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Indoors vs. outdoors

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Last Christmas my husband and I adopted a 5 month old siamese neutered male (Karnak aka Karnie). We take him on walks to nearby parks. (Karnie has on both a harness and a retractable leash.) He's also allowed to play on the upstairs deck (which is sizeable). Today he figured out how to get down from the deck and went into a nearby neighbor's yard. We discovered he was missing probably no more than 30 minutes after his "great escape." We found him and brought him back inside. We think he left the deck because he wants to play with the other neighborhood cats. My questions is should we restrict him to the indoors with periodic walks or let him roam? We love him dearly and want him to be happy but worry about his safety. (Our neighborhood is not too near busy streets.) As a first time "mom" I'd really love to hear more experienced cat parents' opinions. Thanks!
post #2 of 23
There are many, many dangers in the great outdoors! Besides cars, there are very cruel people, other cats who are not friendly (causing scratches, abcesses, etc.) and horrible, nasty, DEADLY diseases that he can pick up even with vaccinations.

The first time we brought our little guy in, the vet asked if he would be indoor only, or allowed outdoor. He was very relieved when we told him indoor only. He said that cats who are allowed outside generally live maybe 5 years (generally less than 3) when faced with all the dangers, as opposed to 10-15 on average for an indoor only.

Taking him out for walks is still ok, because you eliminate 99% of the dangers just with you being there with him, and controling where he goes and what kitties he comes into contact with.

Sorry if I sound fatalistic, and if you live in a wide open country house there are definitely situations where this can be a realistic choice for the cat owner. Personally I think that if a person lives in a town or city and loves their kitty (which you obviously do), they will try to keep kitty inside.
post #3 of 23
I have inside outside cats, but I live in the country. I also have barns that need good mousers and I rescue ferals. With the exception of two of them, they all come in toward evening and find their respective spots in the house. If I lived in a city I would not have as many as I do and I would keep them indoors. But for me, this is what works.
post #4 of 23
Being an experienced mum of kittys for more than 8 years, my 3 beautiful kittys both live indoors and outdoors in a surbaban street.
They all have atleast 3 bells around their collars to prevent catching native wildlife and at night they are waiting on the door step to come inside in the evenings. There is nothing nicer than watching your kittys frolicking through your garden, chasing butterflys and having a good roll on the lawn. I also keep chooks who are free to scratch in the garden and this gives my kittys hours of entertainment hiding from them in the garden. I would never however let my kittys outside at night as all cats prowl in the darkness and this is how so many get killed on roads etc. I think if your kittys is used to the outdoors it would be a shame to never let him go outside, however if he has never really been out on his own then I dont see a problem making him an indoor cat. I have found that cats are easy to train, in my case it is out in the mornings and in and night and they know the rules, (the food is inside and when their hungar calls they will want to come inside). Hope this helps.
post #5 of 23
I suggest keeping your cat indoors unless you are there to supervise him during outdoor time. Allowing an indoor cat to roam outside is inviting danger (cats are pray to wildlife, cruel people, other cats/dogs, disease). The cons outweight the pros as far as allowing a cat outdoors.I think it's great that you take him for walks on a harness. Have you thought about building him an outdoor enclosure? He can still go out doors and check out whats going on but he'll be safe from any one of the possible dangers. He can lounge outside for a couple of hours in the enclosure in good weather and then come back in when he's ready. I think this is your best compromise for a cat that likes to go outside.

I live in a rural area and none of my cats are allowed outside (we have coyotes that live in the forested area across the road from out house plus a species of animal called a "Fissure" which is a fox like nasty piece of work that does eat cats and other domesticated animals when they are available). Infact the few times they have accidently slipped out the door (we've always been right there though) they literally freak out and try desperately to get back in!

post #6 of 23
I have four cats who live with me and one cat who lives with my dad. The four who live with me are inside only cats and the one who lives with my dad is an inside/outside cat.

