outside and are perfectly fine,but really it is your descision and if you decide to keep them in,your not being cruel!
post #11 of 29
I prefer cats to be indoors personally. I do realize that some cats are better off outdoors but only if that is all they have ever known. I keep all of my cats inside except Noira because she destroys things to get outside. Bowie also cries at the door when she has to go to the bathroom and I let her out to the front lawn/bushes and she goes and comes right back in. Both these cats have identification and their rabies tags on them just in case.

So no, if your cat isn't showing interest in going outside, he is better off indoors.
post #12 of 29
My mom has a cat that was found as a stray.She had two kittens and once they were adopted,the cat was spayed.She was outdoors her whole life and she doesn't even care about going out anymore.She is quite content living inside.
post #13 of 29
No, you are not cruel - especially if you're enriching your cat's indoor environment by multiple levels to jump on, window seats, nice organic wheat grass to eat (honestly, I'm spending more on my cats' food budget than mine, lately), toys, and lots of love and attention from you. And, I suspect your vet (and mine, and just about any US vet in current practice) would be backing you up 100%.
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by 709Juggalette View Post
My mom has a cat that was found as a stray.She had two kittens and once they were adopted,the cat was spayed.She was outdoors her whole life and she doesn't even care about going out anymore.She is quite content living inside.
I suspect, but can't prove, that given the choice of an all outdoor life or an all indoor life most cats would choose all indoors. Between 2 friends they have 3 cats that were formerly totally outdoor cats with regular care and feeding by humans. All 3 are now totally indoor cats and none have any interest at all in the outdoors. One is even a feral. She prefers indoor life (yes, my friend has a feral cat living inside his house) despite that indoors she has to deal with 2 resident males that periodically attack her. One of the others that another friend has also has to deal with a resident male (a Ragdoll if you can believe it) that attacks her. She is mostly confined to their master bedroom and yet never attempts to get outdoors when given the opportunity.
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by missymotus View Post
I think cats are better off indoors, unless they go out on harness or in an enclosure. So long as they have plenty of toys, scratch posts/trees etc. they can be perfectly happy (not to mention safe!) indoors.
Absolutely! I will never let Trout outside by herself..no way I would risk her safety. She is a perfectly happy cat
post #16 of 29
If keeping your kids out of the traffic is cruel, then yes, you're cruel.

But I don't think so.

I've picked up a number of dead animals out of the road, but it's never been one of MY cats!
post #17 of 29
No, you're not being cruel in any way.
Frankly if it were me I'd tell my Aunt to mind her own business, it's your cat and you'll do what you want.

I'd never let any of my babies outside.

Gracie and Lizzie (RIP) were the kittens of a stray that one of my friends took in, so they've never know the outside.

Annabelle was a semi-feral that I grabbed out of the middle of a busy street...I have no idea how long she was outside ( I suspect that she was someones pet at one time, but they just tossed her out...but it was obvious that she'd been on her own for sometime )
She runs a mile from an open door.

Elliott showed up as a tiny kitten ( no more than 6 to 8 weeks old ) in June of 2005.
When my Husband and I moved into our new home in May of 2006 I spotted Elliott...at that time known as Kidd...the third day we lived here and I knew I had to have him.
I finally talked my Husband into it in November of that year...Elliott was 18 months old at the time and had never known anything but the outdoors.
We brought him in and put him in our spare room...I was scared to death that he'd freak out or spray or not use the litter box...none of that happened.
He did scream for about 15 minutes and that was it, he NEVER sprayed (He was neutered three days after we brought him in ) and he used the litter box within the first half hour or so.
Elliott just had his third Birthday and if there was ever a cat that was born to be inside it's him.
He's not unhappy in the least..none of our cats are.
To be very honest I think that especially Annabelle and Elliott know that they're safe now.
No more dodgeing cars, no more having to run from other cats ( or other animals) who would try to hurt them and no more chance that someone who simply doesn't like cats would harm them in any way.

