"Someday, maybe Fred will win the fight
And the cat will stay out for the night"
Sorry, that picture just popped into my head
Don't people "put the cat out" anymore? Dell1234's post isn't completely "out there", many people still let their cats roam free or actually throw the cat out of the house at night. In the old days people kept cats to keep the house clean of mice, I remember in the countryside, many of the houses' doors had little holes at the bottom so the cat could come and go as it pleased. (I always thought, "pretty handy for the mice too, no?") But in most places it isn't very safe (cars, dogs, poisons, mean people, the list is endless...). A couple of neighbours who live in ground-floor apartments and have cats will leave their windows open and the cats will just park themselves on the ledges all day long. They NEVER run away! These are indoor cats that obviously have no problem with staying indoors, otherwise they'd just climb down and roam through the streets. Instead, they spend the day sleeping and observing what's going on (needless to say, these are patient grown-up cats and not hyperactive kittens).
But I think that if you love your cat, you shouldn't let it go outside alone, because it might just disappear one day and you'll never really know what happened to it. I sure wouldn't like to live with that on my conscience. But some people think cats have nine lives or think of cats as lesser pets. There's definitely some bias between cats and dogs in this respect. Probably because cats are seen as very independent creatures?