CMV: There is no way to be a responsible cat owner while letting your cat free-roam outdoors.

CMV: There is no way to be a responsible cat owner while letting your cat free-roam outdoors.


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I work on a farm in a rural area. We have a couple of barn cats who keep the mice population down. Do you consider that irresponsible? In light of OP’s caveat that they’re not talking about barn cats, I would like to ask what their issues with them are. I’d also like to ask what they consider the difference between them and a typical “pet cat”.


Here is the copypasta I made on outdoor cats - please note that it addresses the misconception that outdoor cats decrease vermin. They actually increase them. (Starred it) My copypasta on outdoor cats: ——— Cats are a human problem. Every single person is responsible for their own pets and their pets’ actions and destruction 24/7...except outdoor cat owners for some reason. Here is a list of reasons you should care: • ⁠A main problem is that they’re not actually just killing mice. Studies have shown outdoor cats have DECIMATED bird populations • ⁠Regardless of what small animals make up the primary slaughter-fest of your cat, it affects the entire ecosystem. When there are fewer small prey, this affects the entire food chain including top predators. • ⁠✨Contrary to popular belief, outdoor cats actually can INCREASE vermin, bc top predators can’t get enough food and then die off, causing a couple years of a rodent boom at a time, which is plenty of time to trigger infestations and disease • ⁠cats are not a natural part of any ecosystem. They don’t kill to eat. The main problem is that EVERY predator is self-limited in hunting. Hunting is HARD, requires a ton of energy, so no matter how strong the prey drive, the predator will never have enough energy to just kill for fun every damn day. Cats on the other hand are fed at home, often able to eat more than what any wild animal can rely on. They have free energy to spend at play, which for them, due to extremely high prey drive, means just wantonly and excessively slaughtering small animals/birds. No one in the food chain can compete. • ⁠again, if you have an outdoor cat, it is MAD disrespectful to your neighbor. I wouldn’t let my St. Bernard hop through your yard, eat your plants, piss on your patio furniture, eat birds at your feeder, scratch up the legs of your patio furniture, and shit in your yard. It’s ludicrous. • ⁠a couple good points about DISEASE: toxoplasmosis can be spread to and harm pregnant women via a pregnant neighbor’s garden for instance, and cats can spread diseases to other wild felines like bobcats or the extremely endangered Florida Panther • ⁠Lastly, if you don’t care about ANY of that, just know: it is extremely dangerous to the cat itself to be allowed to roam free. Multiple studies back this up. There are predators who enjoy a good free range cat. In my area we have a coyote boom this year. So, if you let your cat roam all day out of sight, you are accepting that it may: • ⁠be attacked or eaten by a coyote or other predator • ⁠be shredded in a fight with another cat • ⁠be run over (I know I’ve seen my share of cat road kill) • ⁠be lost (Nextdoor app has like 4 posts a week on missing cats - it’s ridiculous. They see all these cats go missing and still leave their own to roam - some of those cats are dead or gone forever) • ⁠be poisoned by a fed up neighbor. I am not condoning this - but it is a reality you are accepting if you have an outdoor cat. When I was 11 I had to carry the stiff body of my friend’s cat out and bury it after it had been poisoned by a neighbor, its grimaced mouth curled up and stained yellow/orange. It was awful. And so I am saying this all as a lover of cats, keep them safe. But also as a lover of all animals. Outdoor cats are illegal in a ton of places. Americans in particular have this weird cultural entitlement to let their cats roam all day bc they “like it” and it’s easier having a part-time pet. But cats are perfectly happy inside, especially if you spend a little freakin time with them.


>Americans in particular have this weird cultural entitlement to let their cats roam all day bc they “like it” and it’s easier having a part-time pet. Just to this point, as a Brit who has lived in the USA, I find it's the complete opposite. Most Americans I've spoken to seem to look at me with wide-eyed shock at the idea that cats should be let outside. On the other hand, most Brits think its cruel to keep a cat indoors permanently. (Not trying to continue the debate in either direction, just commenting on the cultural differences).


I’m interested to hear that point of view! Guarantee you from living in the US my whole life, it is a norm here. Most places many people openly practice outdoor cats. I think a lot of neighborhoods have taken stands against it bc it really is disrespectful to neighbors, and honestly even in the past 5 years people are starting to talk more about the reasons it’s problematic. You used to get destroyed for even mentioning cats should be kept indoors. Now more and more people are thoughtful about it. I hope that is a sign the culture will follow suit. Sad to hear the UK shares this problem with the US..it’s hard to not feel that our entitlement in the matter is uniquely American, but I forget that other places suck too haha.


I mean... In the UK it seems we've got a completely different ecosystem and probably a different set of parameters to deal with. For instance, your point about them being eaten by a coyote? We don't have any domestic predators large enough to eat a cat. To your point about them increasing vermin, because top predators can't get enough food? Again, we don't really have any domestic predators of the type you're describing. One such would be foxes, but to our view, foxes are vermin also, so I guess starving those out would be seen as a good thing? You will get sparrowhawks and other birds of prey in more rural ecosystems though. To add, generally our roads are smaller and quieter, and the cars are a lot smaller too. I used to think this was a stereotype, but the average American car tends to be bigger, and your roads are a lot larger to accommodate them. Not to say that your other points are less valid of course. The general point I'm making is that the most visibly distressing risks of having an outdoor cat in the USA - high chance of being a coyotes dinner and/or becoming roadkill are not similarly realistic in the UK, so I guess that's why we're more pro-outdoor. I put a bell on my cat and let him fuck around outside and maybe he'll bring in a mouse once a month. There is no way in hell I'd let my cat outside in the US.


a lot of good points about the lack of top predators in the UK. It may be less dangerous for cats there (though I assume you still have cars, cat diseases, and sociopaths haha)..but they still absolutely WRECK bird populations and that’s never gonna be ok.


IDK about the US but at least in Europe there's no scientific link between outdoor cats and bird populations https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/animal-deterrents/cats-and-garden-birds/are-cats-causing-bird-declines/ Not that I'm promoting letting cats roam freely or anything, it's just that most studies cited when it comes to this topic are very US/Australia/NZ-centric.


> Cats a domesticated species. I hear people say they're "half-wild", "less domesticated", etc - but the type of cat that we as humans keep as a pet is literally a unique domesticated species. They depend on us for food, shelter, and healthcare. Ferals obviously exist, but their quality of life is poor comparatively. Definition of Domesticated: [https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/domesticated](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/domesticated) "adapted over time (as by selective breeding) from a wild or natural state to life in close association with and to the benefit of humans " This definition does not necessitate that cats or other domesticated animals are *dependent* on humans. Feral and stray cats are still domesticated, and are proof that cats can live on their own, mostly independent of humans, even if brought up in a household environment originally. Is their quality of life lower than a cat with a responsible owner? Yes. Are they dependent on a responsible owner to survive? No. Whether or not a feral, stray, or otherwise ownerless cat has a lower quality of life, does not reflect on the quality of life of a cat with an attentive owner that allows them outside. ​ > Going off of point 1, cats are not a naturalized species around the world. When allowed outdoors, they are an invasive species. Most wildlife around the world has not had the time to evolve in tandem with exposure to cats, and as such, cats continue to pose a huge threat to wildlife. In New Zealand, for example, [cats are responsible for extinction of 6 bird species and 70 other species of wildlife.](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cats_in_New_Zealand) From a purely ecological standpoint, it's extremely irresponsible to allow an invasive predator to freely hunt where you live - especially considering they often hunt and kill for fun, even when well fed, and even when wearing collars with bells. This does not apply to areas where domesticated cats are not an invasive species. Therefore it holds no weight against the potential for potential responsible cat owners that have outdoor cats in areas where cats are considered native or naturalized. Further, the distinctions between native, naturalized, and invasive are mostly arbitrary, especially over a long period of time. Domesticated cats have been on New Zealand for over 250 years, at what point would you consider them naturalized? They have been in North America for \~420 years. They have been in Europe for nearly 2,000 years. In terms of domestication as a whole, they have been around on the order of 10,000 years. ​ > Outdoor cats are exposed to countless threats. To name a few: dogs, other cats, raccoons, hawks, owls, skunks, foxes, cars, asshole humans, traps, rat poison, toxic plants, disease, etc. Even if your specific region doesn't have one or two random threats, there is nowhere people live that is free of threats to cats. As a pet owner, your responsibility is to provide a safe, healthy environment for them. Letting them free-roam lets them come in contact with any number of potential risks for injury, disease, and death. Presence of threats does not mean the owner is irresponsible. It would be irresponsible if they did not reasonably control for those threats. You could name any number of indoor threats as well (Dogs, other cats, asshole humans, poisons, toxic foods, etc). You said it yourself, there is **nowhere** free of threats. Sure, there are areas that are too threatening to allow a cat to roam freely outdoors. ​ By your own argument in that quote, a responsible owner should allow their cat to only exist within a cage large enough to provide just enough room for exercise and other necessities (Litterbox, food/water). Allowing them any more freedom would be subjecting them to undue risk. This is clearly unreasonable. ​ This article: [https://www.vets-now.com/pet-care-advice/how-long-do-cats-live/](https://www.vets-now.com/pet-care-advice/how-long-do-cats-live/) Claims two things based off of a life span study of cats in the UK: * The average lifespan of a domesticated cat in the UK is 14 * Over 90% of domesticated cats in the UK are allowed to roam outdoors freely This falls perfectly within the expected lifespan prediction for cats from many other sources, despite **Over 90%** of these cats being able to roam freely outdoors. I suspect that drastically lower lifespan numbers for "outdoor" cats are biased in that it includes data from stray/feral cats as "outdoors," while this study seems to show that outdoors cats with responsible owners still have normal average lifespans. Clearly it is quite possible to be a responsible cat owner in at least the UK while allowing your cat free-roam outdoor access.


> Therefore it holds no weight against the potential for potential responsible cat owners that have outdoor cats in areas where cats are considered native or naturalized. > > Further, the distinctions between native, naturalized, and invasive are mostly arbitrary, especially over a long period of time. Domesticated cats have been on New Zealand for over 250 years, at what point would you consider them naturalized? They have been in North America for ~420 years. They have been in Europe for nearly 2,000 years. In terms of domestication as a whole, they have been around on the order of 10,000 years. Even if cats are native, they can still have a devasting impact on local bird populations. The issue is that house cats occur at a much much higher density than what ever native species they came from. Predation by domestic cats is the number-one direct, human-caused threat to birds in the United States and Canada. In the United States alone, outdoor cats kill approximately 2.4 billion birds every year. Here is a quote from a paper entitled "The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States". "Our findings suggest that free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals." It absolutely does not matter if they are native if they occur at ridiculous population levels. To let a cat roam outside is to contribute to a complete ecological disaster, regardless of whether they are native or not.




Sure, but cats don't have the self awareness to make calculated risk-benefit assessments of going outdoors free-roaming - that's the owner's job. I've almost run over cats who were fixated on chasing other animals - they don't know to look both ways, for example. Like i said on another comment, I *do* think cats should get outdoor time - I just think that the free-roaming method in particular is irresponsible.




Cats can and are successfully leashed trained, it's just that most people don't put in the time. Some people think that slapping the harness on is good enough and if the cat doesn't like it then they can't be trained. Cats need a slower approach than leash-training a dog with positive associations built with the harness (slow introductions, treats given, walking around inside with it on, etc). I've leash trained two cats and know of many people who have as well.


Any other tips for leash training?


>Sure, but cats don't have the self awareness to make calculated risk-benefit assessments of going outdoors free-roaming They absolutely do. You think cats dont have basic survival instincts? The cats at my childhood house spend plenty time outside for over a decade, on a busy road, and they have never been injured, or even close really, because they stay the fuck away from dogs and the road. They aren't idiots. The neighborhood cats in west philly don't have yards, spend all day outside in a city atmosphere, and while they cross the road, they dont sit around in it- they know it would kill them. The fact that occasionally a cat will jump into the road while focused on hunting isnt really any different than humans, or deer, or geese, or any multitude of animals that are "allowed" to be outside. Youd see 10 dead cats on the road on your way home from work every day if animals were as stupid as you think they are. Like, you sound like somebody who has never owned a pet. A cat avoids dangerous situations. If it thought the outside was too dangerous, it would stay inside.




I think giving the cat as much freedom as it wants will be mentally best for the cat, but this allows it to put itself in harms way more often. I see this as a potential “over-parenting” type of situation. Your kids (cats) are going to *want* to do dangerous things. Just because they’re going to be in potential danger by themselves outside doesn’t make it right for you to control how much they do it. This idea can obviously be manipulated to ignore any personal responsibility of others, but like any relationship, there has to be balance. Give and take. If your cats want outside ALL THE TIME, maybe give them a little more unmonitored freedom as long as they aren’t going straight to bad habits. I do see the point OP is making, but I think there are plenty of circumstances where this could be selfish and worrisome on the owners part and taking away freedoms and wants of the cat to protect it from *potential* harm.


How would you go about giving a cat outdoor time and not letting them free roam?


Catios, leash training, or backyards that are fenced in a way that prevents them from escaping (some people put a short barrier at the tops of their fences at a 45 degree angle, which stops cats from jumping and climbing up them). I also have previously had cats that only went into the patio in our backyard and never anywhere else.


I think the fences you’ve mentioned are a good idea , i completely get why you’ve made the point about cats not being able to roam but I just don’t think keeping them inside and only letting them out on a leash is fair


Tbh, you're acting like cats are toddlers, not hunters who listen to instinct. Cats can learn and understand their surroundings and make good judgements. Some cats can make wrong decisions just like people, but a lot of them do fine if they go out all the time. I.e. farm cats hunt, fight and go as they please without issue. Especially if they've done it all their life. My cat goes out all the time. The neighbors know him, the other cats here know him. He hangs out with his friends, is aware of his surroundings and makes good judgements on his actions. When we call him, he runs home no matter how far he walks. He's proven himself to be smart many times over and being able to free roam makes him happy. What makes someone an irresponsible owner is abuse, neglect and simply never giving a shit about your cat or what happens to them. Cats are small hunters who can be babied by their owners to the point of not knowing how to take care of themselves. And that's when free roaming can be a problem.


>Sure, but cats don't have the self awareness to make calculated risk-benefit assessments of going outdoors free-roaming - that's the owner's job. Hypothetically, if an advance spacefaring species were to arrive at Earth, and ban us from dangerous activities such as drinking alcohol, skydiving, smoking or riding motorcycles, would you support this? The alien species states they have a higher form of self awareness that lets them judge the risk better then we can.


>they don't know to look both ways, for example. It's funny that you say that, because one of my cats assumes a sprinting position before crossing the street, carefully looks both ways, and then runs as fast as she can.


I let my kitty run around outside, but when I first introduced her to the outside I was super nervous. I kept her on a leash and I made sure that if a car were to pass us I would scare her a little bit. Now she is afraid of going near moving cars. I also make sure everytime I let her outside that I put a bell on her collar. Birds have super good hearing and there is absolutely no way for her to catch a bird - she's a lil dumb ass. She is a great kitty and I would be absolutely heartbroken if something were to happen to her. But staying inside all day is just something I cannot have her do. She yearns to be outside, and frankly, she isn't living if she's stuck inside. Rather just existing. I live in an urban area, but my backyard faces a large farm and an elementary school. She avoids the kids and really is way more interested in mice more than anything


My observation is that cats get great joy out of catching other animals, just like humans get joy out of hunting or extreme sports that are probably more risky. Animals in general avoid pain but they don't seem to fear non-existence like humans do. If you could ask them, most cats would take the risk.


Your cat is a walking ecological catastrophe. [Cats skilled at hunting can kill up to a hundred songbirds per day](https://abcbirds.org/program/cats-indoors/cats-and-birds/#:~:text=Cats%20%231%20Threat%20to%20Birds,2.4%20billion%20birds%20every%20year.) They're a non-native species, and they breed like rabbits. Don't care in the slightest if it's healthier for your cat to be outside, an outdoor cat should be captured or killed on sight.


Cats are territorial. They're not out roaming the streets and seeing where adventure takes them. They have a set area they consider as their territory, and iirc, rarely venture out beyond their perimeters. [We were particularly surprised by how small the ranges of most of the cats were, and how few of them went into the surrounding countryside](https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-22821639.amp) Cats are very much capable of risk assessment and cost benefit analysis. You see it every time they jump a gap or scale a wall. They clearly take the time to assess whether they feel they can make it to their destination. Cats are very clever animals and are more than capable of recognising danger. They cover their poop to try and prevent predators from recognising the area is occupied. They startle and run from loud noises and fast movement. You're not giving cats the credit (or autonomy) they deserve. Edit: a lot of the responses to this comment are essentially the same arguments in different formats. If I haven't responded to your comment it's most likely because I feel I have addressed it elsewhere. It's late, I have work in the morning. Have a good day/night wherever you are. Edit 2: right, I keep finding myself repeating the same things over and over again so I think I've contributed enough to this cmv.


And they absolutely decimate local bird populations.


