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Is it better mentally for cats to have access to the outside? - Page 2

post #31 of 49
I had a beautiful indoor outdoor calico kitty for 8 years, named Babygirl. that I had found as a stray. She would crawl under the covers at night with me, laying her head on a pillow, while her body was under the blankets. Every morning she would meow to go out and I would let her. Every night at dusk, I would go out and call her and she would always come running. She would go to the street and look left and right before she crossed. And LOVED being outside. Until one day, I went to call her and she never came. I looked for her for a year. That was 5 years ago and I have moved since then, but still go by there to see if I spot her. I failed her as her caregiver because I thought she was happy being outside and it was "natural" for her. I feel so guilty that I did not keep her safe. I have to live with the fact that I will probablly never know what happened to her, if she's alive, if she's happy.

I have since found another stray, who happened to be pregnant. I kept her and her babies. From a very heartbreaking experience with Babygirl along with very bad judgement, I decided to make them all inside only kitties. It took a long time for the mommy kitty to adjust to being inside, well over a year. Many, Many times I had to listen to her cry and help her get her mind off of the situation, by playing with her. Now she is a very happy kitty and NEVER cries to go outside. Shes been inside for a little over 3 1/2 years now.

Although, we all have to make our own decisions for what is best for our babies. Dangers do lurk on the outside. As humans, we are the only ones who can do our best to protect them and keep them out of harms way. Sometimes that does mean being inconvenienced, but its so worth it to know that your babies are inside and safe. And cats can adjust to being inside. Its ok if they cry, you can redirect them. It just takes consistency and patience, but oh so worth it.
post #32 of 49
I think it depends on where you live. In the UK, outdoor access for cats is so natural, that I wasn't allowed to adopt a cat from the shelter or the local Cat Protection League because I couldn't provide 24/7 access to the outdoors.
But then we don't have coyotes here. Just foxes, and they tend to ignore cats.
My cats have access to the good old outdoors every morning and all night and seem to be happy with it. I don't like to leave my Patio Door open all night, but the cats come first, and they much prefer to have night-time access to the outdoors than day-time. I guess thats due to the amount of dogs round here...

I have no idea how people in Coyote-country cope with cats..aren't you scared ??????
post #33 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by madpiano
I think it depends on where you live. In the UK, outdoor access for cats is so natural, that I wasn't allowed to adopt a cat from the shelter or the local Cat Protection League because I couldn't provide 24/7 access to the outdoors.
But then we don't have coyotes here. Just foxes, and they tend to ignore cats.
My cats have access to the good old outdoors every morning and all night and seem to be happy with it. I don't like to leave my Patio Door open all night, but the cats come first, and they much prefer to have night-time access to the outdoors than day-time. I guess thats due to the amount of dogs round here...

I have no idea how people in Coyote-country cope with cats..aren't you scared ??????
And in the U.S. humane societies and many shelters don't allow people to adopt cats unless they promise to keep them indoors. Coyotes is one of the many reasons we're urged to keep cats inside. I believe the best way to keep a cat is indoors with access to an outdoor enclosure. I think cats can certainly be kept in pet friendly apartments and/ or condos since most people can't afford a house, especially not here in the expensive city of San Diego. But in this case, let them out on the balcony and supervise them while they're out. Cats can and do jump on railings wander over to neighboring balconies. A chain link fence around the balcony railing will prevent the cat from slipping through the bars of the railing but not from jumping on top of it. So watch them. Some cats can be trained to walk on a leash and harness but my cats won't tolerate it. If I lived in a house with a yard I would want a luxurious outdoor enclosure for them with the best of cat furniture inside of it. With this kind of happy medium, cats can be inside and outside and be safe. My motto is basically, yes, let your cats enjoy the fresh air and sunshine but do not allow them to jump over your fence or stray from your property. We don't let dogs leave our property. Cats shouldn't be allowed to do that either.
post #34 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by madpiano
I think it depends on where you live. In the UK, outdoor access for cats is so natural, that I wasn't allowed to adopt a cat from the shelter or the local Cat Protection League because I couldn't provide 24/7 access to the outdoors.
same here - cats protection wouldn't let me adopt 2 cats from them 9 years ago as I live in a flat near a busy road. I intended to keep them indoors but they wouldn't let me do that (I eventually got 2 kittens from a shelter that didn't do homechecks or ask too many questions). It is slowly changing though and organisations such as cats protection do now recommend that cats are kept indoors at night for their own safety. A lot more people have indoor cats these days and most breeders of pure bred cats will only home them to indoor homes (or indoor/outdoor enclosure homes).
post #35 of 49
Thread Starter 
Here's where my wife and I are at with this. Due to the wonderful way HOA's work we really can't put up the cat fencing even though I personally have no issues with spending the money on it. With everything we would need to get to make it work, it would made our yard look more like a prison complex and the HOA simply won't allow it.

