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Why All Cats Should Be Indoor Cats

Cat Looking In Through Window©

When the stray cat first appeared on the porch, he had long silky fur. I started feeding him and earning his trust. But as the months passed, he got bitten by other cats. He developed enormous abscesses that refused to heal. His coat grew dull.

Finally, the I gained his confidence enough to lure him into a carrier with food and whisk him off to a vet. Sadly, the big, once-handsome cat tested positive for FIV, the feline equivalent of AIDS. Already, the disease had ravaged his teeth and gums. Most of his teeth had fallen out. His gums were flaming red. Eating must have been agony. The disease also damaged his heart. An infection had also spread from his gums, causing irreparable harm.

It was all over. The injection was painless—but not for me. Now I know better.

The Not-So-Great Outdoors

Feline AIDS is a highly contagious, incurable disease for which there is no vaccine. It can only be prevented by keeping cats indoors. It is one of several deadly diseases that cats who roam outdoors can catch. Unattended cats also face dangers posed by dogs, wildlife, and the scariest predator of all, humans.

Feral Kitten in Hay

Thieves, or “bunchers,” cruise neighborhoods for friendly dogs and cats who can easily be picked up and sold to dealers, who in turn sell them to laboratories. Cats are often poisoned, shot, set on fire, or trapped and drowned by intolerant neighbors or bored juveniles. They are hit by cars, accidentally poisoned by spilled antifreeze, or maimed by fan blades when they crawl into warm engines on winter days.

Feral Cat With Six-Pack Ring Around Neck“But he wants to go outside.” “We live on a very quiet street.” “It’s cruel to keep her in.” These are things said by people who would never dream of opening the door and sending toddlers to wander down the street on their own.

The way we learn not to let the cat out unaccompanied is usually the hard way. In Pompano, Florida, lost dogs and cats were found in a large storage warehouse used by dogfight “trainers.” In South Dakota, a fur trader was caught selling cat skins. In Washington, D.C., a cat let out for her daily stroll returned covered in burns from hot cooking grease. In California, a woman searching for her cats found that both had been shot with arrows.

Today’s concrete jungles are far too dangerous for vulnerable, trusting little animals. But how do we prevent Tabby from getting bored in the great indoors? Here’s how!

Six Steps to Having a Happy Housecat

1. Bring joy with toys.

From paper bags and rolled up balls of paper to motorized “mice” and laser pointers, toys perk up even the laziest feline. All-time favorites are Cat Dancer and Cat Charmer.

Adoptable Kittens Warren and Shirley

2. Scratch that itch.

Cats love to scratch. Doing so enables them to remove broken claws, stretch muscles, and mark “territory.” The best way to save your furniture is to provide lots of “approved” places to scratch. Cat “trees” and posts, cardboard scratching boxes, and those ingenious “cat tracks” (a ball in a circular, partially open plastic tunnel surrounding a cardboard scratching pad) are big hits. Sprinkle catnip on them weekly to keep cats interested, and be sure to replace cardboard inserts when they get worn out.

3. Provide a room with a view.

Windows are cat “TV”—a birdbath or feeder placed near a window can provide hours of entertainment. If window sills aren’t wide enough, build or buy a cushioned perch (which are available from pet supply stores and catalogs) to attach to the sill. (For safe window-sill perching, make sure that double-hung windows are propped open to prevent them from falling down on cats, and tuck the cords of blinds up and out of the way so that legs and other body parts don’t get entangled in them.)

Cats watching TV

4. Porches bring purrs.

A screened-in porch or an enclosure accessible through a window is a great way for your kitty to safely commune with nature. KittyWalk Systems makes enclosures in a variety of configurations that can stand alone or be attached to a cat door. If your yard is fenced, another option is Cat Fence-In, a netting kit that attaches to the top of the fence. No existing fence is necessary to install another escape-proof system called Purrfect Fence, although it is advisable to supplement it with sturdy fencing of some kind to keep dogs and other predators out.

5. Take your kitty out for cat walkies.

Cats can be taught to walk on a leash—just be sure to use an ultra-lightweight, retractable leash that’s attached to a harness, not a collar. Let your cat get used to the harness for short periods indoors, and then pick a safe outdoor area to explore. KittyWalk Systems also makes a “pet stroller” that allows for longer, brisker walks and provides a measure of safety from free-roaming dogs.

