The age old debate about letting your cat out

Mer.kitten

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So i follow a youtube channel called Lex & Cinnabon. Lex is a single guy in his 20s who lives in Michigan in his own home in the country. A couple years ago he noticed an orange cat on his property sometimes that looked a bit thin. He asked around and no one said it was their cat, he put out food for it but couldmnt get close, it would run. Winter came and he built the cat a little house on his back deck to keep warm. Then, finally one day the kitty took a few hesitant steps in his home and allowed Lex to pet him. From there things improved greatly. Btw, in early videos Lex said he didnt mind feeding amd helping him out but that he "wasnt a cat person".

So the cat came more, got more friendly, then one day Lex left him in his home alone the first time for a few hours, a few weeks later he kept the kitty in overnight, he started giving itvwet food daily not just dry, took it to the vet for its shots ect.

As of today the cat spends more time inside than out, and is officially Lex's kitty Cinnabon-Lex takes care of food, vet cate, if he ever moved he'd take Cinnabon, Cinnabon spends the night a lot ect.

Should be all great, right? Well it is-however, especially now that its very cold, Lex keeps getting lectured in the comments, sometimes strongly, to "just keep him in. Make him an indoor kitty. You are taking a chance letting him out-he could get attacked by an animal, get sick ect. Lex, you need to keep him in!

Lex's position is look-he was semi wild when i got him. He enjoys going out side and will paw at the door and cry if i dont let him out. Im not interested in being his jailor-he is free to come and go as he pleases."

Which always gets the pushback thst "hes a cat. You need to think for him, the same way you wouldnt let a five year old out to play in the snow in jeans znd a tshirt. Youre the owner, youre the boss. Insist he stay in!"

And its like.. i get both sides. I grew up in the country in Maine. We had at leazdx t 6-7 cats during my childhood and all were allowed to come and go as they pleased. We lost a kitten, tragically, that had crawled up into the engine of our car (Belvedere. RIP. It was horrible), but we never had a cat go into the woods one day and just not come back. All my childhood cats died of old age. Of course i understand that just bc it didnt happen to my cats doesnt mean it cant happen.

So its like... is life worth living with no risk? We act like we dont take a risk everytime we hop in the car to go to the store. We could get in a wreck. Someone could have a disease and we catch it. There could be an active shooter. But we leave our homes anyway because the alternative is unthinkable.

Is it fair to apply that to cats?

I remember watching my childhood cat Susie playing in our yard, climbing trrees, having so much fun, bringing home mice ect. And every year, until she got older deep in the middle of summer when it was 80 in the daytime and 70 at night, she would disappear for 4-5 days. Of course we would worty, especially the first few times. My mom would call her but she wouldnt come. A few days later she'd stroll up the driveway, come in, gobble some food, and sleep for half a day. After the first few times we realized she was just going on an adventure. I picture her deep in the soods, climbing trees, drinking from streams, killing mice for food, and just living as a true wild cat for a few days, and im so happy she had that opportunity. She did it probably 7 years in a row, then around age ten she just stopped. She lived to a ripe old age and led a full, loved life. She slept on my bed every night.

Would it jave been fair, after the first time she took her little trip, to keep her as an indoor kitty, to avoid any risk at all of harm? I dont think so. I was just a kid, but i feel my mom did the right thing.

In the city or burbs its different, but the country? Thats more complicated.

If youve read this far, what are your thoughts? Is it irresponsible to let an animal out in the country knowing there are risks? Or is it cruel to keep in an animal who's pawing at the door and desperately wants outside, so you keep them safe?

The first vid of Lex and Cinnabon i saw, where Cinnabon comes inside for the first time-its how a lot of people foubd his channel bc it went semi-viral.


The latest Lex & Cinnabon vid

 
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jefferd18

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This is a tough debate and both sides have valid points.

When I was little I insisted to one of our cats that she go outside because my mother was having a fit about her being in all the time. My mother grew up with outdoor/indoor cats and didn't think it was healthy for them to be cooped up inside, so I forced the kitty outdoors. I found her one day later, her lifeless body curled up under my neighbors porch, the victim of being run over. I have never forced a cat outside again.