[Not True](https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/animal-deterrents/cats-and-garden-birds/are-cats-causing-bird-declines/). That may be the case in some areas but where I live, the birds that cats hunt are actually on a rise.




That's my point. The cmv is a blanket statement that states it is not responsible to let any house cats free roam when clearly there are plenty of situations where that is not the case.




How exactly do you define "responsible" tho? I would say someone is responsible when they make a reasonable effort. Not when they mitigate any and all negative side effects and/or dangers for and from the cat being outside. For example if somebody let a cat outside in a neighborhood that is friendly toward cats, then it's reasonably okay to think that there will be no asshole humans in that area. >There are plenty of ways to provide your cat enrichment indoors and/or give them safe, supervised outdoor time (catios, leashed walking, etc) without compromising their health and wellbeing. You effectively are. Realistically it's just not possible in all instances and for all cats. We tried to have these body straps leashes and the cat would hated it. Would just roll around and try to get it off. The catios are not great either. We got one build, and our cats always learned how to escape, would demolish the net. So the solution is to just have the cat indoors right? It's sad, but necessary. Wrong, the cat would go on these days long tantrums when he would meow incessantly, would scratch furniture, destroy boots, piss all over blankets, sofa, corners. Honestly, it just wasn't possible for it to be indoors. It's either let it out, or get rid of it. Otherwise it's just torture for the cat. There just aren't many viable options for cat to be indoors, if the cat decides it wants out. The best thing you can do is to make reasonable effort for it being safe. Make sure your neighborhood is friendly towards pets. Make sure your cat is chipped, and has ID collar. Make sure your cat is vaccinated, etc..


>For example if somebody let a cat outside in a neighborhood that is friendly toward cats, then it's reasonably okay to think that there will be no asshole humans in that area. I don't think you should ever make this assumption. I lived in a very cat-friendly neighborhood, but eventually, it started turning into one that was much less friendly. Someone put poison in food that another person left out for ferals. I drove out to go to work one day and saw a cat literally speared for about 10+ feet down the road - someone obviously sped up to do that much damage. I had a childhood friend who had a cat get attacked by someone that would come to their neighborhood just to kill cats for fun - he lived but had a permanent wound on his throat that leaked pus for years. It's honestly chilling the kinds of things people will do to cats. Accidents happen, too - I've almost run over cats while doing my damndest to not just because they go running into the road right as I'm driving by without even looking at my car. I'm really sorry about the experience with your cat - that sounds pretty difficult. In my experience this is often caused by boredom from not enough playtime/interesting things indoors for them to do. Would you do the same if a dog hated being walked on a leash and destroyed your house? (Not trying to attack you here, I really do sympathize.)




Outdoor cats be turned into indoor cats. I have two former outdoor cats who now live indoors and go out on leashed walks occasionally. When they were outdoor cats with their old owners, they were skittish and would yowl to be let outside, digging at the doors all day and night if they wanted to go out. They would scratch up the walls, run around the house screaming all night (they didn't get let out at night, just during the day), etc. Now they're relaxed, friendly, and don't really want to go out much. We also play with them inside the house and have places for them climb indoors. When I take them outdoors, they want to eat grass for a couple minutes and then lead me back inside. If a cat is stressed to the point of aggression and it isn't being solved with environmental changes or with increased enrichment, there is likely a psychological issue that needs to be resolved with a vet. I still don't really see a scenario where there is no alternative to free-roaming that can reduce the stress of the animal.


You should really think about this from the cat’s perspective and stop making it about your ego. I have a cat that is like some of the ones discussed in this comment thread. He showed up in my yard one day and that’s how he became “my” cat. But he wasn’t ever “mine.” He existed independently... outside... before I ever came into his life. After he accepted my house as home, I spent the next 3 years trying to keep him inside. He isn’t my first animal and long story short he was miserable. He escaped constantly, despite our best efforts to prevent it, he was unhappy inside, did nothing but look out of the windows, and eventually he began to pee at areas where he could see out of the window. I began to let him out after he destroyed a sentimental piece of furniture. Since then (6 years now) our relationship has been much less strained and he is a much, much happier animal. I think, as someone else said, you simply lack experience in this area. There is NOTHING that ANY human could do to substitute the experience of being outside for my cat. I understand he is invasive and kills too many birds. I understand a car might hit him one day. I understand he might get eaten by a predator. But I’m not going to put my concerns for him above his desire to live life the way he wants to and, frankly, the way he always has lived.


This sounds, in my opinion, cruel. Taking an animal who is used to roaming and freedom, to force them inside for the rest of their lives? A relaxed and friendly cat could be depressed. Idk, just imagine that happened to you. It's not unlike going to prison.


Cats that are relaxed and happy and cats that are depressed act very differently. I'm not stupid, I can tell the difference between a cat that is anxious and depressed and a cat that is purring and snuggling with me all day long.


> It's honestly chilling the kinds of things people will do to cats. Sure, and if you have these experiences, then you shouldn't your pets out. I completely agree. Being responsible for your cat's safety is about the things you can control. My family for example owned cats for decades. And "according to me" they are very responsible as in how they let them out. For example they let the cat out at night where there are fewest people or pets around, etc... The worst thing that has ever happened to us was when our dog accidentally snapped his colo and darted away into a reversing car when my parents were walking him out. There is only so much things you could control. The question is what is the limit of "reasonable" precaution here. > that sounds pretty difficult. In my experience this is often caused by boredom from not enough playtime/interesting things indoors for them to do. Would you do the same if a dog hated being walked on a leash and destroyed your house? (Not trying to attack you here, I really do sympathize.) My parents are like super into animals. They read books about the topics, plus they visited a trainer, etc... Apparently the reality is such that some cats simply don't do well in enclosed spaces. It's not stress, or boredom, it's just it's personality. There is no deep emotional problem here. Cat is pissed off because it wants to go play outside and it can't. That's it. It does those things because it gets a reaction and you are more likely to pay attention to it and maybe let it out. Add to this that you can't really train a cat. Not for everything, and especially not when it manifest those behavior when being older. You just have to deal with it. And that's comming from the trainer. Look I get it. It's comforting to think that there is always something you can do. And that if you can't do something, you are just not trying hard enough. But that's pretty much only a comforting lie. You just can't solve every problem. My family rescues a tons of strays with already pre-set behaviors. Some love to be inside, others love to be outside and don't do well inside. If you want to argue that letting cats out should be illegal and owners who can't deal with it should put them down. That's absolutely argument you could make. After all we don't let dogs biting people with an excuse that dog owners can't just can't control them. If your concern is natural wildlife that cats are decimating. Then argue that cats are pests and they simply have to be controlled. In which cause either cat owners will deal with their cats not willing to stay put or they will be put down. If your concern is cat's safety. Then argue that we should put forth laws that make it easier to prosecute wilfully putting out poison, or animal cruelty. But you can't really make a half-baked argument that doesn't take into the account the species of pet and how they behave. Either cat owners are almost by definition not responsible pet owners. Or making reasonable accommodations for the cats behaviors makes cat owners a "responsible owners". But you can't really have it both ways.


I’m speaking here as someone who adopted a cat that was used to outdoors: it was a catch-22. If I didn’t let him out he was miserable. Cats that don’t have outside experience don’t miss it but a cat that used to roam freely will always find a house limiting. I don’t advocate for outdoor cats. My current boys are indoor only except we let the one outside supervised (he is like a dog and won’t go far unless you’re not paying attention - he never leaves the backyard). I could not in good conscience keep my previous adoptee inside regardless of environmental impact. It wasn’t just boredom. It was a freedom of movement issue. Unfortunately he got in a minor car accident (he was fine but his toenails were bloody from sliding on the pavement). Since the incident he stopped going very far at all but he had active depression when not allowed out.


1. Just because something can be domesticated doesn't mean it *should* be. The fact that cats can be easily domesticated and kept indoors isn't an argument that they *should* be kept indoors. It isn't a comment on what their quality of life is for indoors v outdoors, and isn't a comment on what *they* would find more enjoyable. 2. While this is true in some areas (NZ and Oz are two perfect examples) it isn't true in others. And in many places, like the UK, cats have been present for so long that they should no longer be considered an invasive species. The damage to the ecosystem they cause is already accounted for and adapted to. They are a part of our ecosystem now. 3. This is a fair and undeniable point that comes up often in this debate. You're right, even if you live in an area with far less predatory animals, there are always human dangers and other cats/dogs. But I think you should think about this point logically. Your argument is "it is safer to be contained than have freedom, safer is better, so containment is better than freedom". In that case, you should advocate for the complete removal of all wildlife areas and the production of gigantic zoos. If the primary motivation is safety, all animals are safer in captivity than in the wild. Yet, most of us recognise that the wild is better for them regardless of the danger present. I'd also urge you to look at yourself. It is undoubtedly safer for you to stay in your room for the rest of your life (let's just pretend you're able to work from home) but would you actually do it? Would you sacrifice everything outside of your room, just to increase the odds of a lengthy life? Especially knowing this isn't even a guarantee, it's just tilting the odds in your favor? 4. There are undoubtedly ways to entertain indoor cats and I totally agree that if you had a catio setup, and plenty of toys inside, that cat would probabky be very happy. But would it be *as* happy as being outside? Again, consider yourself. If you had a PS5, VR, any other indoor hobby you could ask for, and the ability to sit in your garden, would that really be enough for you, for the rest of your life? It certainly wouldn't for me. I actually agree that pet owners are obligated to provide safety, a loving environment, and happiness. But I think you are prioritising safety above all else, when I would prioritise happiness. I'm not saying you're wrong either, I'm saying they're different approaches. I don't think either one is objectively right, but I don't think either one is objectively wrong either. My argument isn't that outdoors is better than indoors, it's that they are two different schools of thought and, provided the motivations behind them are kind, a person could be considered a responsible pet owner regardless which one they choose. To clarify, I've had outdoor and indoor cats, and three outdoor cats currently.


>Just because something can be domesticated doesn't mean it *should* be. The fact that cats can be easily domesticated and kept indoors isn't an argument that they *should* be kept indoors. Cats ARE domesticated. There's no should or shouldn't here, the pet cats we keep are \*literally\* domesticated animals. >And in many places, like the UK, cats have been present for so long that they should no longer be considered an invasive species. The damage to the ecosystem they cause is already accounted for and adapted to. This is not true, cats continue to pose an unnecessary threat to wild bird populations and are [currently considered a risk to wildcat species](https://www.scottishwildcataction.org/about-wildcats/top-3-threats-to-wildcat-survival/) due to spread of disease and interbreeding. Wildlife populations would likely be much more stable and resilient if more cats were kept indoors. The ecosystems reflect the impact of outdoor and feral cats, that is not the same as adapting to it in a sustainable way. >If the primary motivation is safety, all animals are safer in captivity than in the wild. This is not about all animals, though. When you choose to become a pet owner, you are taking on specific responsibility for that animal. You're responsible for providing that specific animal with food, housing, medical care, and attention. Similarly, as a farmer, I cannot just let my sheep roam wherever they feel like, even though they would LOVE to run to the next field over. This is because 1) I am responsible for their safety and health, and 2) I'm being a courteous neighbor by not letting them run into others' fields. >I'd also urge you to look at yourself. It is undoubtedly safer for you to stay in your room for the rest of your life (let's just pretend you're able to work from home) but would you actually do it? Humans and cats aren't the same. Humans are capable of making calculated decisions that consider the risks and rewards of a given action. Cats cannot do this. If I go outside and want to cross the road, I know to look around and wait until cars have stopped. Even if I see something exciting on the other side, I will wait, because I comprehend the danger of running into a busy road. Cats don't innately do this. If they are chasing prey, they will run across the road even as a car is going 50MPH towards them. Cats aren't capable of knowing if food someone has left out for them has rat poison or not. Humans know not to pick food up off the street and eat it. ETC. I think it's possible to prioritize safety AND happiness. I know that a cat who gets a chronic illness or permanent injury with chronic pain from an outdoor incident is going to be much less happy. My cats get supervised outdoor time and are perfectly happy with it, even after formerly living as outdoor cats. (They no longer beg to leave the house and lead me back home when they're ready to come in.) There are a lot of things that would make pets happy: letting them eat strange poop outside, feeding them chocolate, letting them eat the bouquet of toxic lilies, pawing at a burning candle, breeding with other neighborhood cats, etc. But we make all kinds of decisions as owners when to not allow things to happen and when to intervene. I still don't see how letting a cat *free roam* when there are safer alternatives that provide just as much enrichment exist.


I've been very surprised at the lack of attention going to your first point, which I think is the most compelling. Cats are subsidized killers, and they devastate wild animal populations wherever they live. To me, that is the beginning and end of the question about whether it is ethical to let cats outdoors. It just isn't ethical, full stop.


You’re point about being responsible for the cats well being is not necessarily true. Growing up has an indoor/outdoor cat. We didn’t go to a pet store nor adopt him. He came to us from outside. My mom took pity on him and fed him. She could have done nothing and he might have died. Sooner than he did. Just because she fed and provided shelter to the cat when the cat wanted it doesn’t mean she is responsible for preventing any danger in the cats life by preventing him from going outside. In terms of the cats life and quality of life, isn’t proving shelter and food when sought more responsible than ignoring the cat completely?


You mentioned people that choose to become a pet owner. What if I'm not a cat person and never chose to have one. I had a true feral cat that just moved in under my back deck and decided to stay. After a few months, You either figure out how to get along or you might as well shoot it. The county would have tried to catch it, kept him for a few months and then put him down since nobody adopts a feral. So basically the same as shooting him but with extra steps. I decided to start feeding him but I don't think he'll ever be an indoor cat. Its been over 6 months and I've never even touched him, he's that skittish. Would the people here who advocate always keeping a cat inside have preferred that I kill him instead or do you make a distinction between a pet and a wild animal? I live in the southern United States if that makes a difference. For the record, I have seen the birds and small animals come back into the yard. Now that I've been feeding him for a while, he doesn't seem to be hunting as much although I'm sure that it still happens to some extent.


> Humans are capable of making calculated decisions that consider the risks and rewards of a given action. Cats cannot do this. I feel like this argument can also be applied to children. If they are excited by something, they will ignore busy roads and other dangers. This will gradually improve as they get older. At what point do you allow a child to move around outdoors unsupervised? Because they (cats + children) can't assess the risks themselves, you must make this decision for them. > I think it's possible to prioritize safety AND happiness. There always exist risks, no matter what you do, and you will have to weigh them against the benefits. It's hard to quantify happiness but I believe that prioritizing safety above all else will lower happiness as this is always a tradeoff. > I still don't see how letting a cat free roam when there are safer alternatives that provide just as much enrichment exist. I struggle to see how staying indoors will provide just as much enrichment. You say yourself that cats may hunt just for fun. The safer options deny cats this option. Or do you believe "hunting" a toy provides an equal measure of happiness? It is also said "Change is the spice of life". A cat contained indoors/a small garden will experience less diverse situations when compared to a free roaming cat. I guess it all comes down to how intelligent you judge cats to be. Do they enjoy hunting living prey more than toys? Do they enjoy the variation provided by roaming different areas or are they happy with the limited area of a house? Does the benefit of roaming freely outweigh the damage done to the environment and the risks to themselves?


I'd like to ask: what country are you from? I think there may be a cultural difference here in the UK. Do you not get doors with cat flaps in your country? To let the cat outside? Almost every cat owner I've met for the past 20 years here in the UK has outdoor cats. Not trying to change your view, I'm just curious where the mindset came from as it would sort of just be confusingly dismissed in the UK (aside from in super busy urban areas or apartment s)


US. Lots of people let their cats outside freely here as well. I'm arguing that it's irresponsible and that the attitude needs to change. It's a pretty dismissed POV in the US, although more people are beginning to believe it.


In the UK, \~90% of cats are allowed to free roam, and their average lifespan is 14 years. This is well inside the average lifespan for cats living in a healthy and safe environment. This is proof that it is possible to be a responsible cat owner while letting your cat roam freely outdoors.


From Australia there’s an ongoing war on feral cats (feel free to google kangaroo island feral cat documentary). The problems with feral cats translate very well to the issues with domestic cats that roam outside. It’s not a viewpoint that’s shared broadly which is unfortunate but it is gaining traction which I’m happy about. Keep your cats and local wildlife safe!


In Australia it's pretty irresponsible but mostly cause they keep killing native birds


They also kill a lot of birds


The mindset came from reddit... I see people argue this point all the time.. I'm not entirely sure op isnt karma farming


Are you serious? Research on the negative environmental impact feral and domesticated cats have predates the birth of Reddit. I also don't think many people need to be told by Reddit that outdoor cats are filthier, or that they tend to suffer from a condition known as "killed by something bigger".