I decided to have my four live indoors because we live in a heavily wooded area that is frequented often by coyotes. Also my neighborhood is just off a highway so the busy street is not too far from home. Working with cats I see many become infected with FIV and FELV not to mention the mess of bite wound abcesses so the other dangers are always in the back of my mind.

I do take them outside on a harness and let them roam around a bit but I never leave them unattended. They seem to enjoy their time outside but also enjoy their time inside just as much. We have a bird bath just outside the picture window so they can watch the birds and they have a bunch of different toys. I don't think they're missing out on much being inside and I think they lead a pretty good life.

My cat who lives with my dad goes outside because when I got him I was young and didn't want to clean up a litter box so he went outside. Benny lives in a quiet neighborhood and I have yet to see any coyotes around there. When he was younger he had gotten in a couple fights but now he hangs out with my dad's backdoor neighbor's cat. I could not make Benny an inside only cat as much as I'd like to because it would kill him. He loves the outdoors and for me to cut that off from him would make him miserable.

The issue on to let out or not I think depends on your situation. I do not feel comfortable letting my four outside because of the dangers just outside our door but for Benny as much as I'd like him to stay inside I know I wouldn't be doing him any favors.

One of our members kimward has some pictures of a neat little cat outside inclosure that she built. Maybe that's an option for you?
post #7 of 23
I have had cats all my life - and until I started keeping them exclusively indoors, the life expectancy averaged about 5 years. We lived on a farm, but the highway was close enough for my curious babies, and there are possums, coyotes, stray cats, diseases... it is just too dangerous out there for me to ever allow my companions outdoors again. I truly believe that, while of course they are curious about what's on the other side of the door, they are perfectly happy living indoors.
post #8 of 23
Our second cat was an outdoor cat and she was 17 when we had her put to sleep because of a bad kidney disease.All our cats were allowed to go outalthough I always try to keep an eye on them so that they can´t go too far. they can get inside all the time (pet door). I must admitt however that one of ours was killed by a car on a rainy evening when the sight was bad.All in all in the course of the years we´ve had 5 cats,2 are still in the house but allowed to go out.All the best Elisabeth
post #9 of 23
I would concur with those who say let your cats out but supervise them.

As we live on a major busy road, mine have been allowed out into the back garden (and it's quite a small garden) of our townhouse but only when either myself or hubbs are there to watch them. As the 2 persians are now 5 years old, the understand fully that they are not supposed to venture under the gate (we have parking for our cars at the back of the house reached by a private roadway).

By training them from a very yound age with harnesses tethered to allow them up to the boundary of the garden and not beyond, they know where they can and cannot go.

Of course - they do occasionally slip out. But yelling at them usually brings them back.

Really it's all down to getting them used to the parameters of what they can and can't do. Also - if you tie them up with their harness on WATCH THEM. They can get tangled up. Also, give them plenty of toys to ammuse them in the garden this will make them less inclined to explore further.

Good luck.
post #10 of 23
Also note though, that cats are very unpredictable creatures. You may *think* your cat will not leave your property and they will anyway. Definitely, supervision is the key. I still hold firmly to the idea of a cat enclosure but I suppose thats only possible if your property is large enough of course!

post #11 of 23
Our cat is strictly an indoor cat. She sits at the window and watched the strays that we have out here on our farm but she seems perfectly happy being indoors. We've left the door to the outside open while bringing in groceries or while we were moving some things to storage and she just laid in the sun room watching contently from indoors. The kids let her out accidently a couple of times when she was really young but seemed relieved when I went out and scooped her up and brought her back in. I say it is everyone's choice, for some it may be easier to have an outdoor cat, for others an indoor. I choose to have an indoor cat so I don't have to deal with ticks mainly. My personal thinking is that she is a cleaner cat because she is inside....which may be my warped way of thinking but I'm content and so is my cat.
post #12 of 23
I think that, ultimately, regardless of whether it's better to keep your cat indoors there will always be people who will freely allow their cats to roam. I think keeping your pet indoors where it's safe is part of responsible pet ownership especially since all of us know the dangers of allowing a cat outdoors. The strays I look after, I'm sure, would be a darn sight happier indoors where they would be out of the elements and away from cars, disease, other animals and so on and so forth so I cant imagine allowing one's indoor cat to be open to these dangers. Being allowed outside while supervised is one thing but being allowed to roam willy nilly is another.
post #13 of 23
Personally I endorse INDOOR ONLY.