They have plenty of toys, scratching posts, window seats and nice warm cozy places to sleep...plus they have each other and my Husband, Kids and I to play with them and love them.

Like someone else said and my Vet told me once, that given a choice most cats would rather be indoors.

Sorry I wrote so much, but I feel very strongly...as a lot of memebers here do..that there's no reason in the world why a cat has to go outside.
post #18 of 29
As one who does allow her cats outside, I need to put my oar in here -- but it's not to agree with your Aunt. She's entitled to decide for her cats, but not for anyone else's. Nor is it appropriate for her to lay a guilt trip on anyone else for their decision. We can only decide for our own situation, as we see it, based on the criteria that are important to us. You love your cat, and you do the best you can for him, and how you accomplish that is your buisness and nobody else's.
post #19 of 29
Hmm someone said there that if cats were given the choice to be totally indoor they'd take it - soooo wrong in my humble opinion! My cat gets very upset if he can't go out - he paces up and down and scratches things, not to mention the howling! My parents have had cats all their lives and they've always gone out too - they wait by the door and when you open it they leg it!
But, having said this, it IS a contextual matter. If you're in the UK, no one but NO ONE will judge you for allowing you kitty out - a concept with people in the US really struggle with. It is the 'done' thing in the UK, in the US, it seems to be considered 'cruel' to allow your cats out, not by keeping them in!
post #20 of 29
I don't let our kitties out for the same reason. I would be worried sick every second they were outside. There are too many cars and dogs that would kill them in a heart beat. In fact, just last week there was a kitty that had been hit by a car and left on the street in front of my house. And that cat was one that I fed on a regular basis because she was so skinny!
post #21 of 29
All sides of this debate should drop the "cruelty" thing and leave it out of the conversation.

Fed? Healthy? In control of minute-to-minute location and activities? In an appropriate environment (large enough, comfortable substrate, with vertical space and things to paw it, be they insects, fabric, toys, or other organisms)? Not being treated cruelly.

End of story. Period.

Starved? Cruel.
Festering wounds? Cruel.
Trapped by a toddler and tail being pulled? Cruel.
In a small wire cage that they can't comfortably sit down in? Cruel.
Perpetually alone in a square room with a bare floor, food and water occasionally automatically delivered? Cruel.

In a home, with toys and humans and blankets, or outside with food and shelter, or indoor/outdoor - not cruel. We can debate which is better (I used to say indoor/outdoor, now I say indoor only), but we shouldn't call any of them cruel. They aren't.
post #22 of 29
if i didnt let my cats outside they would destroy my house
post #23 of 29
Quote:
But, having said this, it IS a contextual matter. If you're in the UK, no one but NO ONE will judge you for allowing you kitty out - a concept with people in the US really struggle with. It is the 'done' thing in the UK, in the US, it seems to be considered 'cruel' to allow your cats out, not by keeping them in!
This is so true. I live in Ireland right now, but my husband is British and we lived in the UK before we moved here (I am American), and it is very much the done thing to let your cats out (here in Ireland, as well - heck, here in Ireland they just let dogs wander the streets). I don't feel comfortable with it, which is why our cats stay inside, but I have gotten more than my fair share of telling off for keeping them indoors. At the same time, however, a good friend of mine is thinking about getting a cat. He will be living on the top floor of an apartment and he was very concerned about not being able to let the cat outside. Then he saw how well our semi-feral kittens have adjusted to life indoors, and he now has no problem with it. As soon as he moves into the new place, he is getting a kitten!