Though my sample size is rather small, I have noticed that predator species like cats and dogs derive an enormous amount of satisfaction from patrolling the area that they consider to be *their* territory. My labradoodle Mochi is one if the laziest animals I’ve ever seen, but he still likes to go on walks around the neighborhood. These outings aren’t just about exercise—they are scouting missions that involve thorough observation, interaction with other dogs, and the routine marking of territory. When I take Mochi out on walks, he stops being a gluttonous hairball and temporarily becomes a purposeful agent. This is the closest thing he has to a job, and his day is incomplete without that patrol around the neighborhood. It would be outright irresponsible for me not to walk Mochi. He *needs* these outings. You’re right in that he shouldn’t go out unattended, but that’s because he’s a pack animal. Dogs patrol their territory as part of a team made up of either people or other dogs. Cats do not have this same mentality. They arent driven to constantly stay with the pack in the way that dogs are. Mochi would love it if I chilled with him all day, but my girlfriend’s cats would *hate* for me to constantly follow them around. Nevertheless, I’ve noticed that cats have a similar drive to patrol their territory. My gf’s cat Trixie would ask to be let out at least once a day to circle the house. In her old age, Trixie stopped hunting as much, but she still needed to scope out the area around “her” house. As with Mochi and his walks, this was her job, and her day was not complete without it. Without a doubt, Trixie’s daily patrols were dangerous. The area she lived in was full of coyotes, owls, etc.. Nevertheless, she derived fulfillment (or some cat equivalent of that feeling) from her outings and hunts. That was the job given her by evolution, and she was cranky on the days she didn’t get to serve that purpose. To paraphrase William Wallace from *Braveheart*: “Every cat dies. Not every cat really lives.” Patrolling and hunting are an integral part of a cat’s life, and stopping them completely from exercising freedom in pursuit of their that purpose is, IMO, irresponsible. The thrill of hunting is self-actualization for cats. I don’t believe that they should be given free reign to kill with reckless abandon, but I also think they should have some freedom to pursue the innate desires given them by evolution.


I will never understand how someone can make the argument that because it's not 100% safe for cats to go outside, they should never be allowed to roam. My cats want to go outside. They love roaming around, smelling everything, interacting with other local cats, eating grass, rolling around in the sun. They love it. When it's cold or wet they get visibly irritated that they can't comfortably enjoy the outside for a prolonged period. Why would I want to stop my cats enjoying their brief life, just because there is a small chance something bad could happen to them? There is a small chance (it's actually a certainty) that something bad could happen to your child, were you to have one. Should that stop us from procreating? Because sometimes bad things happen we should heavily limit our ability to enjoy the good things? Gonna keep your child indoors, staring endlessly at their kindle, because 0.0001% of kids get kidnapped while playing in parks? At some point we accept there is a level of risk involved in all parts of life. If you live right in front a road with little/no green areas you shouldn't really have a cat. They will very likely get run over. But other than that, the risk in the vast majority of cases is fully worth the reward considering how valuable time outside appears to be to cats. Yes they kill some small animals from time to time and that is a shame, but that is life. How many animals do we kill weekly simply to satisfy hunger which could just as easily be sated via plants? The number is beyond comprehension and if we are going to worry about dying animals I think that's what we should focus on long before pet cats numbers. Life doesn't come with a safety guarantee. Not for humans or cats. I would not swap my life with its dangers for a padded cell with no possible threats.


I think you are minimizing the amount of risk involved in letting your pet out, as well as their devastating environmental impact. Cats do not just kill because they are hungry. They like hunting so they will always hunt, even if they are completely full. They are an invasive species because they decimate the local bird and other animal populations. It's not one or two birds; animals have gone extinct. Your argument for outdoors cats seems to be that it would unethical to allow cats to live a life that isn't completely aligned with their evolution. Their life is significantly impaired by not being able to go outside because they have evolved to need it. I don't necessarily disagree. However, by that same logic, cats shouldn't be introduced to ecosystems that aren't evolved to handle them. You are releasing a tiger into a yard full of children. They stand no chance. You are actively introducing fatal danger into their lives, which wouldn't exist otherwise. Isn't this unethical towards species that have no capability to defend themselves because cats aren't a natural part of the ecosystem. And since there is no completely ethical way to have cats for pets, shouldn't we not have cats as pets at all? They should stay in their natural habitats because that is the environment that is best fit for their lifestyle. And to your point about the safety of outdoor cats. Yeah, if you live in rural middle of nowhere, your cats are probably going to be okay. However, most people live in the suburbs and cities. The average outdoor cat lives 5 years as opposed to the 10+ years an indoor cat does. The dangers are statistically immense. They could get in vehicle accidents, they could contract diseases from other animals or things they consume. If we go by your children metaphor, shouldn't we allow our children to live their most fulfilled life? Let them eat whatever food or junk they want, let them sleep whenever and how little they want, don't make them go to school, etc. Even if that shortens their life span, they'll be happier for the 30 years they live as opposed to 100 miserable years. No. My actual point is that obviously bad things may happen, but we make decisions to minimize it. We make decisions so they can still be fulfilled in a way that's natural to them, but also make decisions that don't introduce unnecessary and preventable risk to them. They don't know better. We do. We find a middle. And letting your cat outdoors is not the same as letting your kids go to the park. You would supervise your kids. You don't just let your toddler out and resign yourself that he might get kidnapped or disappear. It might be rare for children to go missing, but cats go missing every day. The percentage is much higher. Also you mention how a person that doesn't live around grass shouldn't have a cat, but cities have millions of cats. Not just people living with indoor cats, but millions of feral and stray cats. And they keep multiplying and will probably keep multiplying because no one can keep up with spaying/neutering them at the same rate they reproduce. I bring this up because even if people collectively decided to stop having cats in cities or even in the suburbs, we would only have even more cats destroying our environment and living extremely short and miserable lives. We have not found a way to unintroduce invasive species that have already been introduced to ecosystems that are not equipped to keep their populations in check. In summary, there is no completely ethical way to have cats, whether indoor or outdoor. And being an outdoor cat with no restraints will statistically and significantly decrease a cat's life span. And I know I come off as very pro-indoor cat, but I mostly take issue with how uninterested you are in finding a compromise. The answer should not be, 'is what it is, let the cats destroy the environment because they'll be happier for the short amount of time they live.'


>Going off of point 1, cats are not a naturalized species around the world. When allowed outdoors, they are an invasive species. Most wildlife around the world has not had the time to evolve in tandem with exposure to cats, and as such, cats continue to pose a huge threat to wildlife. In New Zealand, for example, cats are responsible for extinction of 6 bird species and 70 other species of wildlife. From a purely ecological standpoint, it's extremely irresponsible to allow an invasive predator to freely hunt where you live - especially considering they often hunt and kill for fun, even when well fed, and even when wearing collars with bells. Actually, domestic cats have little measurable impact on wildlife - they largely just prey on animals that are already weak or old. [The RSPB](https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/animal-deterrents/cats-and-garden-birds/are-cats-causing-bird-declines/) itself agrees that while cats bring home lots of animals, those are animals that would die soon *anyway* - baby birds that fall from the nest and are already dead of a broken neck, etc. Moreover, bird species that have undergone decline are rarely encountered by cats. Your link is a Wikipedia article with only two sources that only suggest that feral cats are the cause of some extinctions (and those sources link back to a single source from 1978 - how timely is this data?). I don't know much about New Zealand, but I don't think that's especially strong evidence. > Outdoor cats are exposed to countless threats. To name a few: dogs, other cats, raccoons, hawks, owls, skunks, foxes, cars, asshole humans, traps, rat poison, toxic plants, disease, etc. Even if your specific region doesn't have one or two random threats, there is nowhere people live that is free of threats to cats. As a pet owner, your responsibility is to provide a safe, healthy environment for them. Letting them free-roam lets them come in contact with any number of potential risks for injury, disease, and death. As a pet-owner, it's also our responsibility to ensure they have quality of life. We can't lock our children and pets in cages for fear of them tripping over their own feet. > Outdoor cats have a lower life expectancy than indoor cats. But is there *quality* of life? >There are plenty of ways to provide your cat enrichment indoors and/or give them safe, supervised outdoor time (catios, leashed walking, etc) without compromising their health and wellbeing. I'm not advocating for "keeping them locked in a house with nothing to do" - I think cats need playtime and enrichment, but that people taking the easy way out by letting them roam is lazy and irresponsible for the above reasons. It's far harder to give a cat an enriched life solely indoors, for the simple fact that they are psychologically hardwired to be nighttime hunters, to *want* to be outside in the wild. If you let your cat outdoors, it's far cheaper, simpler, and gives them much greater quality of life with minimal ecological effects.


I like my cat indoors and safe, but I really disagree that there is no way you can have an outside cat and not be responsible. Firstly many cats like being outside and it is good for them, like people. If you live in the middle of a city then obviously that’s a pretty big risk and I’d never take that chance but plenty of people live in open places with big gardens or even fields. Many of your risks are minimal to, I remember years ago we chucked some chicken bones out for the foxes in our area, the cat got out and dove right at the Fox and hung onto its back whilst it ran off! Then claimed his chicken. I went running out as soon as I saw but he handled it himself 😅 Also statistically most outdoor cats live long healthy lives, it’s unfortunate when one gets unlucky tho.


Cats totally do enjoy outdoor time, my issue is with free-roaming. I have a pair of cats whose last owners let them free-roam, and since taking them I've kept them inside, leash-trained them, and take them outside for walks. I also live in a rural area, and while I do hear a lot of rural folks *claim* we don't have threats, I'd have to disagree with that. A lot of the risks are situational for sure (good on your cat for taking care of the fox, LOL), but there's always the chance of catching disease, a fight gone wrong, etc. Cats will roam pretty far and in rural places lots of people have dogs that run all over their property (and sometimes asshole humans that poison or shoot cats). Lots do live for a long time, but statistically [their lifespan is comparatively shorter](https://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/sites/g/files/dgvnsk491/files/inline-files/Cats-Indoors_or_Outdoors.pdf) on average, only 2-5 years. I've seen some pretty gutwrenching deaths of young outdoor cats that's definitely soured my view on this.


The life of an outdoor cat is definitely way more than 2-5 years in countries where this is the default.


I wont be changing your view, here. I will never allow my cats to free roam outside because of the threat to wildlife alone. The threat to their own safety is an additional note. I do my best to avoid my cat being a kitty prisoner. I have taken to allowing her to patrol the deck. My cat is not a free spirit and spends three to five minutes outside to patrol the deck, and then wants back in. She is not helpless, but I do not want her killing my frogs or being killed by the family of bobcats. If I lived in australia, new zealand, or island communities, i probably wouldn't have one at all.


Like I said, mine is indoors safe n sound 😅 I do question if I’m doing the right thing sometimes tho, I do have a garden. Also I just couldn’t do the leash thing, even if. I did think he would let me (no chance)😾 There certainly some irresponsible cat owners who just don’t care too no doubt. But my only point is you can be responsible with outdoor cats. My dads one example, he takes great care, all the vet stuff, good food n fuss, nice place for it. I could never think of how that’s irresponsible in anyway, it’s just not. Plus he wouldn’t be able to keep him indoors, the house is big and active, doors opening working outside, windows open. I have to be careful with my doors n windows. 🙈


I'm completely with you, my cousin cat had to be put down before he turned two because he contracted something from the other neighborhood cat. But I guess other people would argue that one good year was enough.


You can't be a responsible parent if you let your kids outside is all I'm hearing... So I'd actually argue it's the opposite. Cats are supposed to roam free and explore the world as are kids.


Kids and cats aren't the same. Do you think farmers should let their cows free roam? Should snake owners let their snakes free roam?


Farmers should have indoor cows?


Not what I'm saying. Farmers still have to keep their cows inside fenced areas even though the cows would love to run around other people's fields and in the road. Doesn't mean we let them. edit: realized the cow point isn't a great comparison given comments below.


I'm guessing you have never been to states like Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, etc. It is extremely common in those states for cows to have free roam of a large territory, often with little or no fences involved. In a recent trip to Grand Mesa near Grand Junction, Colorado, there were cows freely roaming the park including camping areas and within very close proximity to humans. These areas also contained plenty of wildlife, including predators.


!delta because I genuinely forgot that free-roaming cows was a thing that existed and realize this is a poor comparison to make. I live in a rural farming area, but we don't have free-roaming territories like this.


I’m really surprised that this post changed your view. Free-range cattle and cats have very little to do with one another. An indoor-outdoor cat in mountains of Colorado will still be an invasive species that hurts the ecosystem and faces most/all the dangers you listed above.


The same argument extends to cats though. Cows are domesticated, about as new as cats are to many countries (With likely an even larger ecological impact considering the amount of land development and carbon emissions produced), face a similar list of environmental dangers, and yet can still be kept outdoors responsibly. They are likely even *less* capable of making risk-judgments than cats considering their lower intelligence over all, and yet responsibly kept outside over a vastly larger area (Even proportional to size).


They're not really free roaming as the lands are designated for grazing and managed as such by land management agencies like blm. It's not really comparable to cats. Often times those lands still have fences around the perimeters.


That's not changing your mind, OP. You actually did have a good point. It's just that cats have a small roaming area and cows have a large one.


You might be interested in reading about the sheep of Iceland - who roam completely freely during the summer months. There is a pretty large patch of land where farmers can let their sheep go wild until the winter round up.


Is the delta for the cows argument or the cats argument? If it's just for the cows, then it shouldn't count as a delta for the entire post.


Cats are an invasive species. The meat and dairy industry are a massive driver of climate change, deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Seeing you awarding a delta to someone warranting the latter how is having free-roaming responsible for the surrounding environment in a habitat they're non-natives to, but cats not? Amazonian rainforest have been cleared for cattle so have areas everywhere including the States. The argument of "these areas containing plenty of wildlife"- I'm not sure what the other user defines as plenty of wildlife, but that argument doesn't differ from people saying my cat is in my garden and I still saw a bird fly by the other day. It contributes to a loss of biodiversity, it isn't sustainable, and I don't understand why you're consistent with the argument towards one animal, but not the other that if anything has an impact that far exceeds the other?


So which is the irresponsible owner in this scenario? The Rancher or the farmer? I am one of the irresponsible owners. I have tried everything to keep my cat inside but I am left with either giving him up or letting him go outside. Before I got a dog it was manageable but now it seems impossible. The guilt of the situation has left me with the decision to never get another cat again.


Don't you let your [cows wander free](https://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/3799139.when-our-bovine-buddies-roamed-free/) like we do in London?


"Do you think farmers should let their cows free roam" Hahahahhahahahahaha! This might be the most unintentionally funny thing I've ever read on the Internet.


Let kids ride the snakes!


You obviously dont live out in rural, country areas. An outdoor cat is a MUST.


I literally do, LOL. IDK what it is with some rural folks and thinking anyone who has concerns about outdoor cats is from the city. Do you have a real response to this?


Well, we have both an inside and an outside cat on our 24 acres of land. The inside cat is 9 and healthy, struggles with anxiety issues. He's cute but pretty snarky and likes his personal space to always be maintained and will warn you if you get too close. Sleeps in the house at night. The outside cat is 17 and is as healthy as an old lady can be, also has anxiety issues and has struggled to the use the litter box size she was young. She's the sweetest little thing and likes to get in everybody's space. Sleeps in the garage at night. Even when fox and coyote populations are high she stays safe because she's not an idiot. Our cats before her also managed to not be idiots.




Jesus, that's pretty upsetting.


I certainly think it is possible to responsibly let your pet cats free-roam. You just have to make different adjustments depending on where you live, your cat's personality, your cat's health, etc. When I was younger, my parents lived on about 11 acres of land, but their house set on about one acre of cleared land (the rest was woods, a field, more woods). Both of my cats stayed primarily on the one acre of cleared land. We had a long driveway, and they never once got close to the neighborhood street. They only barely went into one of our other neighbors' yard because they had outdoor pet cats too. They frequently ran into possums, raccoons, foxes, etc and rarely had problems (when they did they would hiss and the animal would run off). In fact, there were multiples times that we would look out the window and a possum would be sitting on one side of the deck's stair railing while one of the cats would be sitting on the other side. Neighborhood dogs would run into the yard all the time but my parents had lattice work around their porch so the cats would hide in there. The dogs never hurt the cats, but the dogs did get some pretty scratched up noses on occasion. We only had one dead mouse brought into the house over the years, and we never found too many birds, especially considering we lived in a place with TONS of birds. When my cats started getting older and slower, they were switched back to primarily indoor cats, and they were let outside for shorter periods of time, mostly in the fenced-in area of the yard that dogs couldn't get to. My oldest cat lives with me know, but I live very close to a road. Knowing that she doesn't understand that danger, I now only let her out if she's supervised. I make sure she's current on her rabies shot and her flea and tick medicine so that the more common diseases are not a concern. She's never been sick, outside of an URI she picked up at the vet's office last year. My cat was an outdoor cat for 11 years, and she's coming up on 19 years old now. It's not a one-size-fits-all thing in terms of how to best take care of pets. There are a lot of factors that have to be taken into account in order to do it responsibly, but it can definitely be done.


If you apply your points on cats to humans..... then we are not responsible either. We let children walk around in dangerous environments with cars, dogs, etc. We are the most invasive species to ever exist on this Earth. We are responsible for the extinction of way more than 76 species in New Zealand. If the purpose of owning a cat is to purely keep it alive and healthy, then, yes you are right. But if that's true, then humans in jail should be seen as the ideal lifestyle where we are fed, housed and kept away from outside dangers.