Therefore what we are going to do is allow the cats to go outside during the day, and we will lock them inside at night. As i've stated before we have dogs with a dog door and the cats go out the dog door. I don't see a way for us to stop that and the dogs absolutely must have access to the outside during the day. What we are going to do is head to the local animal shelter and rescue another kitty or two and give it a good home. If it wants to wander away and a coyote gets it then at least we can say we gave it an opportunity.

As far as the indoor/outdoor thoughts of the cat goes, I can only go by my experiences. When the cats are out they are playing around in the grass and chasing bugs and just having a great time, and like I said we have a dog door so they are out there completely by choice. It's clear to me cats want access to the outdoors. Hopefully, with this compromise, we can still have cats and they can have access to the outside - and we'll try to force the issue of them being inside at night so we know they are safe.
post #36 of 49
"What we are going to do is head to the local animal shelter and rescue another kitty or two and give it a good home. If it wants to wander away and a coyote gets it then at least we can say we gave it an opportunity."

You're going to do WHAT???????????????????????????????????????

Another cat or two should be new members of your family. Not coyote bait. This does not qualify in any way as being "an opportunity". The idea of this is so beyond my comprehension I don't even think I can politely say any more.
post #37 of 49
Are you kidding ???????
post #38 of 49
Okay.

I'm sorry if my earlier reaction seemed... harsh. Many of us work/volunteer in shelters and if anyone said anything remotely close to the part I quoted earlier, they would not be taking home a cat from us.

Now. I will try to respond to your post in a calmer manner. Homeowner's Associations (HOA) can be ridiculous, I know what you're up against. My dad started one so nobody could put up a shed. I hate living in neighborhoods like that although they tend to be friendlier and safer. So that's too bad about the cat fencing. I hope you actually asked them about it, it wasn't clear in your post. Cat fencing can be nearly invisible. I'm glad you have decided to keep your cats inside at night at least, even though permanently would be better and you have had numerous ideas about this proposed, none of us know your house and I guess that is what works best for you. I still can't imagine letting cats outside knowing they might be eaten or attacked by coyotes on top of everything else that comes standard with having indoor/outdoor cats. I do agree with you that cats enjoy being outdoors. It's just that there are significantly safer ways to do it, including enclosures and harness-training. My cat goes outside, with me, on walks on her harness because I know she likes being outside as she was a feral cat. She is indoors only except the few times a week I take her out. This does not work for all cats, but for us it works very well. Nobody thinks cats wouldn't choose to go outside. It's just that this is not what is best for them. They don't want to take medicine for illnesses either, but we know that it may be lifesaving and do so anyway. And in your case, keeping the cats inside may very well be lifesaving as it has already proven fatal for your other cats.

As for adopting two cats and not really caring if they get killed. I hope you didn't mean what you said but I cannot possibly imagine how you could say that and mean something else.

ALL cats deserve a safe, happy home where they are loved. The lackadaisical attitude towards the well-being of your potential adopted cats leads me to believe that you would not provide this. If you absolutely must adopt more cats, although I do wish you would reconsider until you can keep them in where they won't be killed, adopt cats who haven't been outdoors and keep them inside. Cats who have always been inside often won't even go out a door left open unsupervised for hours. And keep them inside. Otherwise, don't adopt them.

