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letting indoor cats go outside?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I have been considering letting my 4 cats, whom have stayed inside so far, go outside. They try to sneak out every chance they get, not to mention the help that it would give with the litter odor. All 4 of the cats are fixed(3 male and 1 female). I am worried that they will get hit by a car, or won't come back home. Should I be concerned about them being outside or is this a natural thing for them?
post #2 of 25
This depends on where you live. Are there many other cats around? Strays? How about dogs? Do you live by a busy road? You must consider everything that could be a danger to your cats.

I take both Twitch & Lily outside, but only on a leash & harness. That way, they are safe. Other people have built/bought outdoor enclosures for their cats to go in to safely enjoy the great outdoors.

It's really up to you to decide if it's safe or not.
post #3 of 25
Unsupervised they are exposed to many risks including but not limited to:
- getting hit by a car
- getting attacked and hurt/killed by dogs and other animals depending on location, like racoons etc
- getting hurt in fights with other cats
- dying from eating anti freeze
- being snatched by someone who wants your cat for one reason or another
- getting ill from eating baited traps or rodent poison
- getting ill from eating sick rodents

Supervised, either in a contained yard or on a harness is another thing, but there's nothing natural about being run over by a car or killed by a poison.
post #4 of 25
If you have even the slightest concern about them being hit by a car then the answer is no, they should not be outside. There are so many dangers to cats outside that it really isn't worth the risk. If you feel that you must let them outside, is it possible for you to build them an outside enclosure? Several members have had sucess with using a leash and harness, that is another option. Just make sure to use a harness and not a regular collar.
I keep Dori inside and she is an only kitty. She seems to be very happy. When I get home from work we have a play session. During the day she has lots of windows to look out so she can see the squirrels and birds in the yard. I would like to get her a cat tree in the future as well.
post #5 of 25
You definately have to be aware of the environment that they will be in outside as well as the potential hazards they may face - which can be numerous. My cats do go outside - I have two. The mother was a stray and so had been on her own in the outdoors for awhile. Her two kittens - one of which we sadly lost in Feb. to FeLV - also go outdoors but stay in our backyard which is fairly large and surrounded by woods. I was clueless about FeLV and believe that Gateway picked it up from being outside. It is apparently very contagious and cats can pick it up from merely crossing a path left by an infected cat. My cats are all neutered, have rabies vaccines, and the now FeLV vaccines as well, having tested negative for FeLV. Fleas and ticks can be a problem for outdoor kitties. So we brush them and check for same and have them on Frontline. I work from home so my cats are in and out during the course of the day and pretty much respond to my call/whistle. I don't live on a busy street either, but try to keep them out back - because they will take off after a squirrel, etc.

Just be careful and try to quantify all the risks they may face. Cats are also very territorial as you may well know. Are there other cats in your neighborhood? An enclosure might be worth considering depending on your yard/environment.
post #6 of 25
Where do people get enclosures? Are there any fairly inexpensive ones?
post #7 of 25
My cat was a stray, and she definitely loves the outside. Which is why I take her out on her harness! She loves it. I can see how it would be a problem with four cats, though. There are many ways to make an enclosure, if you do a forum search I am sure you can find some. The most important aspect of it is that the bottom be buried far enough that they can't dig it out, and the top be unclimbable from the inside.
Please don't let your cats outside to roam freely. Outdoor cats have a lifespan of about 5 years, while indoor or supervised-only (leash, enclosure) can live 20 years healthily!
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by stephenq
Unsupervised they are exposed to many risks including but not limited to:
- getting hit by a car
- getting attacked and hurt/killed by dogs and other animals depending on location, like racoons etc
- getting hurt in fights with other cats
- dying from eating anti freeze
- being snatched by someone who wants your cat for one reason or another
- getting ill from eating baited traps or rodent poison
- getting ill from eating sick rodents

Supervised, either in a contained yard or on a harness is another thing, but there's nothing natural about being run over by a car or killed by a poison.
I agree with all these, and there are more.

I have seen information on actually building your own enclosure, you can do a search on google for that, or perhaps someone here knows about it. I think I remember seeing a post here about it somewhere.

I would recommend an enclosure. Even in a relatively "safe" environment, tragediies can happen.
post #9 of 25
If you have a fence (make sure it doesn't have gaps or holes, especially at the bottom where wood fences are subject to rot, you can keep the cat from getting over the fence with a great enclosure system that isn't expensive. look at www.catfencein.com.
post #10 of 25
All my cats have been indoor/outdoor cats. It's usually better to let them out when they are younger, so they get slowly used to the outside world, rather than when they are older. Bubbles couldn't get out of the garden until he was old enough, as I have a 6ft fence all around it. Now he is bigger, he jumps over it no problem.

If you do let them out, let them out via your backyard, not the front door (near the road). They will probably stay very close to the house for the beginning. And call them regulary and give them a treat, if they come home straight away (coming home straight away can mean 10 minutes for a cat!). Never close the door on them while they are out, they need to be able to run back home if they get spooked.