Then I met Jeff seven years ago and my ideas on cats going outside changed dramatically. Jeff was a feral that I befriended and after persistent coaxing by me she eventually came into my home to sleep at nights, especially cold nights. If I insisted that she stay in, she would proceed to claw my front door to pieces. She was just not a happy camper staying in all the time.

Long story short, you just can't force a cat to live in or outdoors.
 
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Mer.kitten

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Oh my god, im so sorry about your kitty. Hugs to you :redheartpump::redheartpump:

I feel like some cats are easygoing, some arent. Some might adjust to being kept in, others never will. I definitely dont think its a cut and dried thing where one answer is always right.
 

fionasmom

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Definitely not cut and dried, and it does not come down to whether or not you live in the country or city really. Alice, my avatar, is a feral who is very friendly to me, so of course I am attempting, for the last year, to make her an indoor only cat. So far, it has not worked. In cold weather she will stay inside for a little longer, but eventually, as jefferd18 jefferd18 said, she is hanging from the door handle crying. I am still trying, but I think we are at a stalemate that will never end.

It is definitely easier to tell a 5 year old child what to do.
 

Katie M

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Having lost two childhood cats to the outdoors, I'm all for keeping them in. Even if I didn't live in a second floor apartment, I wouldn't even let them out into the yard. I have a big window, though-they're free to watch the world in safety and comfort.
 

jefferd18

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I had too many flat kitties when I was younger. I keep them inside now. They get along just fine indoors.

I sadly can relate. I remember finding my collies lying on the side of a road when a friend and I walked home from school. Words couldn't possibly describe the feeling of sick dread that I felt as I got closer to her body.
 

Willow's Mom

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After Wombat got hit by a car, I kept them inside. Willow had literally never been in a house before I brought her home and she isn't thrilled about it, but the no kill shelters were full, the caregiver was overwhelmed, and there weren't that many homes available.

I try to take her hiking on a leash and harness twice a week and she has a bubble backpack for around town. She goes with me pretty much everywhere my dogs do.
 

Tik cat's mum

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When I was young we had indoor outdoor cat's. Unfortunately I lost two cat's to cars but this is a difficult question still. Were I live is very near main roads and industrial units so the cat stays indoors only. My brother is always saying cat's need to be outside for exercise and that's what cat's do. I think it depends where you live and risk to the cat from cars animal's and such. I selfishly don't want to take the risk.
 

Maria Bayote

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When I was a kid one of my indoor/outdoor cats was ran over by a car, and she died in front of me. I can still recall until now how her body jerked and died, which somehow traumatized me and caused me not to care for any cats for many years.

Another childhood cat just suddenly did not come home. I refuse to think he also faced the same fate as his mother. But I still wonder about him.

Now all my cats (except Graham who was given by a local lady) were rescued off of the streets. Barley settled in well and has not shown any more interest in the outdoors. I guess he had a very rough life and does not want to get back there.

Pepsi was picked by my daughter as a kitten off the street - abandoned by his mama cat. Once in a while he attempts to break free, but mostly he just wants to sleep inside. When he is out he is on a leash. In the Philippines we live in a gated subdivision and away from the main highway, but still cars are running inside. So we need to make sure he is safe.

Bourbon is a different story. Until now she scratches the windows, the doors, anything to make me allow her to get her out of the house. But I refuse to do so. My husband built a catio for her and the others so she can enjoy a teeny bit of the outdoors, but that's it. I also take her out for a walk once or twice a week on a leash, for 15 minutes to half an hour, sometimes longer. But I cannot let her out on her free will. It is not worth it. Too many dangers outside, and the cons outweigh the benefits.
 

Kat0121

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There is no way I would ever let my cats out unsupervised. IMO they do not "need" to go outside and they really don't want to. They must remember what it was like to live out there and are not eager to do it again. They go out in the screened in porch sometimes when I am home. They do like that but don't stay out long. The birds and squirrels yell at them and then they want back in.