It is not cruel to keep cats inside, and in your case, it is almost irresponsible to let them out knowing full well the risks they face of being mauled or killed by a coyote. You have a direct, obvious, and well-proven threat to your cats basically right outside your yard, and you cannot guarantee that your cats are protected and in fact know that they aren't, but you let them out anyway. Bringing more cats into this situation just makes it worse, and I have no idea why you'd want them if you wouldn't care if they died or not and would in fact have talked yourself into some nonsense about how "at least they got an opportunity". The cats don't know they might be killed by a coyote--- you do, and it is up to you to protect them.
post #39 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom
Okay.

I'm sorry if my earlier reaction seemed... harsh. Many of us work/volunteer in shelters and if anyone said anything remotely close to the part I quoted earlier, they would not be taking home a cat from us.

. The cats don't know they might be killed by a coyote--- you do, and it is up to you to protect them.
Okay, 3 things (remember, I am on your side about indoor/outdoor cats )-
1) Coyotes are mainly, overwhelmingly a nighttime problem, don't try, make them , stay in at night-it's just a few hours and they will eventually get bored and sleep, especially if they are out running around during the day

2) I would stick to the 2 cats you have for now, get them used to being in at night until they have a well established habit of coming in at dark and consider waiting until these have passed away before adding new ones. And ALWAYS keep new cats in for a while, a long while, before you let them out, and then only supervised and for short periods. Be sure to aquaint them with the coming in treat time BEFORE you let them out unescorted. Perhaps your new cats will be like my Smooch and not want to go out 99% of the time, let alone leave the yard, and

3)My cats do know when the coyotes are coming around (they just pass through our neighborhood) and are home and in for the night even before I call them. Then I know the coyotes are due to come through one night real soon. .

It is our responsiblity to protect them, but we know our cats better than anyone else, and have to do right by them and ourselves. I love my cats and my dog and my turtle, but they are ultimately animals, not children. Some just need to be allowed to be animals. To each his own, when it comes down to it. Good luck.
post #40 of 49
Ultimately, we are animals too. However, we have the aforethought to know when we are in danger, and though cats often are even better at this than we are, new cats who have been safe inside have no idea that they may be at any time killed by a coyote. Obviously, the OP's cats don't know or they wouldn't have already been killed by coyotes...

Indoor cats have a lifespan of 15 or 20 happy years. Cats allowed outside have lifespans of 2 and a half to 5 years. (Yes, there are outdoor cats who live twenty years and indoor cats who live one. These are statistics and averages, not preditcions).

I fear that for these cats those might be overshots.
post #41 of 49
http://www.thecatsden.net/
this one also make outdoor enclosure. it is not cheap but it is suppose to last 10 yrs, maintenance free. it's canadian base but they ship to US as well.

*sigh* i rent a basement now and could only take my cats to my bf's place to enjoy sunlight every once in a while. when i get my own place in the future i'd definitely buy / build a outdoor enclosure.
post #42 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by catsallover
Okay, 3 things (remember, I am on your side about indoor/outdoor cats )-
1) Coyotes are mainly, overwhelmingly a nighttime problem, don't try, make them , stay in at night-it's just a few hours and they will eventually get bored and sleep, especially if they are out running around during the day

2) I would stick to the 2 cats you have for now, get them used to being in at night until they have a well established habit of coming in at dark and consider waiting until these have passed away before adding new ones. And ALWAYS keep new cats in for a while, a long while, before you let them out, and then only supervised and for short periods. Be sure to aquaint them with the coming in treat time BEFORE you let them out unescorted. Perhaps your new cats will be like my Smooch and not want to go out 99% of the time, let alone leave the yard, and

3)My cats do know when the coyotes are coming around (they just pass through our neighborhood) and are home and in for the night even before I call them. Then I know the coyotes are due to come through one night real soon. .
That sounds like sensible advice. I would stress the bit about making them stay in. To begin with they might not like it and it will be all to easy to just let them out because it seems that's what they want. Cats are very adaptable and they will eventually get used to being indoors at night and adapt to their new routine. Remember that you're not being cruel keeping them in at night, you're doing it for their own safety and they are still going to be allowed out during the day. They will cope if you can stick to your guns and not give in.

I'm unclear as to why you are considering getting more cats? If you have decided to keep your existing cats indoors at night then surely it would make sense to keep the new cats inside too?
post #43 of 49
Thread Starter 
Thanks for responding and I understand everyone's concerns. I have them as well. I'm not a new cat owner and I don't take cat ownership responsibility lightly. All my cats have always been treated as members of the family and I care about them all. My wife was a vet assistant for years, and i've donated lots of money to animal rescue groups. We definately care about all the critters out there. Please don't take my saying that if something happens to it that it means it doesn't affect me.