Black Cat on Leash

6. Plant a garden—of catnip.

Cats will nibble on it and roll in it. Other healthy snacks are wheat grass, alfalfa, and oat grass. (You can buy seed starter kits at companion animal supply stores.) You can also find catnip toys at the PETA CatalogCatnip toys

For more information about how you can make your feline’s life more felicitous, read PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk’s book, 250 Things You Can Do to Make Your Cat Adore You.

PETA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide websites with a means to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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  • lily says:

    Why do people think cats should be allowed outside. Wr livr in Pleasantville and I foolishly let my sweet half Persian kitty out and some horrible peraon kucked her and broke her jaw. She’s ok now but will never go out again and I have to livr with the fact that she got hurt because I let her out.

  • Leslie says:

    I am a responsible owner of 2 retired racing greyhounds. To make a long story short, my teen slammed the gate shut. It didn’t latch. My dogs got out. I immediately called 911 and my local greyhound rescue. They were located in 10 min. During that time, my male killed a cat. The owner wasn’t home. When the owner came home, he took his 15 year old asthmatic cat to a trauma vet, spent 1 week in the ICU and had surgery. The cat died.
    I owned 2 cats in the past. They NEVER went outside because I wanted them to be safe. I am now facing a $11,000 lawsuit. If you love your pet, you will do everything you can to keep him/her safe.

  • Christina says:

    I am wrestling with a cat problem at the present time and really don’t know what to do for the best. Any advise out there would be appreciated? I live in the UK. My elderly mother lives in ‘old peoples’accomodation and is not allowed pets. Every evening an un-neutered tom cat (I think he is quite elderley)turns up and my mum feeds him. She now leaves her door open and most nights he sneaks in for a few hours sleep and then slinks off again. She says he seems friendly and has let her stroke him, but he is nervous. Obviously this situation can’t continue, she can’t keep leaving her door open at night for him! My elder son and his girlfriend have recently bought a flat in London and have taken in an ‘indoor’ rescue cat. My son has now volunteered – to help his nan out – to take on this stray once we get him neutered, but it will mean the stray staying in the flat for the rest of his life and never being allowed out again. I’ve spoken to the locat Cats Protection Charity and the vets receptionist and they both took the view that the cat should be neutered and released back out because that is what he is used to and it would be unfair to lock him up after years of living wild. I personally think both options are not ideal, but he would probably be better off locked up a flat with food, good health and people who will show him affection and care. What do I do? I need to make a decision now. As I said, any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • Daisy says:

    Lee, you are such a hypocrite. “I am hurt that you think owners who let their cats out are bad… PEOPLE WHO KEEP THEIR CATS INSIDE ARE BRUTES.” Please use your brain before you open your mouth.

    I think both can be good and bad options given circumstance. I know, right, that good old middle way and higher road are apparently so hard to reach for some people.

    When I lived in the dead of a city centre bad neighbourhood right next to a roundabout, you bet your bottom dollar my cat stayed indoors. And he was a happy cat, I made sure of that. Good and bad pet owners are not made by the amount of space they give their animals.

    Now that I live in a country town in Australia, I have outdoor cats. One just got killed by a car today. It drove over his head. I found him on my way home from work, on the road, head flat and the rest of the body bleeding. People tell me “at least he got to be free”. He was 9 months old. I doubt how much that freedom was really worth.

    Next property we are getting, there will be fences. A giant yard all especially set up for cats, yes. But no getting out. I’ve had it with intolerant neighbours scaring them and cars running over their heads and leaving them on the road like vermon.

    But each to their own.

