Thursday, November 23, 2017

An Argument for Indoor Cat Ownership

November 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Tale Waggers

Our backyard is home to several species of local birds and a stop over point for  migratory flocks.  Our neighbors own several cats with more than a slight interest in our bird feeders. Adopted greyhounds are routinely “cat tested” and to say that Jesse flunked, would be an understatement. As a equal opportunity animal lover, I have adopted more than one kitten, in my lifetime.  And although, cat ownership, is out of the question as long as we have Jesse, I would like to point out the advantages of keeping cats indoors; to protect cats from dogs and the wild birds from cats.

Jesse has no interest in our feathered friends.  They are completely safe in our yard under his protection. The local cats have determined that our yard is off limits, if they value their lives.  Yet, I worry that Jesse may kill a furry family pet. I wonder if it’s not time for my neighbors to consider an indoor feline lifestyle.  Vets regularly recommend it, yet pet owners for some reason feel that cats must have outdoor access to be healthy and happy.  I have read several studies and statistics that prove otherwise. Greyhounds are not the only dog breed known to kill cats. Cars are an even greater danger. My question is, has the time come for responsible cat ownership? Should all pet cats be indoors?


4 Responses to “An Argument for Indoor Cat Ownership”
  1. I have to agree with you here. I love cats and kept one for many years, but the killing of birds was hard to prevent. My neighbour has five. I’ve had to arm my garden with stuff on the tops of the fences, cat deterrent and a cat proof feeder, but now reap the rewards of a garden full of birds eager to eat me out of house and home.

  2. Pat Gray says:

    We keep our two kitties inside as we live on a very busy road and have the occasional visiting coyote. However, I would love to build them a screened-in “sun room” so they could enjoy the outdoors. Till then, they have lots of toys, access to the windows and several pots of grass to munch on…

  3. Catherine says:

    Hello, Elaine.
    This is a tricky one. I know that in the US, keeping cats indoors is quite common. Here in the UK, it’s considered unusual and cruel, and is generally only done by people who have valuable, “stealable” cats; cats with infectious diseases (such as FIV) to protect the local cat population; or sometimes by those who live close to major roads (although it is considered cruel to adopt a cat at all under such circumstances).
    I adopted one cat who’d spent the first 14 years of his life indoors – he was a “valuable” breed, owned by an American relative of mine. He came to live with me for the last five years of his life, and I allowed him access to the outdoors. The improvement in his spirit and obvious enjoyment of life was immeasurable and a joy to behold. He couldn’t hide his delight at his regular explorations of the garden.
    Personally, I would only keep a cat indoors if it was FIV-positive or similar, or dangerously disabled (eg blind) – and only because I own a large house with lots of space to run around in, although it’s hardly the same as the great outdoors, for which cats are clearly built and where they are able to express their natural behaviours and urges.
    On the other hand, we don’t have anything like coyotes or other large predators in the UK to threaten our cats’ survival. Of course there ARE dangers in the big wide world – cars, dogs, abusive people, places to get locked into – and I suppose it’s about balancing the risk with the importance of quality of life.
    My own approach is a compromise thus: (1) All my cats have a dusk to dawn curfew. They only go out during the day, and they’re all happy to come indoors at night. Keeping them in at night means they are much less likely to get hit by a car (this usually happens at night); to fight (usually done at dusk and dawn); or to catch birds (also mainly at dusk and dawn – and in 10 years, we’ve only had two kills that I know of). (2) The cats are strongly encouraged to stay in the gardens and away from the roads. Obviously this is not completely enforceable, but it generally works quite well. (3) All my cats are neutered, which means they naturally develop a smaller territory and are less likely to roam long distances. And (4) I don’t encourage birds into the garden with feeders etc, unless I am ‘between’ cats.
    So far, it’s worked well and all my cats have lived to a ripe old age – and so has the local wildlife!
    Best wishes
    ps Wonderful to hear about your adoption of retired greyhounds. We also have charities in the UK that try to find homes for these sadly discarded racers – and I understand they make marvellous pets.

    • Elaine Webster says:

      It’s good to hear from such a responsible pet owner. Here in the states it’s common for less conscientious folks to adopt cats with the idea that they are easy pets. They feel they can leave them outside to roam more like the feral variety than members of a family. These cats often fall victum to early death. Overpopulation is an increasing problem as well. In Sonoma County where I live, there’s actually a non profit organization called “Forgotten Felines”. They take it upon themselves to capture, neuter, then release a growing feral cat population. And “yes” greyhounds are wonderful. Woof!