I simply don't agree with the statement that it's "our job to protect them". My point of view is, and always has been, it's up to us to give them a nice safe place to live. If they choose to wander out of that safe place then it is at their own peril. I don't think safe = locked up. I could keep my cat in a 2x2 cage for 20 years and she'd be very safe but I don't think anyone would say it's best for her mentally (the thought behind the thread) or physically. So, i'm attempting a compromise with the two positions by allowing them to go out during the day when it's safe, and locking them in at night when it isn't (and of course the new cats would be as well).

With the two cats we have left they both go outside but neither of them go very far. One, in particular, i've got no worries about since she never leaves the yard.. the other one tends to wander a bit further than I am comfortable with which is why we lock them up at night.

The cat we recently lost was our son's cat. He loves the cats and this one was his. When we called and told him about what happened (he's away for the summer) he was very upset but a week later he said he would like another cat before school starts up again. As long as we have dogs, and we will always have dogs - there won't be a way for us to keep the cats inside the yard during the day. So are we never to have new cats? I think our getting one from the shelter that would be otherwise euthanized and giving it an opportunity to life out a happy life is a good thing. Nope, I can't guarantee the safety 100% - but isn't it better than it having no chance at all? Again we will do everything we can to get the cats in at night (we've developed bell ringing and treat time thing to get the remaining 2 cats to come running in when it gets dark.. seems to be working rather well). However if we call and call and call and wait for hours and they don't come in.. they are on their own.

The cat-fence thing was a real dissapointment. We figured with the size of our yard it would cost about $3,000 to get it all set up and we were going to do it (well we were going to have them come out and survey our yard first.. not sure it would work with our weird configuration anyway). Because our yard is visible from a back street (which is a pretty long way away) it's got to meet the "uniform" guidelines and we can't have extra fencing, sheds, etc.. So we're out of luck there. We will, however, be putting up a practically invisible mesh against the wrough iron of the back to stop the cats from going that direction.. at least it's something. It wouldn't work preventing them from climbing out of the yard to the front of the house where it is more dangerous however.

We talked about the "get a street-smart cat" or "get a cat that's used to being indoors". What a weird thing that all is. Street smart cats tend to be the ones that wander the furthest away for hunting and get themselves in trouble.. and cats the used to be indoors usually find out how to get out and LOVE IT out there and don't have their mind on the potential dangers that lurk. So it's not a clear choice. The 2 cats we've lost both fell into exactly one of those categories.
post #44 of 49
I don't disagree with your solution to keep the cats in at night or of your intention of allowing them outside during the day. I think it was this statement in your previous post that has got a few people rattled and/or confused!

Quote:
Originally Posted by General Zod
What we are going to do is head to the local animal shelter and rescue another kitty or two and give it a good home. If it wants to wander away and a coyote gets it then at least we can say we gave it an opportunity.
In print it sounded a bit cold and heartless - like you were saying you would keep your existing cats in but didn't have the same concern over the safety of any new cats as you expressed in your original post. I do think we have a responsibility to protect our pets from harm - they're not wild animals but domesticated versions of wild animals and we often keep them in environments that they wouldn't naturally choose to live in and which contain many dangers. Just as we take them to the vet when they're sick, we need to also assess their safety and do what needs to be done to provide an acceptable compromise between their safety and their quality of life. For most of us in an urban environment keeping them indoors is the solution. Your circumstances are different however, and if you can get around the coyote problem by keeping them in at night then giving them outdoor access during the day that sounds like a good solution for you.
post #45 of 49
I live in northeastern Massachusetts where we have had an influx of coyotes in the last few years. I have 10 cats, 8 of which were feral rescues. They are all indoor cats. The former ferals seem to not miss the outside. I think they like their comfy fleece beds better. Sure, they chatter at birds from the windows but they really seem to have no desire to go out. I tried taking one of my non-ferals out on a leash...which he seemed happy about until a loud truck drove by and he bolted inside in an instant. These days, no one I know lets their cats outside and you rarely see any cats outside.
post #46 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom
You are going to find that most American members of this site strongly encourage indoor-only unless you live in a rural area with few cars and of course no dangerous predators. In other countries, the story is a little different.