My husband's cats were always indoor/outdoor cats. They were happy, healthy and almost all of them lived to at least 17. It is a personal choice and you need to do what you feel comfortable with. Some cats would be miserable indoors (my husband's old cat Rosie was one of them), but a lot of cats are perfectly fine with it. Like I said, ours are former feral kittens and they have no desire to go outside whatsoever. Our girl kitten got out of a window once, and as soon as she figured out how to get off our roof, she sat by the front door waiting to be let back in. None of our kittens have tried to get out of the house in the three months we have had them.
post #24 of 29
i think it really depends on the environment.
I was recomended to keep Samson indoors, but ive been seeing the way he looks out that window. I try and keep the house as enriched as i can but I just dont think i can compare to out there. I wouldnt dream of letting him out in the bustling city environment, but we live near a field. The cute terraced houses are absolutly perfect cat environments. I think if he could choose, he would want to be outdoors, but i also knows he loves us and that he would always always choose to come home again afterwards. In fact i think i might just be letting him out for a few hours at a time then calling him in, just so i know he is ok.
He is just waiting on the edge of his seat to get out there! got to watch the windows at all times! Not a chance he is gettin out there till he fits his collar, gotten chipped and neutered!
post #25 of 29
i agree with you a cat does not need to be outside it puts them in a lot of danger and indoor cat is a lot happier and lives a lot longer good luck
post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enuja View Post
All sides of this debate should drop the "cruelty" thing and leave it out of the conversation.

Fed? Healthy? In control of minute-to-minute location and activities? In an appropriate environment (large enough, comfortable substrate, with vertical space and things to paw it, be they insects, fabric, toys, or other organisms)? Not being treated cruelly.

End of story. Period.

Starved? Cruel.
Festering wounds? Cruel.
Trapped by a toddler and tail being pulled? Cruel.
In a small wire cage that they can't comfortably sit down in? Cruel.
Perpetually alone in a square room with a bare floor, food and water occasionally automatically delivered? Cruel.

In a home, with toys and humans and blankets, or outside with food and shelter, or indoor/outdoor - not cruel. We can debate which is better (I used to say indoor/outdoor, now I say indoor only), but we shouldn't call any of them cruel. They aren't.
Amen
post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Enuja View Post
All sides of this debate should drop the "cruelty" thing and leave it out of the conversation.
And I'm very happy to see that no one posting in this thread has suggested that either one or the other amounts to cruelty.
post #28 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your comments and opinions- it's really put my mind at ease. I was really put off about the whole conversation with my aunt, thinking I was making a blunder in how I "raised" my kitty.

If I lived in a more rural area, I wouldn't be so dead set against it- but I live in central NJ, about twenty minutes outside NYC.. there's way too much traffic and all sorts of other hazards to worry about. Thankfully, Niko doesn't seem too concerned with what's on the other side of the front door. He's never tried to make a mad dash while bringing in groceries or anything of the sort.

On a bit of a different note- when you do let your cat out for the first time (not planning to, but I have always wondered), how do they find their way home? That always made me wonder. Are they more likely to just venture to the yard, and go wandering further only after they're used to it?
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by beturtlement View Post
Thank you all for your comments and opinions- it's really put my mind at ease. I was really put off about the whole conversation with my aunt, thinking I was making a blunder in how I "raised" my kitty.

If I lived in a more rural area, I wouldn't be so dead set against it- but I live in central NJ, about twenty minutes outside NYC.. there's way too much traffic and all sorts of other hazards to worry about. Thankfully, Niko doesn't seem too concerned with what's on the other side of the front door. He's never tried to make a mad dash while bringing in groceries or anything of the sort.

On a bit of a different note- when you do let your cat out for the first time (not planning to, but I have always wondered), how do they find their way home? That always made me wonder. Are they more likely to just venture to the yard, and go wandering further only after they're used to it?
For me, it's not a case of opening the door and just letting the cat out. Before they are allowed out, there's a functional cat door available, and their first ventures out are closely supervised, until I know they know where the cat door is and how to use it, and I can tell that they also know which house/property is theirs. Most of my cats have been content to stay pretty close to home -- on the back porch or in the garden, and only occasionally venturing outside the gate or onto an adjacent property.
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