Although cats are smart, alert, and adroit, they are no match for the many perils that await them outside. That's why the average outdoor cat lives only a third as long than the cat who's kept safely inside. Consider these threats:

Disease - Feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus are only two of the diseases that are passed from cat to cat and, once contracted, result in the eventual death of the pet. Outside cats are even more likely than dogs to dome into contact with rabid wild animals.

Parasites - Outdoor cats suffer from fleas, ticks, ear mites, and worms that indoor cats are not generally exposed to.

Poisoning - Poisons are found in lawn chemicals, bait left out to kill rodents, antifreeze, and other sources.

Other Animals - Fights with other cats, dogs, and wildlife often leave cats maimed or injured.

People - In our own community as well as others across the nation, cats have been the victims of burning, ritual torture and other abuses.

Cars - Cats often crawl into warm car engines in cold weather and are killed or badly injured when the unsuspecting driver starts the car. Most outdoor cats die prematurely from auto accidents. It is a myth that cats are "streetwise" about cars. No matter how alert, a cat is no match for a fast moving vehicle.

Unaltered cats allowed to roam and mate account for millions of the cats who must be euthanized each year because there aren't enough homes for them.

Becoming Lost or Trapped - Few cats reported missing are recovered by their owners. Some people who notice a cat in the area assume it can find its way home. Others assume the cat is abandoned and care for it without attempting to locate the owner. Cats may become inadvertently trapped for days in a neighbor's shed or a dumpster.

Cats can be completely happy inside if you provide them with toys, good care, and lots of love and attention.
post #14 of 23
I feel that you should limit your kitty's range. Bad things can happen to kitties outside. I always get upset when I see a poor kitty that has been hit by a car or hear of people hurting cats.. It would be far better to leave him in the house and take him on walks..

Good Luck
post #15 of 23
My cat Sweetie, was recently put to sleep because of cancer. She was for the most part an outdoor cat. She was allowed in but often opted to stay out especially for the night. As she got older, especially after she was sick, she stayed in more. Sweetie lived for 13 years. We live in the country and don't have many large predators in our area. I think that each owner has to evaluate the local environment to determine whether or not the cat should go out or not. Of course the owner who chooses to let their cat out should never neglect to keep up with the proper vaccinations.
post #16 of 23
This is a topic on which I feel very strongly!! I urge everyone to keep their pets indoors - trust me in the long run while the cat may complain and try to get out once in a while, it is well worth it!!!

I was a firm believer in letting my cat go outside. We live in the country with woods surrounding us. One day a loose dog chased my 1 year old cat into the road. A car came around the corner - dodged the dog, but hit my cat. I was 6 months pregnant and a complete wreck - he was bleeding from the ears and nose and when I got him to the vet his brain was starting to swell. He survived despite all odds!!!! However, he will never be the same - he suffered minor brain damage and the result was that he tries to scratch his head bloody. The vet gave me a victorian collar/cone that he wears all the time because without it he will shred his ears - side of his face and top of his head. The best they can figure is that he must have a constant ringing of the ears that makes him try to scratch it away.
post #17 of 23
I am a firm believer in allowing your cat the option to go outside:

if they have a microchip

if you live in a quiet area (traffic calmed or country)

if they are spayed/neutured

if you live in a country where the local fauna have defence mechanisms against cat-sized predators (i.e. not New Zealand).