  • Terliegirl says:

    We are doing a re-model my cat has always had a cat door. When we got to the floors being refinished she had to be brought to where we re stayin. The days are fine but we have not had a good night sleep for over a week. The floors have to be redone so that means at least another week . Any suggestions? I have given her lots of attention but she gets possessed at night

  • Geo says:

    my 11 year old pure bred havana brown has spent his entire life indoors and actually wont let me take him outside even if im holding him lol but i deffinitely agree and not to mention for his age hes in amazing shape other than needing insulin shots twice a day otherwise he could easily pass for 3-5 years old 🙂

  • cat whisperer says:

    If almost all cats were neutered/spayed there would be no need for
    making cats stay inside all of the time or being on leashes. Cats
    need lots of unrestricted time outside if living in optimum cat terrain in order to really be happy; otherwise they are neurotic
    messes like most people. They are not at all suited for “controlling” with a leash. being much closer to and much more
    like their Big Cat ancestors, they are much “wilder” than dogs and don’t take to “following orders” from their owners. One of the things that makes them so wonderful, I think. Do you have any
    examples of petitions to undo or at least relax cat leash ordinances. I have talked to several people who share my concerns,
    obviously there are actually people who care about what cats want,
    what they need to be happy, but it does not appear that PETA includes these kinds of humans. Are you proud to be part of the problem? just another group of control freaks.

  • Marietta says:

    I’m a firm believer in keeping your cat indoors. I’ve rescued three cats over the past few years. None of them have stepped foot outdoors since the initial rescue and none of them want to ever again. One of our neighbors bought a high-priced breed kitten and let it roam outdoors. Two months later, it was struck dead on our street. When I was younger, my dad hated cats. He felt they were pests like rodents and would set out food laced with poison. I’m not proud of this history but any time I think about people who let their cats roam, I remember my dad and really, really wish they didn’t. Buy a cat tree (or make one – we did and it was super cheap), get some toys and let them play indoors. Interact with your cat on a regular basis and have play times just like you would for a dog. If your cat is happy indoors, it will never want to venture outside. Take it from the owner of three happy indoor-only once-strays.

  • Alexia says:

    Honestly, why is it so hard for people to understand. Cats are dangerous creatures. They need to be restrained at all times. If dogs are not allowed unrestrained then cats shouldn’t be. Cats cause so much damage to local wild life. In some islands off NZ a single cat has been known to kill an entire species.

  • Sharon Irene says:

    I am sitting in bed with two very happy cats who have never been outdoors. They also have never had one vet visit that was not a well visit EXCEPT when my friend, who to this day berates me for keeping my cats inside, convinced me to let one of my cats out while we supervised him and made sure he stayed within our sight. Well, that little roll in my yard caught him and my two other cats fleas that infested my whole house. My friend who sets her cats free is constantly at the vets because her cats get beat up outside and now her house is infested with fleas. She had one cat see her on a walk and it ran across the street to greet her and was struck dead by a car. Her basement is often fraught with the carcasses of headless birds and chipmunks, because her cats go in and out through a kitty door and bring the wild animals they torture into the house. As to cats being wild creatures, they have been domesticated since before the birth of Christ, so they, like dogs,they are not wild and should not be free. As one person said here, cats don’t understand the concept of freedom. My cats like to get in my washer and dryer also and all cats like to eat antifreeze, and crawl into warm motors and because they are so domesticated can’t tell the difference between and edible plant and a poisoness one. Cats are not safer in the suburbs, where coyotes, owls, fox and fisher cats live. The birds and other natural creatures are also not safe from cats. Cats devestate the bird population.

  • Mary Morris says:

    Ricky Bobby was neutered at 4 months old, btw.

  • dismayed with PETA says:

    I’ve always admired PETA’s respectful and ethical position on/ for the compassionate treatment of animals, but I’m completely for a cat being both indoor and outdoor, whichever the animal prefers at the moment. I don’t currently own a cat, and won’t until such a time as I’m able to provide a home and neighbourhood where it could thrive. We had a beloved family cat– indoor/ outdoor– and he lived a good (wonderful) life for 19 yrs. I’ve met many indoor cats and they’re all slightly barmy and my heart breaks for the ignorance and insensitivity of the owners that keeps them imprisoned. An apartment might be a much bigger cage but it is still 100% unnatural. I understand for apartment dwellers, there might not be an ‘outdoor’ option and being kept indoors is preferable to a cage or death, but it is still an inferior alternative to the freedom of enjoying nature.