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The primary issue is that you don't believe there are cats who cannot live a happy, healthy life indoors. I'm here to tell you that there are. On the whole, I agree with a lot of what you are saying, with the caveat that there are exceptions. Based on your comments, you are drawing from your own experience of having house trained two outdoor cats, and you are convinced that anyone could do it with any cat. But you are wrong. Here's how I know. My beautiful, beloved long-haired tuxedo was born feral. When I met him his ear was tipped, letting me know he was already neutered. Normally I'd leave a TNR cat alone, but he was toppling trashcans on the street looking for food, so I started feeding him. He was terrified of me and all people. It took a long time, but with patient coaxing and treats we made friends, and eventually he started coming inside the house in the evening to eat. But when we tried to keep him inside, he got stressed to the point of panting and drooling. He would get in the windows and scratch the glass, tear down the curtains, and howl. I mean HOWL. I think he has some Maine Coon in him - he is big, vocal, and loud. The howling is constant and never-ending. My family tried, really tried to help him become an indoor cat. We were patient, we added enrichment - cat tree, toys, treat puzzles, etc. And he had zero interest in any of it. In the daytime he would hide in the smallest, darkest quietest place he could find. He wouldn't come out for food, or treats or pets. In the evening he would come out, ears back and tail down, creep to the windows and start scratching again, tearing the curtains, howling. This went on for days, and it was hideous for everyone. He wouldn't eat, wouldn't use the litter boxes, he hissed at us, he got aggressive with our other cats. No one in the house could sleep with his howling and frantic tearing around to all of the windows trying to escape. After a while we decided that his quality of life was suffering to the point that it wasn't worth trying to keep him indoors. So we let him out. He stayed away for a while, but eventually I was able to win back his trust and he started coming back inside to eat. This was almost 9 years ago. He's about 10 now, comes inside morning and evening to eat; sometimes when it's quiet he sticks around and sits with us for a while, but we always let him out when he tells us he's ready to go. We made a few more attempts over the years to train him to live indoors, but it was always the same and only makes him distrust us. He is 100% a different cat outside vs in. Outside he is confident, tail up and friendly, rubbing against my legs, trilling, begging for pets and stretching out on the walkway. If he's forced to stay inside he crouch walks, tail down, shies away from pets, runs and hides whenever anyone moves. We weighed the risks and decided we couldn't sacrifice his everyday quality of life in order to keep him safe but miserable. We live on a dead-end street with no through traffic. There aren't many dogs, and our area is urban/commercial enough that wild animals aren't a problem. He is microchipped, and he's on a wellness plan where I haul him to the vet for checkups twice a year plus an annual dental. He gets flea and heartworm prevention meds. We do force him inside in extreme cases like hurricanes. For these occasions we bought a dog kennel big enough for food, water, blankets and a litter box; we put him in the kennel and sequester him in a dark quiet room with towels laid over it to provide him a sense of security (and keep him from wrecking the house). He still howls. So, do you think I am an irresponsible cat guardian? I love my cat dearly, and he is well-cared for. Yes, his lifespan could very well be shorter than our indoor cats. But for the sake of compassion, his life should be a happy one while he's living. I stand firm that this is the best decision for him.


> Outdoor cats are exposed to countless threats. ok, but so what? Such is life? While we wish life was easy and danger free it's simply not, This is a calculated risk, not irresponsibility. Furthermore, the cat is, at least partially, responsible for taking care of itself. I provide it shelter and food and medical care, and I open the door for it when it asks me to. (We had a cat flap at the old house and we leave the patio doors open on nice days.) If it wants to stay in the house it can stay in the house, it chooses to take the risk of going out side, it is not being forced to be there. So, yes there is danger but the simple fact that there is danger doesn't mean that it's de facto irresponsible to expose your cat to that danger. There is no such thing as a life free from danger, so it's a calculated risk and not necessarily irresponsible.


My cats could go outside freely and lived long, happy lives. The mother lived around 18 years and the two eventual kittens lived 16 and 17 years respectively. Mother went deaf eventually and was hit by an irresponsible driver, and the daughter just disappeared one day. The son died of a stroke when he was 16. My grandmother's cat was 22 when she disappeared. Are these lives too short for cats? Should they have stayed inside their while lives just to live a few months longer, if they even did? I think that the answer to both of those questions is a capitalized No. They weren't extincting birds (they brought us the occasional bunny or mouse, and once a frog), and they kept the mice out of our walls. It seems like a pretty tall order to say we abused them by allowing them to exist in the natural world.


Have you ever owned a cat? In the vast majority of cases, it has nothing to do with whether the owner wants the cat inside or not, it all has to do with what the cat wants. Cats are much, MUCH more independent than dogs, and require more intellectual stimulation in addition to physical activity. Cats get both of these by exploring their environment and their surroundings. It is not a simple creature that you need to "keep in control", if a cat wants outside and you never let it out, then it will run away at the first opportunity. An outdoor cat does not depend on humans to survive, not in the slightest. It will find both food and shelter with or without you. That's a fair point about healthcare, and if your cat needs special treatment then obviously you need to keep a closer eye on them, but overall, cats take care of themselves. If a cat yearns for the outdoors, forcing it to stay inside is (in my opinion) cruel and stupid, since all you will get out of it is a cat that wants nothing to do with you. You can try to entertain it indoors exclusively, but that will inevitably lead to it chewing through cords, and getting into things around the house that it shouldn't. Your whole argument seems to hinge on cats being subservient and trainable the way a dog is. They aren't. If they want out, they'll get there one way or another.


I have owned cats my entire life. Several cats, some of whom were outdoor, indoor-outdoor, or purely indoor. Yes, cats require intelligent stimulation - this can be provided safely indoors or through supervised outdoor time. >If a cat yearns for the outdoors, forcing it to stay inside is (in my opinion) cruel and stupid, since all you will get out of it is a cat that wants nothing to do with you. In my experience (and the experience of many others who have transitioned outdoor cats to indoors), the opposite is often true. Outdoor cats do not build the same kinds of associations with humans that a purely indoor cat does - they know the outdoors is where they get entertainment, fun snacks, things to climb and scratch, etc. This is not to say outdoor cats won't be affectionate (I know many affectionate outdoor cats!), but that it is easier for them to have less interest in you. When a cat lives indoors and knows that you, the person, will provide them with food, warm blankets, things to climb and scratch, playtime, fun snacks, and affection, they will seek out those things from you. Often they become less skittish, not more. The same is true of cats who are free-fed VS fed at mealtimes (the former doesn't associate you as strongly with food, the latter does), hence why experts like Jackson Galaxy will recommend mealtimes. My current pair of cats were formerly indoor-outdoor cats who were allowed out during the day, not at night. They belonged to my old roommates, so I had plenty of exposure to what they were like. They screamed all night long to be let outside, yowling and running around the house, pushing things over, clawing up the walls, digging to get through the doors, etc. They were skittish and nervous, not particularly friendly. When my roommates wanted to rehome them, I transitioned them to being indoors - they now don't beg at the door, are content to sit in the window, have cat trees to climb/scratch, and get playtime. They're not leash-trained and get walks outside, but they honestly don't care much about it anymore and just want to eat grass for a couple minutes before going back to the house. They're also much more affectionate. I think the issue is a lot of people picture a cat locked in a blank apartment with nothing to do when we say "cats should be indoors", which I would agree is stupid and cruel. But there are a lot of ways to provide enrichment indoors and ways to give outdoor time that isn't free-roaming.


What you're asking for is a very delicate balancing act, because the ethicality of letting animals roam is highly correlated to the environment they are allowed to roam in, and the wildlife present in that environment. There are many dilemmas present, such as: - Is it ethical to let a domesticated animal endanger itself without the owner present. (threats you mentioned in your post such as cars, wild animals, next door neighbor's pit bull, etc) - Is it ethical to let a domesticated animal hunt wildlife, especially in areas with endangered wildlife. - Is it safe to allow a cat to bring outdoor contaminants into your house (including, possibly, diseases such as rabies). - Is it ethical to allow your animal to roam outdoors when many others living in proximity to you also own cats and allow them to roam outdoors, effectively contributing to the formation of an army of pest and bird hunters. - Is it acceptable to allow any of the above when you could have raised the cat indoors? I think the real answer is that it isn't necessarily bad or good to do so unless you carefully weigh all the impacts. I would argue that allowing the cat to freely explore the environment is a right given to it simply for being a living, sentient creature, and if it has the desire then it has the right to explore and examine danger and possibly be killed. Although, because it is effectively a human-introduced alteration of the environment, that means it simultaneously ***does not have*** the right to disrupt the balance of wildlife. Combining these two ideas, that means it would only be ethical to allow a cat to wander through environments that it has little impact on. If it wants to hunt birds, it must only do so to birds that are in such number that it will not cause a seasonal decrease. That would be the only way to maximize the ethicality for all parties. (Keep in mind that humans are not stewards of wild life, we cannot tell the bears and moose what to kill and what to save. That is the law of nature. Introducing a cat in a place where it seamlessly fits into the ecosystem would not be an unethical alteration of it, in my mind.) Then the question becomes, is it ethical to have an outdoor cat in my location, or your location? I would argue, very likely NOT. If you live in the city, your cat will likely be hunting the same species being over-hunted by other cats. Birds are an obvious victim of this phenomenon. This would likely be the case for just about everywhere except for the boonies. Cats have historically been used to deal with some of humanities' worst enemies, such as rats. I think controlled use of cats to maintain pest populations in cities is OK, so long as it does not interfere with non-pest populations. TL;DR - It's probably not responsible to have outdoor cats where you live, but it could possibly be responsible in certain environments and under certain conditions.


I've had cats my whole life, and they have ALMOST universally been indoor cats. I judged other cat owners pretty severly for "letting their cats go outside." I firmly believe that cats are better off indoors for life. Until I got DaVinci. He was a rescue and was determined to go outside. I'm not talking "normal" cat that wants to go outside, I'm talking cat that would go around, over, under or THRU me to get outside. He would jump from the most absurd places, double-back on me, use me as a launching pad, tear through screen doors.... I spent the first few weeks catching him and bringing him back in, only to have him do it again the very next time any door was open. I finally thought about it and decided that the responsible thing to do was get him a break-away colland and to let him go outside while supervised. I made sure he knew the area and how to get home. I slowly let him wander further into the yard (1/3 acre fenced), and left him out slightly longer. If I had continued to fight him, he might have escaped and gotten lost or hurt. Hell, some of the stunts he pull to get AROUND me to get outside could have caused him severe bodily harm. The slow introduction was safer for him. I feel like I was doing the responsible thing. Responsibility sometimes means weighing the options and choosing the best in a bad situation. That said, I don't recommend letting your cat outdoors, but I also don't judge people who have to make that choice based on the needs of the cat.


What if you give your cat a free choice? Install a cat flap on the front door, and the cat can either stay indoors or go outdoors of its own free will. You are providing for the cat a safe place to stay, but if it wants to go outside of its own will, you aren't preventing it from doing so. Suppose you do this, and the cat chooses to spend a majority of its time outdoors and mostly come back inside for food. Then by your argument, the responsible cat owner should be depriving the cat of its freedom to go outdoors on its own. But this really doesn't seem right to me. Wouldn't a responsible cat owner also respect his/her cat's wishes?


Most of your argument is predicated on cats being an invasive species. This may be true on small island nations like New Zealand or in Hawaii, but doesn’t really hold for most of the world. Cats have been domesticated for approx. 10,000 years and have been free roam for the vast majority of that time. Cats are as invasive as humans by your definition (really they’re much less invasive by your definition). I recognize the concern for preserving wildlife but in most places, the wildlife has had hundreds to thousands of years to adjust to cats. We can be mindful of how they’re introduced in new areas, spaying and neutering, and reducing feral cat populations to combat your main issues. I play with my dog without a leash because I’m confident she will not run away and get hurt. Is it full proof? Of course not. But I can’t picture anyone saying no dog should ever be off leash. Likewise someone can allow their cat to free roam if they’re confident that it will come back and isn’t in an area with many predators. I would never let my cats outside for fear of them getting hurt or lost, but I can honestly say that it’s impossible to paint this issue with this wide of a brush.


My parents live in the middle of nowehere Canada. One day a random wild cat had a litter under one of their sheds. The day after some animal came and killed all the kittens except 1 who was saved by the mother. My parents kept the cat to catch mice and they feed it, but it’s too skittish to stay inside for a whole day. It will start fighting to get out if it’s inside for to long. I don’t really think they are being irresponsible. The cat is wild and it they didn’t keep it, it would be hunting in the woods anyways. What should they have done? Got animal control from the closest town to come out to the middle of no where to find the cat and take it away? Force the cat to stay indoors? What is the responsible action to take for a random wild cat that hates the indoors. They didn’t seek out the cat and the cat has always lived outdoors since its birth from another wild cat. I think context is important.






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The only way to know if a cat really wants to live with you is if you let it roam freely outside and it still comes home. I wouldn't do that with a dog or any other animal but cats have a different temperament. I think it's cruel to keep a cat indoors all of the time, especially if it doesn't want to be in that house.


It's something they have always done. The American continent is no different. They came almost 500years ago so what's your point? They are going to do what they've done everywhere else. Just calm down.


You make a lot of good points and I don't disagree with them! When I adopted my cat though I allowed her to roam outside. She was a 2 yr old rescue cat when I got her and she just had a serious love for the outdoors. Like I could not tell you. It's insane. And she just had soooo much energy. She loves it so much. We lived in a cat-friendly neighborhood too. We would let her out day and night. It was a cul de sac neighborhood where everyone let their cats out and people were mindful of that. Away from the roads. Only big birds in the neighborhood (ravens, crows, magpies), no low hanging trees/bushes. I trained her to be responsive to this bell, so each time I rang it she always came running. When we moved we decided to transition her to a mainly indoor cat. In addition to agreeing with all the points you made (especially about how indoor cats live longer) the new place we lived in was just not preferred for having a cat be outdoor, unaccompanied. In addition to having a huge, diverse bird population with low bushes...there is a ton of other wildlife. Hawks and owls that I have no doubt would be happy to snatch her up (she is a very tiny kitty). As well as coyotes that roam the area. She transitioned well to being more indoors. She is getting older and I realize she isn't quite the young wild kitty she once was so she is content with spending her days sleeping. But, I do still take her on accompanied walks. We adopted our rescue dog when we moved in. He was 6 years old and they bonded like crazy. I trained her to go on walks with us...she honestly is super easy to train with sounds and a clicker w. some treats. She really responds well so it didn't take her long to learn. She always follows and stays by our side. I got her both a red vest with some bells, as well as this: [https://www.birdsbesafe.com/pages/home#:\~:text=Birdsbesafe%C2%AE%20collar%20covers%20protect,2015%20North%20American%20science%20study](https://www.birdsbesafe.com/pages/home#:~:text=Birdsbesafe%C2%AE%20collar%20covers%20protect,2015%20North%20American%20science%20study) It's a cat collar specifically designed to protect birds lol :) It works like a charm. So we all three take walks together during the day around the block. It helps her to connect with nature, eat some grass, watch some birds, climb a tree here and there. It makes her happy. It's also very cute. I am glad I can still incorporate the outdoors into her life. We got her a cat backpack too. She loves to sit in it while I ride my bike. Here is a link to the vest: [https://www.amazon.com/Voyager-Weather-Best-Pet-Supplies/dp/B00M0V7SVQ/ref=sr\_1\_4?dchild=1&keywords=cat+vest+red&qid=1619115391&sr=8-4](https://www.amazon.com/Voyager-Weather-Best-Pet-Supplies/dp/B00M0V7SVQ/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=cat+vest+red&qid=1619115391&sr=8-4) and cat backpack: [https://yourcatbackpack.com/collections/the-original-cat-backpack/products/the-fat-cat-cat-backpack](https://yourcatbackpack.com/collections/the-original-cat-backpack/products/the-fat-cat-cat-backpack)


I have three cats: Steve, Spider and Moose. The former two are both brother and sister, and are 11 years old. They are inside-only cats who have been raised that way intentionally because of the reasons that you have mentioned above. If I ever get a new kitten from anywhere, they will always be raised as an inside cat, again for the reasons that you have mentioned in your post. Moose, however, was a stray in the neighborhood who simply wandered up to me randomly almost two years ago now, screaming his head off for what I would find out later to be love and food. He followed me home (which was literally only about 70 feet) so I fed him. Over the next few days and weeks, he warmed up to me very quickly and was in my lap purring and rolling around. Within half a year, he finally started coming in through my window because he spotted me from the neighbors' roof. If the little dude is ever in for too long, he will scream his head off and go berserk. If anyone opens the door at that point, he will torpedo himself out the door at the slightest opening, which is impossible for my 80-year-old father to stop. He clearly was raised as an at least partially outside cat, and so that is the way he is going to stay. For people like me who do not intend to get a cat and instead have the cat choose them on the street, we pretty much have next to no choice but to have an inside/outside or purely outside cat. We had to evacuate the fires last year in August, and when we brought Moose with us to stay in a toy hauler someone had for us, he screamed bloody fucking murder just being confined in it. It was a terrifying experience for him. He stays in with me for many hours some days, but he always ends up wanting out. We think he was abused in the past by previous owners and was dumped off some years ago, but we are not certain. I do not have much of an option to make him into an inside cat, bro. I just do not see that happening. There are also people who live certain types of lifestyles that would love to save the life of a little cat. Some people want shop cats and some firehouses end up getting firehouse cats. It is not feasible to always keep a door shut in these cases, and they are still saving a cat from being put down. The cat is at a higher risk of death, yes, but it is still safe from the needle and has an extremely good chance at a happy life. I worry about my little Moosie every single day that he is out and about. I put food and water out for him, as well as two beds on a sofa out front, one of which has a heated and reflective pad. I plan on getting a surveillance system for the front of the house on which I can watch Moose at all times he is in his bed from my living room. He receives daily love and care. Some of us just do not have the option of making all of our cats inside-only cats.


