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Indoor vs. Outdoor cats and world perspective

I am cutting and pasting this from another web forum I frequent. There was some debate about letting domesticated cats outside, and this came up from a woman who has a PH D in the environmental science field: 

Please keep in mind that you can be fined 10,000 for letting your cat eat a
migratory bird per the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. I am sorry that you value the
freedom of your domestic cat over the lives of the native wildlife of our
region. Many of the birds in your yard and neighbors yards are migratory birds.
And you are knowingly breaking the law.

I do feel that anyone that lets their cats out is irresponsible. I know that is
a strong statement, but letting your cats out with such strong scientific
evidence from multiple countries is very strong evidence of the degree of the
problem. I have a M.S. and a Ph.D. relating to issues affecting wildlife
populations, particularly birds. I am not writing on this issue with a lack of
background. I have provided ample references and you choose not to read and
understand the material. I hope you take the time to think about this issue for
a larger perspective then you currently exhibit.

Have you ever though about the deadly parasites your cat gets from eating
wildlife? Maybe you should talk with some zoo officials in charge of feeding
large cats. They are not given freshly killed wildlife or allowed to kill their
own food because of the potential dangers to the cats.

How about the effects of cats peeing in children's sandboxes?

I also have written Ingles and encouraged them to charge for plastic bags. The
US lags behind in many environmental issues. We as a nation have a lot to learn
from other countries that are doing much better. Please keep in mind that you
are bring up many other issues to justify your irresponsibility over the cats
you choose to take on as pets. These are important issues, but they do not take
away importance from the environmental damage free-ranging domesticated cats do
to our world.

Just wondering what you might think about this. I am starting to fall in the category of thinking that pet ownership is not necessarily a good thing. On the other hand,  humans have been so irresponsible and let the populations of dogs and cats get out of control, so it might be the right thing to do to give one a home.  I'm torn. Although I am pretty sure when my cat dies, I will not get another.

hmmm.....the only thing that bugs me about this is the statement 'but letting your cats out with such strong scientific evidence from multiple countries is very strong evidence of the degree of the problem.'

What countries? What problem? What was the evidence?

Personally, one of my dogs have killed more wildlife (birds, lizards, opossums, wasps) in our backyard than all my indoor/outdoor cats combined. Mind you, I don't always watch the cats/can see the 'carnage' but from what I've seen of them and how they behave, I very much doubt they have killed more wildlife than that one dog who climbed trees.


This sounds like extreme leftist propaganda. I am not going to hold my cat prisoner in my house and not let it go outside if that's what it wants to do. Who am I to say she can't go outside? I make sure my cats are vaccinated and fixed, before they go outside. Also, if they kill a bird, so be it. That's part of the nature of being a cat. My cats over the years have killed MANY birds, as cats will do, and I would personally love for some hippie liberal to call someone to get me fined for it. Laughable, really.


So, is the author against having all felines in the wild?  Should we round up all cats and make them live indoors just so they can live longer, and not "pee in children's sandboxes?"

Ftr, my two cats are indoor cats, though if I lived in the country I'd probably let them outdoors.

There are inherent risks in everything we or any other animal does, and to try and restrain everything for some unknowable future risk sounds a bit insane.


Being a biologist, I'm inclined to be sympathetic to cat overpopulation and predation on the natural population of birds. 

That being said, Cat was abandoned and shopped for a new home.  He interviewed me, found me acceptable, and moved himself into my, at the time, apartment.  I don't think it was wrong to be his caregiver.  I also let him outside.  Since he had lived on the streets for so long, he got depressed and listless if he didn't get to go outside.  He basically killed and ate mice and squirrels (when he could get a young one) and killed gophers and sometimes lizards but didn't eat those.  He wasn't a birder. 

I wouldn't get a cat from a shelter, but I'd likely agree if another stray wanted to live with me.


I wish I could let my cats outside and have them hunt, then I wouldnt have to buy as much cat food!  But we live next to a 5 lane highway.  : (


As an avid bird watcher, I am against letting cats outside.  I live in the country and have 2 happy indoor cats.  I have a neighbor that has 3 outdoor cats and another strict catholic neighbor who has 1 who refuses to get it fixed (!!!) so there are already more than enough felines around.

It makes me angry to see the cats on my property stalking wildlife.  But like many other animal problems & wildlife issues,  they are human introduced.  It's not the cat's fault for hunting and killing birds and wildlife and reproducing; it's their instinct.


Our two cats - both vaccinated and neutered - love chilling in the back garden on the patio. They were allowed outdoors with their first owner before we got them and Freddie in particular loves checking out the garden and begs to be let out even when the weather's foul. Perhaps if we lived in an area which had some super-rare bird or we were near a busy road we'd reconsider, but otherwise it doesn't seem fair to them to suddenly change their lifestyle.


what about letting cats out on "clotheslines"? I've seen people with clothes lines in their backyards, and they've set up a sort of zip line that a long leash can be attached to, allowing their dog/cat to roam the yard but not leave it, thus avoiding cars etc.