I prefer to let my cat out at night rather than the day, as there are less children and dogs about, but we do not have any racoons or other dangerous animals here, it depends on where you live really. English City Foxes are no threat to a cat, they generally ignore each other.

Oh, and I live in London.... so yes, we have plenty of cars about, but being a city, it's generally slow moving, so safer for a cat than fast moving country traffic. In Germany my cat lived to the ripe old age of 19 being indoor/outdoor. I couldn't imagine keeping a cat indoor only, my furniture would be shredded to bits, the fence outside looks bad enough!
post #11 of 25
They really are safer inside. Not only can they get hit by a car or wonder away, but they can be exposed to other outside cats that might be carrying parasites (fleas) or FELV, FIP. Also they could get into a fight with another cat and you would have additional vet expenses.

If you think they need to be outside, train them to accept a harness/leash (do NOT attach a leash to a collar - use a harness). Then you can sit outside or walk them a little and bring them inside.
post #12 of 25
sorry, but my neighbours would send me to the funny bin for walking a cat on a leash.... it's not a dog !

All the cats here are indoor/outdoor, there is plenty of them about. They have little standoffs, but no serious fights. Roads and cars are basically my only worry, but Bubbles doesn't like the roads and stays around the gardens instead. He sometimes goes out the front door, but never strays beyond the pavement and just runs back in the garden. His favourite place is on top of the shed in the sun or chasing insects in the grass.

Him wandering off ? No chance.... he knows where his food comes from. And he always comes in when I call him, and people around here already all have cats, they wouldn't steal him.
post #13 of 25
Tab goes outside with me every day. I don't need a leash because she only likes to sit in the back garden or occasionally wander along to the visit the neighbours. She won't go any further than that and runs indoors if she spots a squirrel or a duck lol. My old cat kipling however, used to disappear for 24 hours on a fairly regular basis, often coming back with scratches from fighting. He'd been abandoned as a young cat after the owner decided he couldn't be bothered to look after him and locked the cat flap. A friend found him in her greenhouse and i took him in. He cried constantly when i didn't let him out so i gave in eventually. Fortunately i knew he wasn't in danger of being run over as he'd just hop over the fence and disappear onto the golf course. I could even keep track of him with my binoculars on the days he didn't want to come back in. I still worried sick everytime it rained though and was often late for work because i'd spent ages standing on the door step calling for him. It is difficult when you take in a stray who is used to being outside.
post #14 of 25
I can only hope that those of you who think you "know" nothing bad will happen are right, for your cats' sakes. Maybe things are different where you live.

I have a stray who was used to being outside, who meows at the door to get out, and who is harness trained. My neighbors look at me funny, I live in an apartment complex, so there are plenty of them around. I'm not willing to endanger my cat because people look at me funny though. I also know that she has a healthy fear of anything with a motor. I'm glad, but it still doesn't convince me to just let her out. Any cat thats coming home with scratches after fighting is at the risk of infection at the least and life-threatening diseases as well.
Cats that have been outside their whole lives can be trained to enjoy being indoor only. Scratching posts, fun toys, clean litterboxes, etc.

The original posters question is about starting to let cats that seem perfectly happy but a bit curious about being outside out regularly. I would strongly advise against this. It is an unnecessary danger, and their curiousity is easily vented in ways that don't involve exposing the cats to numerous dangers that they don't face right now.
post #15 of 25
First off, before considering letting them out, make sure they are treated for fleas, ticks, and heartworm. Second of all, I had a cat when I was a kid thatwas hit by a car and killed, so I'm particularly uneasy about letting my own outside. I am however interested in these outdoor containments, you might want to consider some of these.

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...?N=2002+113873
post #16 of 25
Sunday will be the 1 year anniversary since our 7 month old cat disappeared. Most people here have indoor-outdoor cats, we live in a fairly quiet neighbourhood, and he was a stray kitten who wandered into our house, so it never occurred to us to keep him in. There is no way he ran away -- he was devoted to us, neutered, and had been used to going out so couldn't have gotten lost. We must conclude that he was attacked by a dog, hit by a car or poisoned. We have 2 cats now who aren't allowed to roam. We tried leashes but they resisted, so eventually we built an enclosure and they love being out there, and we love that they are safe. Every day I see a dead animal on the road. Yes, every day! And then I don't feel so guilty that our kitties are restricted.
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by madpiano
sorry, but my neighbours would send me to the funny bin for walking a cat on a leash.... it's not a dog !
Hmmm, get laughed at by neighbours or risk my kittys life. Pretty easy choice if you ask me.

After seeing me walking my cat, 2 neighbours have taken it up also.
post #18 of 25
I'll be slammed - but... indoor/outdoor is at the desire of my *cats*
I have one who is 17 almost, always indoor/out and has had MANY tiffs
with others. He's survived fine. I have one who NEVER wanted out... she's
17 too, and fine. I have a 2.5 yr old (aprx) Manx mix who is indoor/out
and is FINE.