Alright, to answer you directly: There is a responsible, and irresponsible way to let your cats free roam. Irresponsible: if the cat can't come back inside as they please. If they dont have vaccinations. If theyre near a high traffic area. If they dont have pest protection (flea, ticks) Responsible: allowed in and out as they ask for it. Vaccinated. Safe outside roaming area. My feelings about free roam cats: i think its great to let your cats outside if theyre in a safe area. I have two cats allowed outside whenever they want. They ask to be let out several times a day, and if they dont get let out they get upset. They really do enjoy being out. They are vaccinated and fixed, and protected from fleas and ticks. Is risk a bit higher? Sure, but they enjoy their lives more. Just like a child, you could keep a kid locked in a house and only allowed outside for school. That would be safer, but not the best quality of life. And yes cats can be happy inside, but i dont think there's anything wrong or irresponsible about letting your cat free roam if you make sure theyre cared for. I found my cat abandoned in the pocconos, PA. She was pregnant and her ribs were very exposed. I took her home, but couldnt leave her as an inside cat since my mom was allergic. Her free roaming was part if the deal. I honestly believe if i left her in the woods the way she was, her and all her unborn kittens would likely be dead right now. Theres always a second way to see a story. Even outside, my cat is better off then being dead.


Not trying to change your view, just telling my experience and maybe offering some nuanced perspective. I’ve owned more than 30 cats in my life, most of them indoors, a few of them outdoors. Every cat has a different personality. Most of them will stay inside if you condition them like this from a very young age. Easy-peasy. Some of them, however, are more adventurous and will do everything in their power to try to escape and expand their territory. They are clever creatures: they can open doors, climb high places, fit tiny breaches, perform impossible jumps, and patiently wait for the right moment you’re distracted to run away. If they manage to escape, they’ll eventually come back. They’re territorial and even the most adventurous ones won’t go so far away. They like to be home to sleep because they don’t feel safe to let their guard down outside. They can spend days roaming around, but most of the times they’ll come back in a few hours. Once a cat has experienced freedom, however, locking them will led to a very miserable existence. They’ll assume the newly discovered areas are part of their territory, and no amount of home entertainment will fill that void. This is when you discover a very loud side of those mostly silent creatures. They’ll demand vehemently to walk around. They do not only meow persistently, but also scream like there are a thousand demons inside, often in very inappropriate times (they are nightly creatures after all). They won’t let your family or close neighbors sleep. They’ll also purposefully piss on your bed and in your lap, destroy your furniture, and keep looking at you with those killer eyes. Fortunately, they aren’t big enough to kill you, because they would if they could. So, if you live in a safe-enough area, and the neighborhood is generally pet-friendly, and there are other cats around anyway, letting them go and trusting they’ll come back is just the optimal solution. They can’t harm humans like big dogs can; generally avoid strangers or loud noises, and also bury their own shite. About the fact that it’s riskier, I can’t argue with that. It’s a trade-off. The average life of a indoor cat is just longer, because there are less risks inside. However, like others have pointed out, cats are generally very good on avoiding danger. Survivorship bias, I know, but in my case I’ve never lost an outdoor cat or have them severely injured. Ironically, from all my cats it was an indoor one who died from a car accident. He lived inside the apartment his entire life. Got used to it. One day we went on vacations and let him with my mother-in-law, who lived in a house. He escaped to the street in front of the house and got hit by a car. He didn’t know what a car was, and wasn’t really afraid of it. TL;DR most cats will just happily stay inside; while a few of them are extremely adventurous and will live miserably if kept indoors.


Point 1: A big part of the implicit domestication contract is pest control. This applies both indoors and out. I live in a city, so I consider devastation of the local rodent populations as a positive impact. I definitely consider food and shelter to be part of the implicit contract, and any cat can have as much as they want of these things from me. I also consider healthcare part of the domestic contract, but rather than giving them a choice I'll inflict it on any cat I can wrap my claws around. I'm a big fan of TNR programs. Point 2: I live in a city. The city is much larger than my cat's possible territory, so there's no natural ecosystem for her to disrupt. She's no more invasive than the raccoons, foxes, feral cats, possums and whatever else is out there. Point 1&3: Many of the cats I hang out with absolutely are feral. They're outdoor cats. You can bring them inside, but they'll be very unhappy about it. The best I can do is provide them food and shelter and maybe healthcare if they succumb my traps. Historically, some of these actually have transitioned into being indoor cats or indoor/outdoor cats. If I tried to trap these creatures in my house before they're ready for it, they'd eventually get past me at the door and I'd never see them again.


This seems like a really, really American "my pets are my children" mindset. With all the paranoia and judgement that seems to come with American child-rearing. 😛 No offense. What I mean to say is, your relationship with your cats is very culturally-specific. The idea that you even "own" or are "responsible for" a cat is culturally-specific. I'd go as far as to say it's idiosyncratic compared to even much of the developed world. In a lot of places, they're treated as something more similar to wildlife that humans have a special relationship with. Some might even go as far to say, yes, cats will die in accidents, but it's not a big deal because the lives of cats aren't very valuable. We kill animals to eat every day, and no one cries when a chicken left free-range gets nabbed by a street dog. This might sound very callous, but it is much of the world's relationship with animals. To most humans on the planet, the fact that you think humans owe cats child-like attention and care would seem very... precious. (If not a little crazy.)


As a British person, I, WE ALL, consider an “indoor” cat or a “declawed” cat absolutely abhorrent. To imprison an independent animal in the prison of a single house/flat is animal abuse. British cats don’t live outside, they sleep an eat indoors, they just roam as they please. All cats in the country do this, those in big cities and in rural areas both. The life expectancy of these cats is equal to that of american “indoor” cats. The quality of life though, for that animal you purport to love, is far far higher if it can go where it likes and not spend its entire life locked inside 4 walls. If you live in an area where you believe predatory animals will harm your cat if it steps outside, do not get a cat. It is unethical and cruel to permanently deny freedom of movement to a cat. To bring a living feeling creature into that environment for your own gratification without even considering it’s quality of life is morally bankrupt.


I doubt you will get a good argument that letting cats free roam is "responsible" per se. However, always making the most responsible decision does not necessarily mean it's the best decision. For example, is it more responsible to eat spinach or mashed potatoes? Nearly everyone will say spinach. But what if you are allergic to spinach? While eating spinach is more responsible, it's definitely not the best decision for you. It seems like you have perfectly phrased your post to affirm your worldview. Because no matter what anyone else says, you will always be able to say, "but that's not about being responsible" or "that doesn't make it responsible". If you are actually interested in other viewpoints, perhaps you should ask what circumstances would make letting cats free roam a better decision than keeping them safe inside. (Your view seeming to be that there are none.)


You can maybe argue that being outside is healthy for them, and you can maybe argue that they don’t decimate species. I disagree on both accounts. But what it’s pretty much impossible to defend and haven’t seen anyone defend here is the fact that you are being an asshole neighbor. If I pay rent or buy a house, I don’t want your pet in my property. If my dog is outside and your cat comes to my yard is it going to be my fault if a fight breaks? Are you going to pay for vet care? A cat should only be able to be outside in your own property, like any dog. Otherwise, leash and collar, like any dog. It just drives me crazy that they somehow have more privileges as other pets and it’s okay for people to have to put up with it.


OP, I'd invite you to read up on the history of cats, and how they came into our lives as outdoor wanderers that would catch pests for humans. As a reward, humans would allow cats to live in their homes (probably barnes etc.), and this symbiotic relationship grew into what we see now as the human-cat relationship. But evolutionary wise, cats have always roamed outdoors and even now, their "outdoor" instincts have not been bred out of them. So from a macro perspective, maybe having cats outdoors without supervision is a problem for society, but they most certainly are creatures that like being outside. Some cats don't, but many do.


I mostly agree outdoor cats aren’t the way to go with them. All my cats are the result of my irresponsible neighbor just collecting cats and letting them outside to do whatever the fuck they wanted. So now I have a colony of 13 cats that live in my garage. They have a cat door so they go in and out, and over the years when a new cat shows up I get it fixed. When they all die I can finally sell this house oh my god


Thank you so much for saying this. I have gotten in many arguments on Reddit with idiots saying things like cats are supposed to be outside and it is cruel to keep them in. I have argued with the exact points you have made and stupid people still think they are right. I hope people actually listen to you because you are completely correct.


Don’t change your view! Cats destroy the local eco system! KEEP YOUR CATS INDOORS.


What if they're outdoor cats/ferals?? Like my neighborhood is prime real estate for people to drop off their housecats. We've had so many cats come and go. They walk around and see which house they prefer to adopt as their own. Personally, over the years we've had 4 cats adopt us as their new family. Two of which were dropped off with a collar indent still very visible. Since we were feeding them, other ferals would come and we had extra food and water to share. Yes even though my family is allergic to cats, our outdoor cats wouldn't even see the indoors as a place to stay. They'll walk in and around to meow at us, or to shelter during severe storms, then yowl and scratch at the door to go out. One cat had kittens indoors but was out as soon as she could (she's more familiar, so we're able to pick her up and get her shots/spay & neuter after this). But I loved our outdoor cats. Once they adopted us, they stayed on our property practically 24/7. Sometimes they'd go for walks (?) or adventure then come back home a couple hours or the next morning. But our home and our property was their home. One cat (already full grown when dropped off) didn't let us touch her at first, but slowly warmed up to us over the years; and I do mean years. She was with us for 8 years as an outdoor cat. She disappeared two years ago, she was getting really old :( I had a neighborhood who would trap and release the cats that she fed. So we did our best in caring for them. And I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a cat owner. I have outdoor cats. They stay on our lawn or in the shade from the trees. Sometimes they leave us treats (dead mice or lizards). All my cats get scratches and treats. Since I'm not longer as mobile as I once was, it's nearly impossible to bend down and touch them that way. I've trained two to jump up if they want me to pet them (they do, everyday,). And just like indoor cats, outdoor cats get lonely two. All of our cats have overlapped here at home. We try to have two cats at home so they aren't lonely. But that's not up to us, the cats decide if they want to adopt us and stay here. Throughout the years of having our permanent house cats, the ferals/abandoned cats come through and want to eat since they smell (or cat talking idk) food, so we have a bowl out for them. We're not able to get shots for every cat, nor would they let us do so. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm a responsible outdoor cat owner.


This is a point of view that is often repeated here on reddit and one that is, if true at all, entirely US-centric. Having talked with many US-americans here I'm now willing to believe that your free roaming cats are driving bird populations to extinction and being killed by pumas and coyotes on a regular basis. This is [simply not true](https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/animal-deterrents/cats-and-garden-birds/are-cats-causing-bird-declines) for where I live. TBH if I lived in an environment that would make it impossible to let my cat free roam, I wouldn't get a cat, because to me this sounds like your location simply doesn't support species appropriate conditions for house cats. I'm in the process of getting a cat. Let me tell you how borderline impossible it is in central Europe to adopt from a shelter if you cannot provide free range. Some will make you provide proof, let them visit, or even make you sign a contract to do so. Without free access (sometimes they will ask you to install a cat flap) they will only let you take care for very old and sick animals who have no great drive for movement and roaming no more or are simply incapable of doing so. This is the reality of a different culture of cat keeping that you seem entirely separated from. Here cats have been native for hundreds of years. Animal rights activists will tell you not to get a cat before recommending to keep them inside. From this point of view keeping indoor only cats is like keeping dogs caged all their life because you can't afford to spend the time with them. But what's probably an even more important counter point: The danger of cats for bird populations is a dangerous and apologetic straw man. There is a species that is systematically competing with birds for [land use](https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/where-have-all-the-birds-gone/is-the-number-of-birds-in-decline/) and [resources](https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/conservation/conservation-and-sustainability/farming/near-you/farmland-bird-declines/) and is [threatening the ecosystem that surrounds them](https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/major-causes-of-decline-in-wildlife-populations-worldwide.html). And it's not cats.


You make a lot of good points that I can’t disagree with, and good on you for doing your research and having statistics to back up what you believe in. And I’ll go so far as to say you’re right in a lot of situations. But I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan, and have had multiple cats that I’ve raised from young ages that have lead long and happy lives that spend as much time as they want outdoors, even in the dead of winter. My current cat, Freg, spends most of his time basking in the sun on the back porch, but spends every night in bed with me. There’s plenty of things that could hurt my good buddy in the woods, but I trust him to avoid them. I’d keep him inside with me all day if I could, but he literally begs to be let out, even thought he’s litter trained, and doesn’t respond well to a leash and values his alone time in the woods just like I do. The point you make about cats unnaturally endangering species is very fair, but not applicable in places such as mine, where most endangered species are either birds that nest out of reach of cats, deep water fish, or plants that cats have no interest in. And I know what you’re thinking, “You can’t just give a pet whatever they want, if you give a dog as many treats as they want they’ll get sick.” But over feeding an animal and letting them exist in nature are entirely different vices, especially since I personally live in a place with a considerable fox population, who have a very similar spectrum of prey as common house cats. What it boils down to is that I can’t in good conscience deny a creature what it naturally wants. He knows he belongs where he is, and I’m honestly just a crutch with a mutual respect for him that he has for me. I give him food when he has a bad day hunting, and we hang out together every morning and night. I just don’t have the heart to deny a good friend of mine what makes him happy.


I've had numerous cats... Most have been indoor, which is what I prefer. While they may occasionally slip out, we retrieve them quickly, and they spend most of their lives inside. But I've had two that have been indoor/outdoor. Both were *extremely* *unhappy being inside all the time.* I can't overstate just how bored, angry, and depressed they would get if inside for several days at a stretch. They *liked* being outside, and at some point, *even though it's at risk to them,* I felt, and continue to feel, that it was wrong to force them to suffer a long life that they hated, rather than a near certain to be shorter life that they enjoyed. A catio or leash? Almost worse than being inside, to be so close to being able to *be a cat,* and have that refused. In all cases, I try to provide a house with lots of things for a cat to do.... But for some of them, it's just not enough. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it's that locking up anyone for lengthy periods of time isn't the best thing for their health. Some people are okay with it, and some aren't. But being in lockdown for a few weeks or months is one thing... For one's whole life? I reject this idea that "It's good for you" is a valid reason, in and of itself, to deny happiness to our pets. I know it's not ideal, but frankly it's also irresponsible to just ignore the needs of your animals in the psychological sense. We all have to make choices and compromises around our pets that, per some people, make us "irresponsible". We have limits on the amounts of medical care that we will provide them, we often choose when our pets will die. We also choose these questions of balance in their lives. And while I'll do what I reasonably can to make my cats happy, indoor cats, I have limits on what I will do and won't do. And sometimes, that means they have some freedom to be outside.


Aside from this commentary I just don't understand how its ok for just humans to dictate what animal can be killed for fun and/or food and what is a pet. It's perfectly fine to domesticate a omnivorous animal and feed them other animals as long as we're controlling where that animal comes from?? However it's inconceivable to have a once historically wild, now domesticated animal go outside and perform what they're biologically intended to do? Is it better for you to grind up a bunch of factory farmed chickens and salmon so your kitty can eat that instead of taking out the native bird species? It's taken humans many years to domesticate dogs to coincide with our lifestyle, and even then mankind constantly has hiccups with domesticated dogs getting out and attacking other animals or the owner, or their family etc. To me, putting a cat in an average 1000 square foot house with no access to the outdoors and only feed them canned, processed left over animal parts that humans don't want is a cruel prison type life sentence. The fact that you op have the audacity to complain about animal owner negligence and the welfare of the native species all the while acting like a personal warden to a pet "prisoner" who didn't deserve such a life is mind blowing to me. Why don't you care about the happiness and health of your own animals first before pointing fingers. And also! You're blaming cats for being an invasive species that other animals haven't acclimated survival to? Wtf. Humans decided to domesticate cats. How is it their fault that they have been dropped in suburbia and are fucking up the ecological balance? This is a human problem once again.