  • Hannah says:

    You just need to see my cat basking in the sun on the shed roof, enjoying her freedom to know this is not true. I live in the UK where I believe we are more tolerant of animals and expect to see them enjoying natural behaviours. I also appreciate the fact that my cat returns to me out of choice not because she is MY ‘pet’. Cats who are kept indoors suffer from stress, if they are placid it is probably depression. The also get all sorts of urinary problems from not being able to toilet naturally. I believe that as a result of my cat roaming free she displays natural streetwise behaviour. She would run from any stranger trying to take her (they would not get a chance to catch her) and she does not suffer cat fight injuries. I could not enjoy possesssion of any animal if I were confining them to meet my own needs. I think Peta is a wonderful organisation and I am most surprised at this stance.

  • Lee says:

    I as life long cat lover and oner find it hurtful and offensive the view you have of cat owners who let their cats outside. Cats are outdoor animals full stop . If you live in an unsuitable area for a cat to roam free then either don’t have one or if you must have one no matter what then by all means keep it indoors. But don’t make judgements about those who allow their cats to live as nature intended. And the comparison to toddlers is ridiculous . Of course noone wants anything bad to happen to their cat we all want the best for them . I am very in touch with my felines needs and wants – and they want to roam free and feel safe – that is why I always choose a house in a suitable environment and let them outside . There is no greater sight for me than a happy cat rolling in the sun , hiding in bushes or exploring and smelling their territory. Perhaps in some cases their life may be shorter – and that is devastating to the owner but the important thing is the life they live – it has to be happy for them . An outdoor cat IS happy . I’m not saying an indoor one isnt – I’m just saying the outdoors is where they orginate . They weren’t always pets and I respect that . I have a friend with an indoor cat – I’d never criticise her and nor would she criticise me . She had her cats interests at heart – she live in flat in a busy town so outside isnt a good idea . I have my cats interests at heart too – they love the garden and the sunshine . And frankly I’d rather have no cat than one cooped up indoors everyday for the rest of it’s artificially extended live . 20 years in a house doesn’t sound fun – unless of course it’s in that cats nature – some dont want to go outside. Mine are always moggies and have that bit of wild in them .

  • Kate says:

    Even if you don’t believe it’s better for the cat to keep it indoors (although you’re wrong – it really, really is), you can’t deny that it’s better for the environment. Cats that are allowed to roam the outdoors kill over half a BILLION birds every year, not to mention squirrels, chipmunks, and other animals. Letting your pet wander outside is irresponsible, period. In my day I have taken several cats that I found in my back yard to the local no-kill animal shelter. Their owners don’t deserve to have a pet.

  • Erika says:

    To those that say “well it’s in a cat’s nature to be outdoors” well you know what it’s in a toddler’s nature to be inquisitive and wind up face down in a pool. Would you let your toddler wander around your backyard unsupervised? Something to think about if your pets are a part of or are your family. Domestic cats depend on us for their well-being, they don’t always know what’s good for themselves. Too many potential dangers to let mine outside, and he doesn’t seem to mind.

  • Cathy says:

    I have had cats over the years, for awhile outdoors only since my father would not allow them in the house, after he died they were all indoors. I have loved my cats, and if you do not want your heart broken and have very high vet bills, keep your cat(s) indoors. Walk them on a harness and leash if they like it. The former stray I have now wants NOTHING to do with the outdoors anymore. She seems grateful for a safe haven. I would never want to be without the unconditional love of a pet. They do call them DOMESTIC animals for a reason; they need us as we need them.

  • pet food says:

    Something worth stalking and dispatching is the Beta’s motto. Even if they know they aren’t going to eat it.

  • endlessvetbills says:

    I am so torn about this issue. My (barely) 2 year old indoor-outdoor cat has suffered from 4 bite/claw wounds from neighboring cats. She is suffering from a ruptured, pus-filled, bloody abscess and I’m taking her to the vet tomorrow. She will no doubt need ANOTHER rabies booster (treated for the second wound just 2 weeks ago!) She is in excruciating pain from the infection and shrieks hysterically if I barely touch her (and cleaning up the endless leaking pus from her tail was another story). Vet bills have run me up about $800 at this point in one year since the first injury (unfortunately not exaggerating). The first vet urged me to keep her indoors. I have an inkling it’s a nearby neighbor’s large male cat that has been attacking her.