I couldn't find a better picture than this diagram, but you get the idea. Most of the ones I've seen have quite a large range of space - the clothesline usually spans the whole yard, and the leash attached to it is pretty long.


we have an indoor cat that loves to watch the wildlife outside, in fact we have a chipmonk that likes to watch him back!  :D

HH, why wouldn't you get another cat from the shelter?  You are just giving a home to a cat that needs one.


... another strict catholic neighbor who has 1 who refuses to get it fixed (!!!) so there are already more than enough felines around....

I'd make that cat disappear for a day or two and send him home a "new" man.


HH, why wouldn't you get another cat from the shelter?  You are just giving a home to a cat that needs one.

I'm not a fan of making animals pets.  That doesn't mean that I didn't desperately love Cat, but I wouldn't go pick out an animal to take into my home.  With Cat, it was different.  He decided to move in with me out of his own free will - he had a part in the decision-making process.


I am starting to fall in the category of thinking that pet ownership is not necessarily a good thing.

so many things i want to say, but i can't think of words that aren't going to make a lot of people angry, so i'm just going to say i agree with this statement.


As someone who works in animal rescue, I think I have a bit of a different opinion than most (or at least most who have posted). 

In reply to the indoor/outdoor thing, I think it's irresponsible to allow cats to roam.  Letting them roam at large puts them at risk for disease (including very serious ones like feline leukemia and FIV, both of which do not have effective vaccines), injury/death, among other issues.  If you have a secured yard (by this I mean with cat-proof fencing, not just a fence), I think it's perfectly fine to allow cats outside.  Just as you would a dog.  Dogs aren't allowed to roam at large in a city, and in the city that I live in, neither are cats.  I have 3 perfectly happy indoor cats because we don't have a secure yard.  I take one of my cats on leash to a local park to let him roll in the grass, sniff and scratch trees, etc.  The other two are content watching critters out the window and "hunting" bugs that come into the house. 

On the "pet ownership not being a good thing" issue, why not?  When animals are well cared for, it is a mutually beneficial relationship and what exactly is wrong with that (this is not a rhetorical question--I really want to know)?  Yes, there are animals that are mistreated, but there are also many animals that are living large and loving life.  The alternative to pet ownership is allowing millions of animals die every year in shelters.  Yes, they are domesticated and yes, a domesticated lifestyle is a far stretch from living "free", but isn't it better than being dead?  There have been so many studies done on the therapeutic benefits of having a companion animal, and the animals love the relationship, too.  So what if they aren't "free" and "natural"?  If they aren't suffering and instead live fulfilled lives, then what is the harm?  Granted, if I could go back in time and prevent domestication in the first place, I probably would just because of all of the suffering that has occurred.  But maybe I wouldn't because the relationship is so special to so many people and animals.  You can see it in the eyes of the dogs we adopt out at the shelter I work for.  They just "know" that they are going somewhere they will be loved.  How can you look at those grateful faces and deny the goodness of animal companionship?


Point taken.  Cat could have gotten a kidney transplant, but he was ineligible because he was FIV positive.  Since it was a one-cat house, he got it from when he was outdoors.


kbuette - I'm not against people providing caring environments for animals - in my next life I want to be a cat in mdv's house.  For me, though, I don't feel comfortable with basically telling an animal it has to live with me now.

p.s.  I hope you reinstate your profile.  Things are whacky around here because of pot-stirring.


up until I was 20 or so I always thought it was cruel to keep a cat as an indoor animal.....I think that's because I grew up in a house that was basically in the middle of farm land and so in my mind it seemed 'natural'.

I now think that it is absolutely fine to keep cats indoors - Gary is a perfect example of a very happy indoor cat, but maybe her case is a bit different to most (having been locked in a single room for several years, the run of our 2 bed flat must be better for her).

I think that it is really up to the individuals (both humans and cats) as to whether a cat should be an indoor or outdoor cat - and depends on where they live.  I would never let Gary out in London, but we have discussed what we will do in NZ and I think we have decided on some outside life for her if we have a garden - if she wants it.

PS MDV did I know your mum's cat was also called Gary?!  How cool!


I do the compromise and let my cats out on my balcony. Since I live in a busy apartment complex that has a cat colony living under the building, it seems a little foolhardy to let them roam everywhere. I have always enjoyed cats and view them as members of the family. As long as they are respected, I don't see why having pets would be a bad thing.


indoors. i think they get exposed to too many diseases, predatory wildlife and could possibly run away or get lost while out and about. the whole purpose of getting a domestic pet is for companionship, not to have it roam wildly outside and then become wild/ferrol..


PS MDV did I know your mum's cat was also called Gary?!  How cool!

Not sure.  Her cat is named after the character on Spongebob, and he's huge and black and white.

um - I think she stole my Gary (also patially named after the snail) - although maybe my Gary is just classed as fat and not really huge.


I live on a very busy street so I don't let my cat out. My last cat snuck out and got hit by a car. 
I bought a cat leash and take her on walks sometimes.....people think I'm crazy! :D



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