*I am not telling anyone else what to do. The decision on what's best for our pets is up to each of us individually.*
 

Neko-chan's mama

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As a very young child, the cats we "had" were outdoor semi-feral that my mom fed. When I was a teenager,we got a tiny 5 week old kitten and she would go out in the back yard to romp with the dog. Even after the dog passed away, she insisted on outdoor rime, she liked chasing the bugs and climbing the tree. But she never left the back yard and we lived in a sleepy town. My current cat is inside only. We live in an urban area so it's not safe outside. I think most cats like going out, but I do think they should only go out on a leash or a catio/screened porch. However, I would never bad mouth someone for doing different, especially with a former stray/feral.
 

Jem

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I'm a "keep them in" cat person. The only exception is if you have an outdoor enclosure or if you take them on a leash. And it's not just for their safety against predators, bad people and cars, it's also simply being a good neighbor.
My indoor cats get upset when another cat encroaches on their territory. I don't like finding my flower beds being used as litter boxes. I hate when cats pee and spray around my yard, and yes even neutered/spayed cats will mark. So why would I be hypocritical and allow my cats to torment another persons indoor cat or crap in my neighbors flowerbeds or pee near their windows and doors?
They have leash laws for dogs, the domesticated canine. Why not leash laws for cats, the DOMESTICATED feline.
Obviously cats from feral colonies and strays will roam, but if you have a cat, keep it IN, unless like I mentioned, you are able to keep it contained to YOUR property ONLY, and safe from all the bad.

There is always the exception to the rule when dealing with a feral that you are trying to tame. And I would not expect that someone who is caring for an entire colony, take them all into their home. But the notion that "cats need to have freedom" is hogwash IMO. I honestly believe that if we as a society respected cats in the same manner as we do dogs. And they weren't seen as disposable. This controversy would no longer be. We take the time to walk our dogs, we keep them in our yards to they can play outside. Why can't that also be applied to cats? Cats can still have safe outdoor experiences, we are just not willing to put the effort into out cats like we do dogs.
 

Maria Bayote

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I'm a "keep them in" cat person. The only exception is if you have an outdoor enclosure or if you take them on a leash. And it's not just for their safety against predators, bad people and cars, it's also simply being a good neighbor.
My indoor cats get upset when another cat encroaches on their territory. I don't like finding my flower beds being used as litter boxes. I hate when cats pee and spray around my yard, and yes even neutered/spayed cats will mark. So why would I be hypocritical and allow my cats to torment another persons indoor cat or crap in my neighbors flowerbeds or pee near their windows and doors?
They have leash laws for dogs, the domesticated canine. Why not leash laws for cats, the DOMESTICATED feline.
Obviously cats from feral colonies and strays will roam, but if you have a cat, keep it IN, unless like I mentioned, you are able to keep it contained to YOUR property ONLY, and safe from all the bad.

There is always the exception to the rule when dealing with a feral that you are trying to tame. And I would not expect that someone who is caring for an entire colony, take them all into their home. But the notion that "cats need to have freedom" is hogwash IMO. I honestly believe that if we as a society respected cats in the same manner as we do dogs. And they weren't seen as disposable. This controversy would no longer be. We take the time to walk our dogs, we keep them in our yards to they can play outside. Why can't that also be applied to cats? Cats can still have safe outdoor experiences, we are just not willing to put the effort into out cats like we do dogs.
Very well said.
 

Jcatbird

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I live in a very remote and rural area with acreage and acres of more woods beside me. I have rescued “lost” cats and spent months tracking down their families to return them. In some cases to have the cat return here. I’ve also buried more than 20 cats. Almost every one was killed by human predators. You wouldn’t necessarily expect that here but it is all to common these days. Tragic. My kitties are inside. As someone who works to advocate for kitties, I can tell you that the stories related to me are mostly very sad. Happy endings are something we work for. I hope everyone here will only have happy tails.
 