OTH I also have a humane soc. foster I will NOT let out - walks on leash!!
If she WERE mine, I would also NOT let out - She's a pea brain dumb blond
cat (apologies to all the smart blondes out there, LOL!)
post #19 of 25
Like I said, I can only hope for your cats sake that nothing bad happens to them even though you are making it possible for all kinds of bads things to happen.

Of course cats "desire" going outside. It is your responsibility as the one with a rational capacity to know what is best for them and create safe outlets for them. If you could sit your cat down and discuss this with them, and explain to them all the bad things that could happen outside that can't happen inside, would they still feel that way? Even if they would, there are easy human analogies. 13-year-olds want to drive. Is that a good idea? No. It's dangerous. My grandfather, who's had a couple of strokes, wants to be left alone in the house for weeks at a time. Is that a good idea? No, also dangerous.

Nobody is trying to say that cats don't want to go outside. I'm just saying that I personally would never let my cat roam around because in my judgment that would be irresponsible cat parenting, just as it would be irresponsible parenting to let an 8-year old go to the mall by herself.
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom
I can only hope that those of you who think you "know" nothing bad will happen are right, for your cats' sakes

The original posters question is about starting to let cats that seem perfectly happy but a bit curious about being outside out regularly. I would strongly advise against this. It is an unnecessary danger, and their curiousity is easily vented in ways that don't involve exposing the cats to numerous dangers that they don't face right now.
post #21 of 25
But a cat is a pet, and not a prisoner ?

I hate seeing cats locked up in cages and houses. Yes, we can try to prevent any possible accident happening to our pets and kids, but by doing so we create much bigger problems. We now have a genration of overweight kids which are being driven everywhere, so nothing ever happens to them, we lock our cats up indoors and need Feliway, declawing or softpaws to cope with them.

Yes, cats can live indoors and have a caged outdoor enclosure. Just like a human prison with daily access to the outdoor yard.....And anyone remember their childhood as being supervised by their parents 24/7 ? Or was it more like being out with your friends on your bikes with no parent in sight ?
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by madpiano
But a cat is a pet, and not a prisoner ?

I hate seeing cats locked up in cages and houses. Yes, we can try to prevent any possible accident happening to our pets and kids, but by doing so we create much bigger problems. We now have a genration of overweight kids which are being driven everywhere, so nothing ever happens to them, we lock our cats up indoors and need Feliway, declawing or softpaws to cope with them.

Yes, cats can live indoors and have a caged outdoor enclosure. Just like a human prison with daily access to the outdoor yard.....And anyone remember their childhood as being supervised by their parents 24/7 ? Or was it more like being out with your friends on your bikes with no parent in sight ?
I don't think its like they are prisoners at all..some cats never even know about the outside of the home, and they are perfectly happy being indoors all the time.
Cats are not like humans..they are not going to realize it if they don't get to go outside if they have never been outside. I don't think that is a fair comparison.
It's fine to think that they should be able to do what they want and just let them outside on their own. But you have to accept that they could be in danger outside..and it is just simply if you want your cat to be safe or not.

It's ALWAYS okay to protect those you love from danger. A 14 year old kid is going to know better than to run in the street or eat antifreeze..a cat will not know better.
post #23 of 25
Certainly there are risks with a kitty going outside - here in the UK the approach to living with kitties is different to that in the US. It is very unusual for kitties to be indoor only unless they are purebred show or breeding kitties. In fact, the shelters here will not approve a family to adopt a kitty unless they can provide it with adequate access to the outdoors for the kitty to go outside when it wants/needs too.

I have a mix of kitties here, two indoor only and three indoor/outdoor girls. All our previous cats have been indoor/outdoor and all lived to a good age, passing away naturally at the end of their lives. We do have fewer health risks to kitties here than in the US or continental Europe as well. No dangerous predators like coyotes or raccoons and rabies is virtually unheard of. Other illnesses are regularly vaccinated against.

I think much of this discussion results from the cultural differences between different countries
post #24 of 25
MAdPiano - letting your cats out at night is the worst thing to do, the risks are greater to them then, esp if you have a dark coloured cat. Most rescue contracts state that you will keep them in after dark due to the risks.
I do disagree that outdoor cats can live as indoors with no probs. I have a cat who was a stray for 3 years, and there is no way he could be an indoor only cat. Even after an op for a dental and lump removal he wanted to go out within hours of coming home, but due to stitches, I made him stay in for 10 days and he was so depressed. Doesnt help that he no longer likes litter trays.
Fliss - more and more people are either having indoor only cats, or cat proofing. I am a member of a UK only forum, and it is becoming more and more common, although a lot of the people have done it after losing a cat to the road.
post #25 of 25
My cats used to go outside daytime only. Last summer My 10 year old tiggy who usually stays right in the yard or in back of the house in the wooded area. went outside one day a few hours later when I called for him and called and hunted I never ever found him or what happened to him. I live on a private road no cars no dogs running loose. And he always came in well before dusk. I will never let a cat outside to free roam again.Things happen outside that would not inside. Cats can and do live happy well adjusted safer lives inside.
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