My opinion is that it is much safer for cats to be kept indoors only. There are so many dangers outside: cars; diseases; wild animals that they could get in fights with; sick and crazy people who will abuse them.
Dangers aside, there are other reasons to keep cats indoors-only:
When they are indoor-only, it is much easier to tell when they arenâ€™t feeling well. If they are outdoors even part of the time, you may not realize that they have urinary or digestive issues before they become big problems.
When they go outside, you canâ€™t control what they eat; they could end up ingesting something quite toxic outside.
Consideration for your neighbors: not everyone in this world is a cat lover, and most people (cat lovers included) donâ€™t appreciate a cat that doesnâ€™t belong to them using their garden as a litter box, or their cars as a bed, or their window screens as a scratching post. We used to have a neighbor who hated cats; he would trap these cats, call animal control and say they were strays even though he knew exactly who the cats belonged to (he would go so far as to take the collars off the cats!!!). And when my husband was growing up, one of his neighborâ€™s male cats decided my in-laws front steps â€œbelongedâ€ to him; the front of their house perpetually smelled like cat urine â€“ and they are not cat people.
Consideration for small wildlife: while it is a natural instinct for cats to hunt, it really isnâ€™t fair to song birds or mice to be hunted and terrorized by domestic cats.
Here are a couple other sad stories of outdoor kitties; two of these things happened to one of our cats when I was growing up, another happened more recently to a neighborâ€™s cat. Growing up, my parents believed in â€œindoor/outdoorâ€ with a heavy emphasis on â€œoutdoor.â€ Our one cat, Chorney, was cold one day. Unbeknownst to my mother, he crawled up into the engine compartment of her car to get warm. She started the car; it made a horrific sound but we didnâ€™t see anything. She drove off. After that incident, Chorney went missing; the only evidence was a TON of his fur on our driveway, which was attributed to a probable cat fight. However, as you have guessed by now, that was not the case. Chorney returned home about a week later; his tail was shattered and stripped bald, and he had numerous lacerations on his body. He had gotten caught in the fan belt of the car, and probably went for a good long ride with my mother. Miraculously he did survive; had to have his tail amputated, but he pulled through. However a year later â€“ because my parents didnâ€™t learn â€“ he was found dead in a neighborsâ€™ gardenâ€¦most likely hit by a car.
The other story is about Little Bear, my neighborsâ€™ cat. Little Bear liked to hang out in their back yard, and like many naÃ¯ve cat caretakers, his owner said â€œhe never leaves the yard.â€ Well one day Little Bear definitely left the yard; when he tried to get back in, he tried to squeeze himself back in through the pickets of their fence. He got stuck, and was stuck there for at least 3 hours. When they found him he seemed OK; they took apart the fence and brought him in. The next day they noticed his fur was wet and gross and he smelled horrific. Turns out his circulation was cut off while he was stuck in the fence, and gangrene had set in. After several surgeries, $2000+ in vet bills, and a recovery period of over 6 months, Little Bear is healed.
So you really never know what can happen while a cat is free-roaming. There are many dangers, and they are just far too curious for their own good. Our 6 indoor cats are as happy as can be; they have warmth, lots of window perches, tons of toys, we play with all of them every single day, and a reliable source for food and water. I rally think this is the safest option for domestic cats.