Nature9000

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The most I will allow is the balcony under supervision. Nikita and Prince stay on the balcony floor and never go on the rail, and I won't let them. They have no interest in the front door, but like to go on the balcony if I let them. I am paranoid, I have this terrible fear that if they leave the house and go off, I will never see them again.

When I was a child, my mother and brother passed away, so my grandparents came. We had two dogs and one cat named Nikki. Nikki was a beautiful black cat (this is where Nikita gets her name. Nikita the third, as I call her). Well my grandparents didn't want any animals (I'd say I haven't forgiven fhem for that, but I have, yet I still can't let go of that choice even decade or so later) and sent the dogs to a farm. Nikki, on the other hand, bolted straight out the door.

Well, obviously, we left. Never did we learn if Nikki was ever found or ever lived. Then there was my ex, to which was an abusive relationship and my only joy was a tiny black kitten I named Nikita. When I escaped., my grandparents once again-who were going to let me stay with them a while-said no animals. I had to let Nikita go or stay in that situation. It was horrid.

I can't let my cats outside because I don't know if they'll live or die out there. And I'm in an apartment complex, which adds to the level of danger. There's just too much risk, and the panic attack I have if I can't find one of them (usually Nikita, who loves hiding), it's just too much. The thought of losing them is too much. Even this last week, I bought an automatic programmable feeder from the pet store and left extra bowls of water out while I visited relatives for the week-I was still worried sick about how they were until I got home....which they were excited to see me. So just the thought of them being outside, yeah I cannot
 
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marmoset

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So its like... is life worth living with no risk? We act like we dont take a risk everytime we hop in the car to go to the store. We could get in a wreck. Someone could have a disease and we catch it. There could be an active shooter. But we leave our homes anyway because the alternative is unthinkable.

Is it fair to apply that to cats?
I personally don't feel that it is. Humans have agency. We can comprehend dangers that cats cannot. Take Deer for example. Thier brains cannot process speeds over their own max speed- for that is the limit of physics according to them. So they use their judgement based off the knowledge of their comparatively limited capabilities and the expected capabilities of oncoming cars and just can't win vs. car.

I grew up with indoor/ outdoor cats. I had one that lived well (really well) my first cat lived to 25. I was away at university on the other side of the country when he succumbed to kidney issues. But up to 23-24 he still enjoyed his time in the sun and his eternal war with a taunting bluejay that would scream at him while he was in his sunning spot.

That cat, Smokey, was born in a barn, taken in by my mom with my father (a die- hard non-animal person at the time) when I was a 4. So they (mostly my mom) raised him to according to what people did in the late suburban 70's but a little bit with more care. Many of her neighbors had fully outdoor cats that never came in unless it was bad weather, a lot of those houses had no litter boxes indoors etc. My mom and I loved that cat and believe it or not dad came around eventually despite himself and we were probably unusual in following up on vaccines etc and getting regular medical care; treating them like a family member etc. But Smokey was still indoor/ outdoor until he hit 24...he gradually stayed in more and more. He had a few battles with CKD and eventually succumbed to it, in peace via euthanasia. It wasn't cars, or birds of prey that took him down (they were the big threat for our area at the time) it was the kidneys and old age that did him in. This sounds like the ideal life for an indoor outdoor cat right?

Now I live in a more urban area. Where people aren't always well meaning (not to say there aren't well meaning people out there but some people just don't want to deal with the community cat issue and poison or beat animals to death. It's cruel. Add the encroaching coyotes into the mix and for me- Its not at all fair to expect cats to make choices based off the information. They can not possibly collate all the data to make educated decisions about their safety and odds (but we can).

My cat smokey was lucky to have spent all those years free-reighing indoor/ outdoor life. But since I've gotten into TNR and rescue I can say I've become aware of how many outdoor animals (whether owned and beloved pets or feral unspoken for animals) are poisoned, beaten, trapped and killed or ripped apart by higher predators has convinced me to keep mine indoors.
 
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