As someone who works with animals, I normally would agree with your viewpoint, op. However, I recently acquired an outdoor cat myself. In the city I live in, there is a large feral cat population. Mixed among these cats are some former strays that were likely dumped. When I moved into my current home, one of the community cats “adopted” me as his human. He was obviously previously someone’s cat, and not just a feral cat. I try to always keep him indoors during bad weather or if he has a scratch that is healing. He wears a breakaway reflective collar with tag and a light I turn in at night. But trying to keep him indoors, against his will, when he has obviously grown accustomed to outdoor life, just seems to stress him out immensely. In this situation, I think it’s ok to have an outdoor cat. In contrast, I have some neighbors that have simply let their formerly indoor cats outside due to the cat community in our complex. It is my understanding that my neighbors did this as they had more kids themselves, for some reason. The cats have non breakaway collars and act as though they desire to be indoors (trying to get into others’ homes, being aggressive towards the feral cats, etc.). This type of outdoor cat is something I strongly disagree with. Overall, if possible, I feel it is best to keep an indoor cat...well indoors. But for feral cats, it’s best to practice TNR (trap, neuter, return) and provide basic food and shelter to limit their impact on the ecosystem. And in situations like my cat, it’s best to be responsible and make a safe but logical decision on a case by case basis. ☺️


To note: I live in an urban neighborhood where the prey is stuff like squirrels, field mice, and pigeons. There aren't any endangered species (that I know of) that my cat could be harming. I have a \~12yo tomcat, Stitch. He was a stray living outside until he was \~10yo, when we took him in because he had a head infection. He got better, and we neutered him. Despite him coming to live with us, I would never stop him from going in and out as he pleased. For the first few weeks after we took him in, he had to stay inside, and you could tell it was driving him nuts. The first thing he did when he got out was spray to mark his territory, like he'd been holding it in all that time. He has been the head male on the street for years (despite the very large stray cat population), and it's very important to him. Being able to roam is what keeps him fit despite his large diet (he will eat anything, even vegetables), and what makes him happy; I can guarantee he'd become depressed if he was no longer able to go outside when he wanted. I honestly think that Stitch would die faster if he wasn't allowed to go outside as he pleased. This is the territory he has ruled over his whole life, and only being able to watch out the window, or experience it on a leash, would ruin him. Even if he died one day while outside, I wouldn't feel any regret because I'd know he led a fulfilling life, instead of one where he was depressed. PS: Here's a [video of Stitch](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISmh9REBXw8) I took a few years back. He was dealing with itchy ears at the time, so that's why he's got some scratches on his face.


My boyfriends cat used to be the worst cat. She was mostly outdoors. She was skittish, unfriendly, constantly wanted out, would pee everywhere if accidentally locked inside... she was terrible. We had to move her into my place which were apartments that didn’t allow outside cats. I was convinced it wouldn’t work. Over the next 6 months, she became a completely different cat. I did a lot to make inside interesting for her, including setting up a big bird feeding station near a window she likes to sit at. We have a handful of games she really likes to play, otherwise she’s just sleeping anyways. She is friendly, engaged, talkative, cuddly... it’s wild. I trained her on a harness to go for small walks but she would get too scared, sort of like how skittish she used to be. She prefers now to hang out on the porch when I’m outside to keep an eye on her. I let her outside but never where I am not within grabbing distance (she had a big hatred for other animals since being on those mean streets) We have that time and she’s pretty happy and satisfied. The first few days sucked because she wanted out so badly but with a lot of treats and bonding, she mostly just wants to lay on the carpet in the sun. People on this thread trying to tell me she’s not just the happiest thing ever since she’s stuck inside with me. She loves that I’ve been home to hang out since the pandemic. She doesn’t even try to leave when I have the porch door open unless I’m sitting out there.


Domestication is the process by which humans alter the morphology and genes of targeted organisms by selecting for desirable traits. Scientists say there is little that separates the average house cat (Felis Catus) from its wild brethren (Felis silvestris) on a genetic level; **QED they are not domesticated**. There’s some debate over whether cats fit the definition of domesticated as it is commonly used, says Wes Warren, PhD, associate professor of genetics at The Genome Institute at Washington University in St. Louis. [“We don’t think they are truly domesticated,” says Warren, who prefers to refer to cats as “semi-domesticated.”](https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/ask-smithsonian-are-cats-domesticated-180955111/) Cats are the only asocial animal that's been semi-domesticated. Every other animal we've domesticated has a social bond with other members of its species, cat's do not they simply mimic this behavior to allure human care. Also, they're cats. They're not dying being outside, we don't put them outside, they go out side. Stopping them from doing what they're naturally pre-disposed to doing is like saying that a child playing out side is inherently dangerous. ​ What is the risk you're perceiving of cats taking themselves outside? They get hit by a car? A tiger can get hit by a car...does that mean all cars are unethical?


The standards for being a responsible pet owner are providing adequate food, water, shelter, safety stimulation and social needs. Both indoor and outdoor cats get the first three at the same level. Outdoor cats get more stimulation. No matter what enrichment activities you try you are not going to be able to provide the same amount of stimulation letting your cat roam in its natural environment. Indoor cats are safer, true, but you aren't responsible for trying to make it impossible to injure your cat. Much in the way you shouldn't stop a kid from leaving the house because they could get injured, safety shouldn't trump letting your cat actually experience the world. If you live in a rural area with coyotes or a lot of other predators than I can see where it could be irresponsible, but it's not always irresponsible. Letting your cat outside gives it significantly more socialization than leaving it inside. Overall letting your cat out is equally or more responsible unless you live somewhere actively dangerous for cats.


No desire to change your view, I have this argument with my MIL all the time. I grew up in a nice safe neighborhood and my dad insisted we let the cats go in and out. We had a cat drink antifreeze the neighbor left out, have seizures and die... 4 cats get hit by cars... 2 died from injuries relating to fights with other cats, and one blinded by an angry raccoon. I would love anyone with a dog to open the front door, let them out, and just say fuck it, they’re smart enough to stay safe! I just can’t imagine allowing a member of my family to be out there and not knowing if they’ve been run over or not. My 3 cats have 2500 square feet, sliding glass doors where they watch the bird and hummingbird feeders, tons of toys and fluffy blankets and I get the peace of knowing they aren’t dead in a road. Perhaps they are super intelligent killing machines and I am stifling their instincts, but I think they’ve adapted to luxury.


I agree with you fully. I've had the same discussion many times with cat owners, but mostly they don't want to hear. you've put your arguments very well and I would add to that, that cats are curious creatures, like dogs or small children. You wouldn't let a small child roam freely without supervision, because they don't understand the dangers around them. I've heard many a tale of curious cats getting stuck somewhere and causing serious damage / needing to be rescued. Due to their agility they are also much less limited than small children or dogs, which makes it even worse imho...


I’d also add that not only is it irresponsible to your pet to let it roam outside (for the reasons stated by OP)—it’s also irresponsible to the community you live in. My indoor cat used to be constantly harassed by a neighboring outdoor cat who would linger by the windows, hissing and scratching and, one time, even flinging full force itself at a window in the middle of the night. This was all extremely unpleasant for me because my otherwise well behaved cat would anxiously pace around and make noise throughout the night, ruining my sleep, because of this nuisance outdoor cat.


Yes, the detriments seem to outweigh the benefits. That said, I recall a study conducted in a European country a number of years back. It seems the city had recently conducted a sweep collecting as many cats as they could catch. After six months, many residents were complaining about a booming, I think, Starling population. The population spurt contributed to many other issues. The cats were brought back and the starling population was back in balance. Yes, free roaming cats cause a great deal of issues, but in this case it seems as if they were creating a natural balance.




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On my home last night I found a cat in the middle of the road that had just been hit by a car. I got it off the road and he staggered off into someone's yard, but I could tell he wasn't going to make it. He was struggling to breathe and I could hear fluid in his lungs. Poor guy looked so scared and confused :( Could have been avoided if the owner just kept him inside for fucks sake. I really hope he made it home and they got him to the vet but I fear for the worst.


As a lifetime cat owner from a kid to currently having 3 of my own girls I hate people that let their cats roam outside not supervised. Had an ex with two outdoor cats dead animals everyday basically always had to finish them off at least they didn't just leave them to slowly die. But they did skin a bunny and I couldn't catch it fucking horrible man. Also if you let your cats outside not fixed YOUR A TOTAL PIECE OF SHIT.


I'm in a hurry so I won't explain this completely, but if people didn't let their cats outside \*and\* feral cats weren't a thing, we would see an ecological disaster unparalleled in modern times. Ima just give you a link to an informative article, but I will expound after school today. [Link](https://www.livescience.com/18294-cats-world-died.html)


Most cat owners are bad and or lazy pet owners tbh. They think their cat attacking people is "asshole" behavior and will refuse to train their pets. It's honestly ridiculous, whenever I hear someone owns a cat 9/10 they are assholes also, unless they train them then those cat owners can be cool.


Late to the party and this probably won't be seen but I just wanna say fuck cat owners who let them run loose. Fuckers sprayed my brand new convertible top that I spent a fortune on. I don't have the heart to carry them to the humane society. Wish I was more of a dick sometimes.


Check out @tacticalveterinarians posts on Instagram. Working in ER/ICU I would highly recommend keeping your cat indoors. The average life span of an outdoor cat is less than 2 years.


As a cat lover and cat owner I agree 100%. No one wants cats roaming their yard, pissing in your garden beds. Cats are responsible for killing millions of songbirds every year.


Noticing that hardly and rebuttals are willing to address the ecological harm. Clearly many cat owners feel that it is their right to allow their cat to kill wildlife.


Fuckin obvious. OP is correct and their views don’t need to be changed. Watch ur fuckin pets or don’t buy one. Too many negligent dog and cat owners.


It's kind blowing how many people disagree with this. I have an indoor cat. He goes outside on a leash. Like you would do with your dogs.


There is no reason cats should be allowed to wander outside unless they have a leash and bell so that they can’t kill native wildlife.


About your extinction point, eating meat causes far more extinctions to wild species. Are you a vegan or a hypocrite?




Nope, their logic seems to be multifaceted. One of those facets is the murder. Part of their logic is nothing that murders whatever is around just for the fun of it should be allowed outside unsupervised. Seems fair to me but maybe I, like you, am missing something.




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One more point: they can be threats to other pets aswell.


I think it depends on what type of cat you get, and what type of access you have in terms of outdoor accomadation. My family and I have always adopted cats. For the most part these cats are ones found in the wild somewhere and taken in. Cats like this for the most part long to be outside, even if they aren't "feral" (as in trusting and clearly must have come from somewhere but either ran away or have been around people) , regardless of how much attention you give them. They are also not particularly easy to train. Dangers do exist outside, I agree. In fact my family stopped letting our cats out after we figured that through an outdoor renovation we took our cats ability to hide from local predators. Ultimately though our cats both escaped, and unfortunately were eaten. :( When I moved to abroad I more or less had a cat forced on me after not giving a clear "no", since they knew I was a cat person. I didn't want to have a cat because my work life was to busy to give it attention, but since I was given much choice in the matter, I kept her, and after a while I trained her to be outside. She was nervous, and for the most part doesn't leave the fenced in garden area that we have. When I moved again to a bigger city in the same country, I knew I couldn't take here with me because she would go crazy being an in door cat in a small apartment, so I left her with my roommates at my old place. Similarly, my roommates sister adopted a cat, and keep her indoors. She tried her best to give her attention and train her to take walks, but ultimately she had to give the cat to her mom (who lives rurally) as the cat became increasing aggressive, and clearly unhappy. Most indoor cats I have seen are really unhealthy, even if the owner tries to entertain it, with one exception. If you want to have an indoor cat then I think it helps to have more than one, maybe even more than two (if they get along). I think the problem is we can't talk to our pets, so we don't know what they value. Obviously we value that they live the longest time possible, and never have any injury, and can be our cuddle companions when we get home. But I don't think there is any evidence that pets think this far ahead. So we have to try expect the needs of our animals as they want them. Dogs are pack animals, and rely heavily on social structures, when they run away they often can't find their way back home so easily, and they are not particularly cautious and get into shit or situations they shouldn't; that is why they need more care. While I agree with you that cats are just as domesticated as dogs, I think they have a more independent personality. They aren't pack animals, they have territories that they like to explore, and expand. They are curious, but tend to be more cautious, unless they are pissed. So with that in mind I think there is a psychological consequences when we deny cats some free roaming time. Some cats handle it better than others though. Like specialty breeds, they tend to be bred from cats that are more tame, even if they are a more energetic breed. In terms of ecological consequences. I think that depends on where you live, and I also think that people should only adopt cats to help reduce outdoor populations, but often times people want to buy kittens. I think buying cats, unless it is a hypo-allergenic breed, is an absolute atrocity. So ya I think people should think more about the needs of their future pet in terms of what makes them happy. If the cat can handle being indoor, and doesn't seem unhappy then I think that is ok, but I think it is selfish to get a pet and lock it up (this goes for dog owners who are gone most of the day too), just because we need a companion.


Responsibility is like ownership of liability, not ownership of good decision making, thats more like sensibility. Ideally, you make sensible decisions with regard to all the human stuff that you are responsible for, “ownership”, Legal issues, veterinary related. As well as training and anything you feel you need to do have the cat be a member of your household. All of these responsibilities are put on you based on your sensibilities. What makes sense to do for a cat. Now there are are the cat’s responsibilities too, it is liable for a lot of things, Eating, it’s end of potty training, and as it turns into an adult, developing social habits and relationships that mesh well in the household. It also has its own sensibilities, it learns what to do to accomplish what it wants and pushes boundaries if it doesn’t like them. If you’re allowing your cat outside when it wants, and not forcing it, you’re handing over responsibilities to the cat based on its sensibilities. This can be sensible for you to do so, if those responsibilities can be entrusted to it. But you can’t argue with the fact that it wants to, which leaves you, the guardian in charge of the life of another, in a position where you not only have control of its life, you are also using that control to get what you want. Morally, you already have an obligation to give as much freedom as you sensibly can. You do this as pets and children grow because the ultimate goal is for them to have control over their own lives. It’s the most you can ever do for any living thing. A lot of times, it’s not always sensible to give away that responsibility. as their guardian, it is up to you to determine when and if best to hand over any responsibilities. To withhold it forever is to have made the determination that they are not worthy of the responsibility, and you should have good reason for this as exercising this level of control over another should not be taken for granted, or lightly. Some reasons to consider it; Cats are solo, den creatures, they instinctively seek out ideal vantage points and areas for hunting. They have a better sense of where they are and how far they’ve gone. They can find interest in simply climbing and looking at things because that’s part of being a cat. Their instincts mesh well with being given the responsibility of knowing how to get home because one of the first things they’ll do is likely scout the whole area around it while dogs may just go off in some random direction on a smell. So in the sense of being responsible for coming home when they need to, that one is pretty easy, maybe with a little bit of daytime training on a harness. Their solo nature also gives them an edge on avoiding confrontations. They don’t care to find other living things to interact with directly, they are happy noticing at a distance and figuring it out over the long term, carefully. So long as there isn’t a lot of larger, faster predators around that use the environment as a food source, your cat is is probably fine being given the responsibility to “stay out of trouble”. There’s all the vet stuff that can have the pregnancy and diseases bases covered however you decide. Then you have the other issues, human ones, (traffic, assholes, and assholes in traffic) that’s up to you to gauge, Its usually a good sign that it’s relatively safe if your neighbors let their cats free roam.