    I live in a somewhat rural area in a town. Probably about a dozen or more domestic cats wandering around this area. I have a big yard and small patches of woods that surround my home which is good sized. My cat LOVES running around out there. She has caught over a dozen mice at this point (bad for her health and ecosystem). Reinfected with tapeworms a few months ago (treated for $30).

    I was always of the opinion that keeping an animal trapped indoors is cruelty. Now I have no idea what to do anymore with her. She WILL bolt out the door when given the chance, and she spends hours outside. As a student I can’t afford these constant vet bills. She still needs her leukemia and FeLV shot. I know that I shouldn’t own a pet if I can barely afford her, but I’ve had her since she was a baby and she brings so much joy to my life. She’s very sweet sometimes, she’ll sleep with me, do tricks, and talk to me and my family. I will definitely keep her inside for at least a month so she can heal. This will break her heart–she’s an incredibly athletic and active animal; I hope she won’t become “depressed.” I’m thinking I might need to keep her indoors at all times now. At least I understood the indoor cat people a lot better.

  • buggy says:

    First of all, I love cats and all animals. I only wish the best for them. I’ve read a lot on the internet about cats staying inside. My whole life, I’ve had indoor cats, but I often wondered if they were truly happy or did they long for the great outdoors. I ask myself, how would I feel if someone locked me indoors for the rest of my life. Would I choose safetly over freedom? I don’t think so. In fact, I take risks everyday. This is life. All God’s creatures were created to survive outside. Yes, there are risks, but it is unnatural for animals to be kept prisoner in a house. Cats are animals with animal instincts. I feel this is true for all pets. Truly, all animals would be better off away from people because humans are their greatest danger. If animals were away from people, there would be less animals that were neglected or abused. It would be nice if animals could live freely in their original outdoor habitat without being sold into “slavery” for human’s selfish need to have something furry by their side. But instead, dogs are put on leashes and controlled in every way and cats are usually kept inside. Is this fair?

  • Tonia says:

    Years ago I had two great cats and always kept them inside. Our house was their play ground and if they wanted outside, they were on a leash (they hated it but they to bad). I haven’t had animals in almost 10 years and don’t want any. The area I live in now everyone has a cat and so, I guess, that means I have cats now because they are forever doing whatever they want in my yard, in my garden, on my step, on my patio by the pool. I DON’T want animals and feel that because someone else does, doesen’t mean I have to put up with this crap..literaly. To top it off, driving to work this morning a cat ran out in front of me and BANG, I hit it. I guess he won’t be wondering the big outdoors anymore and now I have this image in my head every two minutes of this dead cat. Yes I feel bad, and some little kid does not have their pet anymore. Thanks cat loves who think they should roam the world. If you have a cat, keep it inside, the whole world does not want cats…

  • UnliketheLikely says:

    I have read almost all of the 3 pages of comments on this and I have to say that NO ONE is correct or incorrect. You can say “Indoors only!” “Outdoors All the Way!”….but in reality, it just matters on your location! If you live in a rough neighborhood where the animal population and care is out of control, then OF COURSE (assuming you have a brain.) You’re not going to let your animals (or children.) outside alone! (if at all.) If you live in a suburban area with little threat, then you’re going to feel more inclined to let your cat have at the wild grass and insects. (Granted you don’t mind a flea infestation brewing lol.) If you live in an apartment (also depending on location.) you’re most likely going to keep your pussy cat INDOORS. It prevents them from becoming confused on which building you live in and yada yada. No need for any one to get angry or vilify each other on this thread. All in all, it is just an opinion and PETA suggests solutions to what may be troubling some… I for one, have an indoor/outdoor cat. He never gets into fights. He’s neutered. He’s vaccinated. He’s always on our street. IN FACT, when we come driving home (we live on a cul-de-sac.) he comes racing home to greet us, it’s the cutest thing! The funny thing is, when he was about 9 weeks old or so he just showed up in our car’s engine. It was early morning and I was on my way to work (it rained the night b4.) and I heard this cute little ‘mewing’ sound as I walked out to my car….opened the hood of my car and there was this little gray fluff ball! <3 He’s been our sweet man for 2 years now. We had moved to an apartment for a year and he was SO unhappy, urinating everywhere and constantly bullying our other cat…..When we moved to our new neighborhood we decided it was safe for him to explore and all of our community knows he is OUR cat, just as I know who’s cat is who’s. We are ok with them pooping in our gardens, it’s as easy as using gloves when you’re gardening and chucking it into the garbage. – annoying if the cat population is over bearing I must agree with that person on that. – I’m ranting now…but you all see what I’m saying? It’s just a matter of the cat itself, location and opinion. 🙂