Alf went out on Saturday evening for his constitutional. He got as far as the front garden wall, where he sat for 4 hours. He groomed himself, he slept, he chased flying insects, he said hello to every passer-by. He likes going outside, except when there is a hint of moisture in the air. Ronnie spent the same 4 hours running in and out of the house, because she could.

The majority of my friends have cats, all of whom are given the option to go out or stay in.

My cats came from the RSPCA, where they encourage you to allow your cat access to the outside world:

"To come and go as they please - a cat flap is ideal."

Yeah, it is dangerous outside, but it is also dangerous inside (Alf had to go to the vets yesterday, as he threw himself off the landing banister and damaged his leg).

Are we just weird in the UK for thinking it "normal" for cats to go outside? Are we just behind the times? Are are we ahead? We don't have declawing here...... (expecting to be flamed now)

My cats know where they live, they answer to their names, and come inside when I ask them to, they interact with other cats, they get to smell the flowers, eat grass, chase butterflies, taste the air, poo in the neighbours flower-bed( ), live a more interesting life.

This is my personal opinion, which many others disagree with, but my cats are happy, so I'm happy.
post #18 of 23
Although I am English by birth and have lived here all my life, I do feel there is a degree of irresponsibility towards cat ownership in this country as I think it is felt that cat ownership is an 'easy option'.

Example. My neighbours adopted 2 cats. It took 2 years before they got a cat flap. These 2 cats spent most of their time asleep in my house otherwise they would have no food or shelter. I nearly came to blows with then over this. Especially when they came to my door demanding to have their cats back (btw - we ended up being good friends with them in the end).

When I asked them why they took on the cats it was 'we felt sorry for them'!!!!!

I don't believe in nannying anybody or anything - however IT'S NOT SAFE!

Why don't people let their rabbits out to run free (apart from the fact they would end up in the stewing pot), or their dogs?

Why therefore is it felt that cats are able to fend for themselves against dogs, foxes, cars, sadists, chemicals?
post #19 of 23
Rabies is rampant in certain areas (which I know Britain has fought the Chunnel for years because Rabies was non-existant - and even here in the country (and I am 4 miles from the nearest country store - so I am very rural) traffic can be very heavy and fast because we are a popular summer tourist zone, but worse and it happens far too often here - teens and other whackos look for cats/kittens to torture and eventually kill. I have seen it happen before and will not allow my cats out because of it. Until the laws are stricter here, it is not worth the risk.

My cats are just as happy and content as any outside cat - as long as they have each other to play with and plenty of toys and niches to explore they are very content.

Cat flaps are also a bad idea in some areas - I have a neighbor who had (emphasis on had) a cat door - until a raccoon got into his house and attacked his cats when it realized it was cornered. ANYTHING that fits can get in that cat door if it wants.
post #20 of 23
My thought on my cats - they are my children - maybe in Feline form - but children nonetheless. I WOULD NEVER let my children roam free outside without being in my immediate view - there are too many sickos out there and too many things that could happen.

So my cats remain inside and I feel much better for it.
post #21 of 23
I hve a 5 month old kitten whom I keep inside, except for trips to the vet and an occasional ride in the car, jsut to get him out once in a while. I am sure that he would just "LOVE" to go out and splunk the entire state of Delaware, but I am fearful of the dangers, and so I don't plan to ever let him outside.
post #22 of 23
I'm so surprised no one has mentioned harnesses or outside cat enclosures/walkways! We're training our kitties to harnesses right now and plan to take them out on leashes. Many people on this site do that. There are also wonderful outdoor enclosures (for those of you with the space for it), some very cleverly designed. This is an option for the indoor only cat to get some time to sniff the grass, feel the snow, and chase a few butterflies!
post #23 of 23
I used to use harnesses and don't anymore... for one simple reason. When I took my cats back inside, the second you opened the door they would both go tearing off and take off for the woods across the road. That bit of time in the fresh air made them think they could go out at any time. And it was impossible to get the kids to remember that they had to scan the house for cats before they opened a door.
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