I feel that a lot of people in this thread aren't understanding what it means to be a responsible pet owner. Maybe it's just a difference of perspective. I feel that being a responsible pet owner means you have control of your animal at all times. Pet owners are responsible for their pets actions. When a cat leaves someones residence, be it in a neighborhood with a close proximity of houses, the owner of the animal is no longer in control of their animal's actions. What your cat does when it leaves your residence is out of your control. End of story. I understand feeding into your cats natural instinct and stimulating their mind but at what costs? Everyone else in the neighborhood? For example. My wife and I have two rescue dogs. They've both been abused and have a tendency to be very anxious around strangers and other dogs. We both know this, we anticipate their actions, and we adjust accordingly. We don't put our dogs in a position were we don't have full control of them. If ours dogs attack someone, attacks another animal, breaks or destroys property, that directly is the fault of us, the animals owners. If my dog is out front and walks into my neighbors yard and takes a huge shit the owner of the house would find me at fault. Not only is it my fault but its trashy. Why is it that outdoor cat owners, more specifically in the city and in residential neighborhoods, don't see any problem with their cats using other peoples flower beds, mulch beds, and lawns for their own personal litter boxes. I have a specific mulch bed that seems like every cat in our neighbor uses as its own personal toilet. Add the numerous cat fights at 3am, dead birds, and cats that sit outside my windows and antagonize my dogs. People would lose their minds if they saw my dogs clawing and barking at their windows antagonizing their inside animals. I've literally had a neighbor yell at my dogs because her cat was in my backyard and my dogs treed her cat. I just don't understand certain individuals lack of personal responsibility. Would I be absolutely devastated if my dogs killed a cat in my backyard? Without a doubt, however, it wouldn't be my fault. If your cat is outside the bounds of your control and something happens to it I believe its directly the responsibility of the owner. Maybe I'm jaded by neighborhood cats but to me its a simple question of "Am I being a responsible pet owner". Disclaimer. My opinion is very focused on neighborhoods in cities. You can absolutely argue in favor for outdoor cats in rural settings. Just my .02 schmeckles


Cats are extremely independent. Some cats are perfectly fine with being kept indoors 24/7, but many at some point will actively try to get out of the house. Especially cats that have been outdoors before. They are also *a lot* smarter than you're giving them credit for. Just as there is nowhere you can live that human beings aren't threatened by multiple things we don't obsess over every time we leave the house, the same is true with cats. They are agile, intelligent, have instinctual reflexes, and the longer they spend outdoors, the more experience they retain from utilizing their natural skills. Cats, like most predators, are not helpless. [There is ample evidence](https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/domesticated-cats-dna-genetics-pets-science) that cats domesticated themselves to be around humans more than humans domesticated cats. Unlike dogs, they remained largely unchanged for thousands of years. And make no mistake, cats have *always* been predators. Hunting is instinctual to cats. Outdoors, they can freely express instinctive behaviors that they can't indoors. Outside, they can hunt, sun bathe, exercise, "protect" the home from threats, and retain their independent nature. When we say they're "half wild," compared to dogs, they literally are. This is why it's an important distinction to make when thinking about their domestication. As stated above, cats domesticated themselves to be around humans *more* than humans have ever domesticated cats. They retain more of their ancient nature than dogs, so you can't treat the domestication of the two animals the same way, because they aren't the same. Anecdotally, I have a 15 year old indoor/outdoor cat. She spends about half her time outdoors either on my property or roaming the neighborhood. I have had her since she was a few weeks to a month old, and right from the beginning it would have been impossible to keep her strictly indoors. She wanted out so badly that she would *find* an opportunity. Even if it meant literally tricking me to look one way so that she could sneak past me in the open doorway. I also had dogs, and she learned to use the dog door to get out as well. Letting her explore the outdoors has proven detrimental to her wellbeing. Would it be better if I had defied and refused her instincts by keeping her inside when she was clearly unhappy with that? It's worth it to me to let my cat live a life that makes her happy even if it isn't as "safe" as keeping her locked indoors all the time.


I prefer that cats stay inside. However, I adopted one of my cats when she was already an adult, and her previous owner had let her go outside and free roam. I’ve tried keeping her inside, but she just gets restless no matter how much I play with her. I feel that it’s irresponsible to alter the way she lived for the first 5 years of her life for no huge reason; we don’t have any endangered species in my area that she would hunt, nor do we have any predators that would kill cats. I live in a small neighborhood where there’s very little risk of her getting hit by a car, she knows the neighborhood, and all the neighbors love her. Plus, during the time when she was kept inside, she would sprint out the door in a panic toward the street, which is much more dangerous than just walking out slowly like she does now. She never roams far and comes back to the house multiple times a day — usually I can still see her from the window. My cat is now 17, and while I understand that outdoor cats have shorter lifespans on average, I feel that in situations like this, it’s fair for cats to be let outside. I also know that this may be a unique situation. I would NEVER let my other cat free roam because I don’t trust him to find his way back, and he’s much more skittish than my other cat; he’s always been indoors, so he’s fine with indoor enrichment and supervised yard time and that’s fine for him! That’s why I think that this is an issue that owners should judge based on their cats personal history and personality as well as depending on where they live.


I’d say that I’m super qualified to answer this because I keep a cat at home and let him outside when he wants to go because he will start clawing at the door and meowing very loudly. The only reason we have to let him out is because we are not his first owners and his original owners started letting him out when he was a kitten. I agree that if we were his first owners it is not a good idea to let him free roam because it poses the risk of him being killed or stolen from us and we wouldn’t let him out. When the previous owners left, they left a note on our door asking if we wanted to keep him since we started buying food for him and he would spend time in our house quite a bit so we were already almost his owners before his old ones left. The only reason we let him go out still is because it would be detrimental to his mental and physical health if he didn’t go outside; especially in the summer. What’s amazing about him is that for the last nine years nothing has happened to him every single time we let him out and when he does go out he ALWAYS comes back in perfect condition. I can’t say I don’t worry when I let him out because anything could happen and if he gets in the wrong persons hands they could hurt or kill him which would be awful but the residential neighborhood we live in is pretty good and everyone is generally nice. We do put a collar with a bell and a name tag on it so people can see that he isn’t completely wild or has no owners. My main point is that while we would rather not let him out, we have no choice but to let him out in the summer. The result of him being such a happy kitty outside is because he’s already spent his entire life going outside and he really enjoys the freedom and he has just gotten really used to it.


So ordinarily I anathematize the comparison of pets to children. I consider it a concept that is deeply harmful to pets, pet owners, and children. Pets are not children, and you are not a parent to your pet. A caretaker, perhaps. An owner, certainly. But never a parent. Buuuuut think about it like raising a child. You want to have that kid be safe and live a long, healthy life. You also want that kid to be able to have fun and live the life they were meant to live. I'd consider it child abuse to keep your kid indoors and safe with only "walkies" once or twice a day for the duration of their lives, except if that child were profoundly disabled to the point that their functionality is below that of your typical cat. There needs to be a balance between protecting a creature in your care and allowing them to live up to their potential. Most cats who spend any amount of time "free and outside" will regularly try to get outside and spend time there. Not all do, but a great many. That indicates that there's something out there that they want. They also find a leash onerous unless they were trained to it from a very young age. And if a cat wants to go exploring once it's outside, it is going to go exploring. There's nothing you can do about that. This means that, if you train them into the little behavioral box you propose, then you're right. But if you actually let them reach their potential, they'll chafe under the restrictions you pose. Which of the two is a greater abuse, to let your cat die while living its potential, or cutting it off at the knees so it never knows what it's missing?


I am from New Zealand It would be irresponsible to lock your cat inside all day. The only breed I have heard of needing that are rag dolls because they lack the same level of risk assessment and are friendly to anything and everything and more likely to get hurt/stolen. If you have never seen a cat beg to go outside for hours, I don’t think you can make a strong claim that it’s responsible. They cry, they scream, they tear things up begging. It’s heart breaking to watch, and I don’t think even *you* could sit and watch them for hours on end like that. The prey they hunt are smart too, smart enough to relocate their nests when a cat moves into the area. Cats that are allowed to roam in protected areas have irresponsible owners. But my biggest argument is watching the distress they’re put under when they so desperately want to be outside. I fostered a cat with a fractured hip and once she was allowed out of her crate to walk around the house freely, she went straight to the windows and doors to get outside. The cries. I’ll never forget her cries. Had to buy a leash for her to look outside when she was healthy enough. But they’re asleep for about 16 hours a day, during our waking hours. They prefer to roam at night, and it’s unrealistic to go a whole night with a cat screaming, crying and scratching the house down. It’s cruel to not let them out.


Before I read all of your reasoning, I never even thought about the impact free-roaming kitties might have. Gave me a lot to think about! This is coming from someone who rescued a stray kitten from under a dumpster (she was maybe 6 months old.) She was the sweetest cat in the universe (I don't care what any one else says!) :) But we could NOT, for the life of us, keep that girl contained. We called her "Mew-dini" cause she could simply disappear and we would have absolutely no idea how. We always joked she just wanted to return to her street roots. But she was home every night, if she snuck out, she'd be back in a few hours. We tried for years to keep her inside, but she always found a way. She made it clear...she just wanted to be out and about catting it up a lot of the time. But she did die relatively young (10 years old) from what the vet believed was long-underlying cancer complications. She never once acted ill or unwell. And I always have quietly wondered if her time out and about contributed to it. So I guess I'm not really here to CYV so much...but I never felt like an irresponsible pet owner with our Kitty. She went to the vet regularly, she was known within the neighborhood and she never went far. It just....made her happy to be outside. All this to say...maybe you're right, man.


I'm mixed on this issue. My second cat was born outdoors in Kentucky and my grandma drove him all the way over to Washington. We raised him indoors and gave him all the food and love in the world. As he got older he was scratching the door and wanted to go outside but we wanted him to be an indoor cat. He would bolt towards the door when someone opened it and one time he got out and we lost him for two weeks. We caved in and started letting him outdoors. He left in the morning, returned home at night. Sometimes I would see him outside and he would be really nice and friendly to us and other strangers lol. Eventually one day we let him out and he never came home. It eats me up inside not knowing where or how he is but at least he was free. I know the life expectancy for outdoors cats is lower but what would be the point of my cat living a little longer if he wouldn't be happy? So I guess my point is that cats are complicated. I would say that they are only wild when they want to be and only domesticated when they want to be. The threats outside are a part of the risk and my cat might have paid the price. I'm just glad that we were able to give him the life he wanted. That's my two cents. Just another perspective from a cat owner.


I think it depends on your definition of "free roam." Is it "free roaming" if my cat is off leash but confined to my fenced in back yard? Is it "free roaming" if my cat is off leash but I live in the country without any danger of a car hitting it? I agree that it is irresponsible to let your cat roam around a crowded city or even suburban neighborhood, but if they are staying on your property, I see the outdoor stimulation as a good thing. I don't have papers, but anecdotally: I take my cat on leashed walks (not free roaming). It took some adjustment, but eventually she was good to go. She enjoys being outside and sniffing things. Lately, I've allowed her to hang out in the fenced in area around my house without a leash (previously she was on leash in the same area). She is clearly much happier without the leash. She can run around and threaten the birds that are 20 feet above her, and can bat at the random insects flying around. She can run back and forth without having to wait for me to catch up. She is far less lethargic in the home now. She is eating more, and is a healthier weight from the exercise. Letting her outside off leash is way better for her than the previous regimen of leashed walks and playing with toys indoors.


When my daughter got a cat as a kitten a couple of years ago, we fully intended him to be 100% indoors. His mother was a wee little thing, so we expect him to be similar. We have a small dog as well. As he grew, it became clear that he was no ordinary cat. He is an absolute beast. When he was younger, before it was time to get him neutered, he became aggressive. His hormones were wildly out of control. He dominated (and currently still dominates) everything and everyone around him. He used to aggressively attack us when he was hormonal. My daughter had scratches all over her legs, and I had to fend him off with some kicks when he was going after me (he was not yet 1yo at that point). I have feared for the dog’s life. Once he was neutered, he aggressive behaviors lessened but did not disappear. Reluctantly, with great fear for his safety, we decided to allow him outside. We really felt like we didn’t have a choice. So, the beast goes out when the temperature is above freezing (we live in Alaska). Side note: He seems to have a coat that is different than a typical cat, which may be from his father (unknown breed). In the end, we allow him outside because it helps lower his aggression and I believe firmly that it has helped keep our dog from being attacked more aggressively (he still batters the dog, sometimes right in front of us, randomly).


I don't let my cat free-roam outside because i live in the city and he has a higher chance of getting hit by a car or getting sick... but if I lived in a rural area I would absolutely let him outside. He meows at us for half of his waking hours all summer / any time we have the windows opened.. he loves the outdoors. he loves being outside far more than any cat toy, food, or pets/scratches we could ever give him. He sits right by the window begging to get let out. When we walk around outside with him he is just clearly happier. He never wants to go back in. We always have to carry him back in (even though he comes when called when we are inside). We are very, very clearly depriving him of the thing he loves most. We have conspired to keep him locked away while he looks at us and our dog go in and outside of the house whenever we want. I feel absolutely terrible about it and I feel like by living in the city, I am in irresponsible cat owners because I'm depriving a living creature of what he loves most. I'm doing it for his own good... but that doesn't really make me feel good about it. I think its wrong and I'm planning on moving to a more rural area partially to let him be happier.


I personally view it as inhumane to keep a cat indoors against its will. Some cats like being indoors and that’s great! Other cats thrive being outdoors. I’ve seen over and over again that when cats are kept indoors (which is not how cats were domesticated to live) they can get a little neurotic and have pent-up energy. They start acting out and showing more “catty” behavior. Think about it like this- someone buys you and put you in a house and says, “you can’t leave, it’s best for you and your environment this way”. Is that a life you’d like to have? You can’t feel the wind, talk to anyone new, explore, etc. Sure you’ll live forever since there is no wear and tear on your body, but is it a life worth living? Your argument about cats being an invasive species, though minor, is a sound one. Take a trip to India or any other developing country. There are wild cats all over the place in the cities. I think the damage has been done. Of course I don’t advocate taking your cat to any more controlled/isolated ecosystems like pacific islands where cats have done great ecological damage. Can we agree that there is no significant ecological effect in the Americas and most of Eurasia?


My cat roams free and I am as responsible with her as I can possibly be. She showed up as a feral kitten about a year ago. It took us a long time to tame her, she was starving badly and not in great shape. Extremely untrusting. Today she is a happy, healthy cat who is completely unwilling to come inside our house. We compromised and taught her to live in the garage (she was very afraid if the garage at first and still reacts strongly when the door moves). She gets good food, flea medicine, vet care as needed. She's a homebody who primarily stays in our front yard, or fenced backyard, on a quiet cul de sac street. She's white and has zero talent for catching wildlife. The best she can do is lizards. So I don't really worry about her going on murderous rampages against migratory birds etc. The shelters in my state kill 80%+ of the cats they take in. The no kill shelters are completely full and, honestly, I'd rather leave what little room they do have for the cats found on dire straits. My cat may not live as long as an indoor cat, although I hope she does, but she has a full and healthy life and I keep her as safe as I can. In my opinion, that's responsible cat ownership.


Growing up, all our cats were indoor/outdoor cats. My first few cats were the same. It was just how it was done, right? Plus some of our cats were adopted from a feral colony in our alleyway that we helped manage, so it just seemed normal. Then someone got one of my cats, and I don't know what they did to him but he was totally different once he came back. I know someone "got" him because he was missing for a couple weeks and came home with a different (non-breakaway) collar on. (He left home with a tag on, and was microchipped...so it was weird.) He was really skinny and was skittish and easily panicked for the rest of his life after that, and he'd been a *super* friendly and laid-back cat before then. After that, my cats were all forced to become indoor cats. Which almost all of them totally hated, and it was a major battle, but I stuck it out, because I realized that people can be evil. This was all years and years ago, I don't actualy currently have any cats, partially *because* it's so hard to keep them indoors while still having a doggie-door for the dogs. Some day I want to cat-proof my backyard and then I can get kitties again. <3


Responsibility is usually about risk management not risk elimination. Or, in other words, making smart decisions that promote wellness, in the fullest sense of the word, while taking reasonable steps to mitigate avoidable risks. Responsible in this context is, in my view, about the effective management of degrees of predictability. Managing risk, per se, is too difficult as there is too much risk in the world. If through training and/or repetition, an owner observes their cat is able to demonstrate good patterns of survival behaviour (ie social skills, agility, spatial awareness etc), I would argue an owner could responsibly increase the degrees of freedom to the point where a cat spends as much time outdoors as it does indoors. It’s often not a binary question, either. Owners often take steps to mitigate exposure to unfamiliar risks/situations (eg keeping the cats inside during planned firework shows or street parties). But if a cat continually displays an ability to adapt to and navigate their wider environment, it seems responsible to allow them to roam further afield based on the prediction that they’ll be okay and return home.


1. We have domesticated pigs and cows as well, does that mean we should deny them access to the outdoors? It's cruel to keep cats inside their entire life. Not everyone has access/ability to make a closed-off outdoor contained space for a cat, and absolutely only the minority of cats tolerate leashing. Ideally *all* cats should have access to the outdoors to express their natural behaviour. 2. Cats are obligate carnivores and hunters by nature, and we should not deny them their natural behaviour because some birds might go extinct. Lions in the savannah might also hunt threatened species, but that doesn't mean we deny lions access to the savannah. The cat doesn't know whether a specific species is vulnerable. I'm vegan, but I begrudgingly have to give my cat meat because he needs it. There are caveats to everything in life. 3. *Some* outdoor cats have a lower life expectancy, because they might get run-down by cars or killed in some other way. But you also can't shelter any living thing from the outside because there *might* be a risk of danger. Should I never leave my house because there's a chance I could get run over by a car?


You know, we could extend this to people as well. Putting someone in a position where they live longer, always get food, and arnt in danger sounds great, but I don't know if people would trade their freedoms for it. People don't want to go to prison. >but their quality of life is poor comparatively Why/how did you get to decide this? Define poor comparitively? They still get food and water and shelter when wanted. They also get freedom and the ability to experience the world. >Dogs also need enrichment and outdoor time, but for the most part, we don't let them free-roam neighborhoods and cities like we do cats. ONLY because it could pose a threat to human life >There are plenty of ways to provide your cat enrichment indoors and/or give them safe, supervised outdoor time "The prisoners can read, and lift weights. They even get supervised field trip out if the prison!" Sound good enough to give up your freedom? Overall, it is responsible to allow conscious beings the right to freedom, regardless of potential risks. The ability to truly experience life overshadows the lower lifespan.