Outdoor cats have a significantly decreased lifespan and are at risk of contracting all sorts of diseases, and getting into all sorts of trouble. Indoor cats are often just as happy as outdoor cats and are almost always safer and healthier. There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping your cats inside. It is a different lifestyle, and you need to provide everything they need to stay stimulated, such as scratching posts, toys, playtime, etc. Cats can be happily converted into indoor-only without much trouble. I can't imagine letting your cats out after the devastating deaths of your other cats due to coyotes.

A cat who tries to run out the door has likely not been an indoor-only cat for life. Yes, they like to go outside if they have been but we are responsible for them and outside, especially when there's coyotes around, is not what is best for them. A cat that has always been indoor-only will usually not even try to go outside and may even be scared of it.


I concur. It's too dangerous for cats outside with the threats of predators, disease (even though my cats are all vaccinated against pretty much everything), and traffic (not to mention the psychos who will steal your cats). For the most part, I make sure to have cat furniture for them to climb on, sunny windows for them to lounge in, and safe, live plants like catnip and wheatgrass for them to nibble on (strangely, one loves live chives. I can't grow them; he mows them down as soon as they sprout.).
post #47 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skaterkitty
These days, no one I know lets their cats outside and you rarely see any cats outside.
I meet people often who let their cats outside - mostly in quiet suburban or rural settings in my area. I used to be one of them, but I feel I've wised up since then. I like the fresh air and sunshine, and I admit that I feel bad occasionally about my pets not having the chance to run and climb and chase bugs and so on.

On the other hand, I love my pets, and would rather they live longer and comfortably than shorter and in discomfort. I deal with those guilty moments by playing with my cats regularly, grooming them, giving them cat tree furniture and toys, and spending time enjoying their company.

Local law prohibits owned pets being outside without an owner's supervision, although the law is barely known and rarely if ever enforced. I'm ambivalent about that, since the way it is sometimes abused is to enforce it against feral cat caretakers (as a harrassment technique). I try to convince people that keeping their pet indoors is the right thing to do for the reasons that I keep mine in. I do think people are beginning to take pet ownership more seriously. Unfortunately, I think how that is playing out, is with fewer people willing to have pets in the house, leading to fewer homes for homeless animals.
post #48 of 49
One more thing: I think it's a myth that cats like the outdoors better than the indoors. It's this same rationale that causes people to dump unwanted domestic cats in the woods. They are really not equipped to survive (which is another issue not entirely related). These are creatures who have been domesticated for thousands of years. Yes, some cats (not all) still like to hunt, but I would not let them outside merely for that reason. And indoor cats can still lounge in the sun and eat grass. Of course, it's easiest if the cat has never been outdoors to begin with but as I mentioned in a previous post, even my former feral cats don't want to go out. They seem to appreciate the comfort and security of being inside and fed regularly.
post #49 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by General Zod
Here's where my wife and I are at with this. Due to the wonderful way HOA's work we really can't put up the cat fencing even though I personally have no issues with spending the money on it. With everything we would need to get to make it work, it would made our yard look more like a prison complex and the HOA simply won't allow it.

Therefore what we are going to do is allow the cats to go outside during the day, and we will lock them inside at night. As i've stated before we have dogs with a dog door and the cats go out the dog door. I don't see a way for us to stop that and the dogs absolutely must have access to the outside during the day. What we are going to do is head to the local animal shelter and rescue another kitty or two and give it a good home. If it wants to wander away and a coyote gets it then at least we can say we gave it an opportunity.

As far as the indoor/outdoor thoughts of the cat goes, I can only go by my experiences. When the cats are out they are playing around in the grass and chasing bugs and just having a great time, and like I said we have a dog door so they are out there completely by choice. It's clear to me cats want access to the outdoors. Hopefully, with this compromise, we can still have cats and they can have access to the outside - and we'll try to force the issue of them being inside at night so we know they are safe.
I dunno. I think you should still keep them inside. Cats being cats, they are not always going to come in when you call. There is no compromise.
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