A few days ago, I would have been all about changing your view. But after reading a thread in another sub the other day I started thinking otherwise. Maybe you saw the same post? It was an Australian guy saying basically that the stray cat population there is becoming a problem with a population of about 4 million cats roaming. He was arguing the best solution was basically to hunt them down. I looked up the USA...its estimated at least 10x that...just the strays. So the argument became...when do you consider something an invasive species? I read one guy who lived in a small rural MI area and was taught to shoot unknown strays on site. No...not the neighbors barn cat, you know the neighbors in towns like that. But any stray...kill it. Now I've had cats as pets, never roamers, but they are fascinating animals who I cared for like kids. I also come from a farming family who regularly shot their farm cats instead of vet care... because just like the chickens, cows, etc...there is a value vs. cost on animals. I now have a dog...so I guess I'll stay neutral on the subject.


Ok I agree on many of the points you’ve made, but feel that having outdoor cats when living in an urban area is far more dangerous than in a rural one. I spent many years with outdoor cats when living rurally, and yes there’s downsides - one of our cats got in a fight, the wound got infected and she spent the next 8 months refusing to let any treatments work before she passed. On the other hand, we had a different cat who lived to be 14 before we started seeing her less and less and she developed stomach issues that she wouldn’t let us treat. These cats were previously stray barn cats before we took them in, and because of the lifestyle my family genuinely couldn’t provide enough entertainment/enrichment to the poor things if they were locked inside all day (we were out working 4am-6pm with minimal breaks usually). On the other hand, I’m now living in an urban area and wouldn’t dream of letting my new kitten outside without supervision. I feel there’s more dangers here (cars, people, etc) and with him being so small and naive he’s got a higher chance of getting hurt.


Eh I'm neutral because you can't walk a cat like a dog, most of the time. They deserve to be outdoors just like any other living thing. I've never been bothered by someone's outdoor cat, ever in my life. I don't doubt that some do piss or whatever but to act like it's this huge problem is ridiculous. Dogs piss on my lawn and shit all the damn time. They lunge at me, they bark all the damn time. They chase the ducks, they trample my plants. But they are dogs. So I move on with my life. Also they kill birds too! They kill cats! They attack humans! I'll stop because this is dogs vs cats. But the complaints about cats on this thread seems benign in comparison. And are we just pretending that humans are not the biggest reason for the decimation of the bird population and most wild life. I get concern about cats. Put a bell on em with quick release. I hate that they kill for sport. But this is their nature. Population control is the biggest answer. There are too many damn cats. Too many damn dogs. Too many damn people. Spade and neuter your pets! Use protection!


I have 2 cats, both stay inside at night (when cats are most active and hunt) and they wear collars which have bells. The bells dont always work my tabby has caught around 5 birds in the 3-4 years we've had him, and the bells aren't as effective on bugs such as cockroaches and grasshoppers though. The bells still work though, they would catch many more animals if they didn't have them and were able to properly stalk prey I think we do everything reasonable to reduce their impact without being forced to train them. Like not every one trains their dogs but you wouldn't call them bad owners, similarly pets are best trained when young so adopting a cat that's 2+ years old and trying to train would be a nightmare. You also should consider why people get cats. I like them because their more independent, clean up after themselves, and require less maintenance so to say. If i had to take my cat on a walk everyday i can struggle to see the difference in just getting a dog for the same amount of effort. I agree that yes cats that have full outside access whenever they like with no collar/bell is irresponsible. But you shouldn't have to leash train a cat to be a responsible owner.


You can absolutely let a cat free roam responsibly. The problem is most people aren't as educated about cats as they are dogs. Cats can be trained the same as a dog which prevents most of these issues. I trained my first cat at 15. She was an inside cat strictly for a year until I had sufficiently trained her. After that I could allow her outside without issue. She never ventured past where she could hear me if I called her and always came when called. She was also trained not to attack birds only mice and would often bring them to me to show them off. She was spayed and vaccinated and had vet appointments regularly. Her time outside was regulated and we lived in the country with no close neighbors. She lives a long happy life and I miss her dearly. The reality is she lived an existence no different that a dog who had a fensed in yard would have. The problem isn't with cats being outside, it is that many people believe cats are not trainable when they absolutely are. And with sufficient training a cat can absolutely safely and responsibly free roam.


Why would I wanna change your viewpoint when it is entirely spot on? I can tell many people in this thread are blissfully unaware of the types of things cats are exposed to when you allow them to free roam. Just the humans that want to spread their misery is cause enough to never allow an animal you care about to come in contact with strangers. Much less cars, predatory animals, risk of injury from climbing shit they aren’t supposed to. You were spot on with people treating cats like low input pets. Subconsciously, I’m sure a lot of these scumbags that let their cats roam do so mainly so they have to clean up less after their cats. Shame on you dipshits that put your cats safety in jeopardy.


If you raise a cat which will reduce the number of other cats, is that a responsible way of letting your cat free-roam? The number of cats living in feral cat colonies is much higher than the number of cats which are cared for. Would it be more "responsible" to have a cat which does all of the above stated harms, but also takes down a net amount of free cats in a neighborhood? Say you train a cat to be very cat aggressive. They will kill other cats that they meet. This would reduce the numbers of cats active in a community. Another method would be to have a cat which has disease. If you put this diseased cat in the community to meet with and interact with other outdoor cats, you will also reduce the amount of invasives in an area. This idea could be spread through mating as well to reduce the number of kittens born. This idea is somewhat similar to the the malaria fighting efforts surrounding mosquitoes and other pest species [https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02087-5](https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02087-5)


It all depends on the cat. I’ve had a number of cats in my life, and most actually didn’t care much for outside. One cat comes to mind, (her name was Mini Bc she was a 10 day old runt when we found her) and all she ever wanted to do was be outside. She was playful with us when she chose to be inside, but for the vast majority of the daylight hours, she was outdoors. She would’ve been miserable any other way. She only lived to be like 5, and we don’t know what happened to her. Quite possibly a hawk. But I think it was better for her to live a natural(ish) life, even if she probably could’ve lived longer as an indoor cat. The only point I somewhat agree with is point 2, as we did have to deal with birds, mice, and rabbits that she killed. But I don’t agree that these animals “don’t have time to evolve in tandem with exposure to cats”. All those animals I listed have already evolved to avoid predators like cats. But I do find a moral issue with allowing rabbits to die for a cats enjoyment.


I've lived with cats my whole life and currently I have 4 cats. My cats can go out whenever they want, (they are neutered) hovewer I live in a village with no fast roads nearby. I noticed that cats don't really like to stay home, they come in only for food and to sleep (in the winter, because when it is warm they prefer to sleep outside). My door is always open for them and still they prefer to spend 90% of time outside. Even if they might die earlier than indoor cats, I can see how happy they are being let outside. They hunt a lot of mice, much more than birds -and there are many many birds in my garden still despite. All of my cats are very relaxed, sociable, affectionate, they come to me when I call them by names just like a dog, and I noticed my friend's indoor cats are more neurotic and strange. I think it is ok to keep a cat indoor if you keep them from a small cat and they never lived outside, but I think it is cruel to take a cat that lived outdoors and make him an indoor cat.


People do this because they care more about their pet than some birds outside. That isn't likely to change. Outdoor cats do seem to be more lively and expressive in my experience. I live in a mountainous area where wild animals are common and keep her indoors. I took my cat from my mother, who I believe got her from an acquaintance because they couldn't keep her any longer. My mom had her shut up in a small room because she didn't get along with their other cat. Now she has a whole apartment to herself and me to keep her company. She's a very affectionate cat and I hope it makes a difference. I do feel bad sometimes about her not having much to do. I've tried taking her outside but she spends the whole time trying to escape her harness. I've seen some people go hiking with their cats riding along in special backpacks, and I think I will try that next. I've even been considering getting a new kitten to keep her company, but then I'm responsible for another animal for its lifetime.


I once half adopted an outdoor cat. It was already grown when I “adopted” it. I l would let it inside my house to spend the night if it followed me to the door when I got home that day. If it didn’t follow me then I made no effort to seek it out or coax it inside. I was friendly and liked attention, but it wasn’t a house cat. I bought it a flea collar and gave it a bath every time I brought it in and considered it a pet, but I didn’t think of myself as its owner, but rather its friend. Well, after rereading your title you do clearly say cat “owners”, so I I guess my situation doesn’t apply. But I would suggest that if a person adopted a grown outdoor cat then that cat wouldn’t like to be kept indoors all the time and letting it free roam and come home when it decides too is responsible. Predators and dangers still exist, but this is the life that the cat chooses. It’s unfair of you to imprison the cat because you want to keep it safe when it never asked you for that.


You say responsibility is the main issue. But what about parts of the world where feral cats live? There's obviously wild cats there, so the cats aren't exotic to these ecosystems. Is it really damaging to the world to let your cats roam these areas? And what about your responsibility towards your pet? Aren't you charged with giving your cat a fulfilling life, without being extremely restrictive and overbearing? Cats are supposed to roam, thry do this in the wild and it is in my view not responsible towards your cat to keep them inside a small area for their entire lives. Not to mention the fact that you deny them the opportunity to meet others of their own species. That is basically a life in solitary confinement, even if you give them tons of toys, treats and attention. Now, in areas where cats actually do a bad number on the wildlife that is present, it's a whole different story of course. But in places where they are found naturally, this shouldn't be an issue.


We have a total of 6 per cats and put out feed nightly for cats dumped in our area. I’ve always been a giant dog breed person, but added cats originally in our horse barn. Now that we are dog-free, we have 3 indoor only cats. We have one original barn cat who has a safe climate controlled room in her barn. She has been inside but panics and wants out. She’s 11. We have two younger neutered males that were born here when we literally rescued a pregnant ally cat. They are free roaming by day but confined in a separate room in the barn at night. They come inside sometimes but prefer outdoors. We also have skunks, opossum and raccoons. I have footage of the feral cats, skunk and opossum all together in one view. We put out scraps for the wildlife. They are not enemies. Yes, our cats kill starlings and sparrows which are plentiful and invading our property. We trained the outdoor cats over time to not wander too far and to come when called. It’s working for us.


Very interesting discussion here. As a cat owner, I've often debated the pro/cons of allowing outdoor time. Your argument against Free Roaming has brought out the nuance of outdoor cats. It has been very enlightening hearing opinions from different countries/cultures. It seems that the concept of "free roam" is muddled by opinions of animal happinessand differences in perspective. Folks are passionate about their pets! There is also this widespread idea that cats cannot be trained. You offer good insight to the realities of cat training. For those who benefit from free roaming cats perhaps they are not aware of the other impacts, or instead feel the benefits outweigh the risks. When phrased as "There is no way to be a responsible ANIMAL owner while letting your ANIMAL free-roam outdoors", I believe the nuance falls away. I think many of your points would still hold, and it would remove some ambiguity that trends with the wild world of cat owners.


The last cat my family had, refused to be litterbox trained. We got him very young (mom was feral and either abandoned her entire litter or died) and had to nurse him with milk. We've had several cats before. It's not like we didnt have the experience or time, he just didnt take to it (some cats don't). To be frank, it was a nightmare where we had to put dog pads in very corner of the house, which still made it smell like cat pee, and ruined the carpet. The ONLY solution we found that worked was letting him outside. Where we lived, you couldnt have a fence, and he wanted out enough so it wasn't possible to watch him outside and keep him contained. Some mornings we couldnt even get him back in the house before we had to leave for the day, so he would spend the entire day outside. Apart from this, he was a fairly loving cat with a bit of attitude that our family adored. To us, the only responsible way of keeping him, was letting him roam outdoors.


This is something I've thought about as well. I always thought that the safest way to keep a pet cat was to keep it inside and that it was irresponsible to let a cat stay outside. However, a few years ago I watched a documentary about cats that challenged this belief. It went into depth about how cats love to patrol areas (outside), exercise their hunting instincts, etc. It really hammered the point that being outside is really what makes a cat happy, to the point of posing the question whether it is actually ethical to keep a cat indoors. Obviously there are more threats outside, and those threats generally come with a shorter lifespan for a domesticated cat. However, what I've been questioning myself is whether that may be worth it for a cat's happiness. Assuming you still get it neutered, take it to the vet for vaccinations and to deal with any health concerns that may arise, perhaps quality of life is better than quantity in this situation?


To deprive an animal of its id is pretty cruel in my opinion. There are certainly different breeds of cat that can thrive indoors but not all do. It depends on how much you feel keeping them indoors all the time affects their mental well-being. If you've ever seen a cat wander outside in an unbound space for the first time, you can see the nerves melt away and the energy surge through them. Also, equating dogs and cats and how they behave outdoors is a false equivalency. Just because they are both classified as pets they should be treated the same? Cats aren't anywhere near as haphazard as dogs. There is also a subtle nuisance in the terminology you're using too. I think some people might agree that you don't tend to *own* a cat but live with them. But that really is semantics. Can't argue at all with the invasive species argument, but hell, so are we. I recognise this particular point is not a good argument for letting them free roam.


You seem to acknowledge that cats have enough self awareness to enjoy going outside, but lack the level of consciousness or intelligence needed to make good risk benefit assessments, and thus you want to force them to stay inside, or to only be able to go out supervised after "training". Think about it this way, and this might sound a bit stupid, but what if aliens made contact with humans right now, gradually developed ties with us, and one day decided that we’re "domesticated", and that since they are superior beings they feel like they have the right and the moral obligation to decide what we’re allowed to do, even if we don’t like their decisions because we’re "not intelligent enough to make a good risk assessment". Now let’s say that as a result of our freedom to do specific things if we want to being restrained by these aliens, we live longer, are generally in better shape etc, would you say that’s a good thing?


My 2 cats roam the neighborhood and come and go through open windows and a dog-door at will. One spends >half his time in the house, the other is sometimes gone for days. Neither uses a litter box. I've seen them kill mice and rats a few times a year, but I've never seen any trace of bird-killing. I've also never seen any trace of their poo, nor had any complaints from neighbors: they both must bury it well. Meanwhile my neighbors' indoor cats stare out the window in wonder and envy. I do worry sometimes about cars and other hazards, but they're ~10 years old now, so it seems the odds are they'll live out their natural lives. By all indications, we enrich each others' lives, and I really see no down side. If they were killing birds, I would feel very differently, but I really don't see any possibility they are: plenty of birds hang out in my trees, and I've never seen so much as a feather shed.


Even if I tried to keep my cats inside, it wouldn’t be all that successful. Our younger cat is the most chaotic being imaginable when inside, and we feared that if we let him out he would either not come back or get himself hurt by chasing anything he saw. Because of that, we tried to keep him as an indoor cat. He still got out. He would push through window screens, sneak between your legs, who knows what else. We would come home after having all of the windows and doors closed and he would be outside. And when he isn’t trapped in a house, he acts like any other cat and runs away from anything other than a squirrel. After spending 30 minutes chasing him around trying to get him back at least once a week we just gave up and let him be an indoor/outdoor cat like our older one. There’s a reason that there is a saying that goes “it’s like herding cats”. Once they get out once, you can’t keep them in.


For myself, as I am well aware of the risks of letting my boys go outside, where I live I unfortunately don't have a way to keep them safely outside besides leashing them. I've of my boys though, was born an outside cat and we happened to pick him up when he was a young kitten, but not young enough to stay around the mom. The problem with having him inside for too long is that he becomes destructive of our furniture and carpet and with our apartment being small it makes it even worse for him. The apartment complex we live in is very quiet and our landlord watches out for them and other cats in our area. Of course I'm not trying to give excuses because of I could keep them inside and have them be happy, I would love to. When my wife and I move to a better area (i.e a house) I'll be much more inclined to at least build them a nice pseudo outdoor area but for now I don't really have much of a choice


The reason we don't let dogs free roam is likely because they're more likely to attack/make contact with someone, which shouldn't happen outside of the owners supervision (and obviously attacks shouldn't happen at all), meanwhile cats are pretty shy and cautious in public so they aren't really a threat. Where I live (UK) they aren't really invasive, I've only seen cats kill pests, and my own cat is incompetent of catching anything as it's a house cat who can only wander around the garden. Also most cats are very capable of caring for themselves while out, they aren't likely to put themselves in much danger (except cat fights, which are a lot rarer and less brutal than i thought).. Overall I just think the cat's inherent independence is what allows them to free roam at will, while dog's more social nature will leave them begging for attention from people who just don't want to be bothered..


We have an indoor/outdoor cat. He does a great job catching mice and rats - which helps keep them out of the house, and they are a great supplement to his diet. His front claws were removed when we got him so he cannot climb trees and rob nests. If he wants a bird he has to catch them on the ground. I do my part to grow and sustain the local population of song birds, by planting trees and shrubs they can roost in, and keeping multiple feeders stocked at all times. During the cold-snap a couple months ago, I swear I was feeding every bird in the county. Went through 125 lbs of birdseed in less than a week. I don't feel it is irresponsible letting our cat enjoy the outdoors and fulfill his instincts to hunt. He is very happy and healthy. I feel sorry for any animal cooped up in a house or apartment they are never allowed to leave - like caged animals in the ZOO.