  • ACM says:

    I have to wonder, do all of the people posting comments about how cats deserve the rich, fulfilling life of the outdoors or are convinced that it’s in a cat’s nature to be allowed to roam freely would adopt the same position about their dogs, if they have them. Or their birds, snakes, gerbils, hamsters, mice, etc. I doubt it. But the same narrow-minded argument people are making about cats applies to all animals. Cats do not need to go outside. They can address all of their needs, from food, to exercise, to bodily functions inside the house. And unless you live in a 10×10 box, a home is nowhere near a “prison” for a cat. Cat’s are territorial, and they like small territories. A cat would have no concept of prison, but would simply view it’s home as it’s normal territory. Just because an animal can go outside, doesn’t mean it should. By assuming a cat would care one way or another is just putting human thought into a cat’s mind, which is not something it’s capable of. My cat used to be feral. We rescued her. She hasn’t set foot outside in 12 years, and she exhibits no desire to ever be outside again. Cats should stay indoors. It’s the safest, most humane way to treat them. Period.

  • Ben says:

    I just tried to adopt a cat from a wacko organization that tried to tell me the same thing. They said that cats dont want to go outside and they should be indoors. I almost got into a full blown argument over the phone with the adoption agency rep.

    So the ethical treatment of animals is to have the males castrated and forced to live in a jail cell? Some even have their claws taken away? So cats don’t deserve to know the joys of living a fulfilling life? I think we’re not protecting the animals as much as we are protecting ourselves from losing our loved ones.

  • pete says:

    i hate cats . why ? because they shit in my garden . i have spent lots of money trying to keep them out , on one sunny day i had the back door open and a cat came in and tried to attack my budgie . you cat owners should keep your cats indoors or face the consequences of losing your cats to a lump of chicken with rat killer inside it. i’m fed up with it . no i’m not going to buy a cat , no i’m not going to buy a dog ,why should i ? cat owners should be more responsible for there pets.

  • Michael says:

    This is ridiculous. I thought PETA stood for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, but forcing an animal who is instinctually driven to explore the outside world to remain confined in a small house or apartment for its entire life is not ethical. We have humans who live like this, they are called prisoners! We utilize prisons as a form of punishment, and this is advocating what is essentially the equivalent for our feline friends. Don’t give your cat a life sentence it doesn’t deserve. I have an indoor and outdoor cat, and he would never accept an exclusively indoor life. He comes and goes as he pleases, and has an extrememly happy life. He does get in fights every so often, but i have never had to take him to the vet for any injuries, infections, etc. in the few years my family has had him. In fact, when he wants out he goes to the door and waits, meowing until someone lets him out, or goes to someones bedroom and wakes one of us up to let him out. However, note that i live in a surburban area and not a huge city, but i still maintain the view that it is ludacris to expect all cat owners to make their cats indoor – only cats, providing “cat walks” , a “cat porch”, or a window view in lieu of the outdoor experiences they instinctually crave.

  • gsfasf says:

    animals should not be kept as pets. they are animals after all and deserve to live their natural lives in their natural habitat. Why are people so selfish.

  • Etain says:

    I am suprised the article did not bring up spaying and neutering. I think that would heavily cut down on the desire of a cat to want to roam. Cats were domesticated since they kill vermin. However, if you live in a city and not do not like on a farm with a barn for cats to roam in, then keep the cat indoors. Give the cat toys, attention and love, spay and neuter it and I think the cat will not hate to be indoors. A roaming cat can kill birds, get sick or killed. I am more of a dog person but I think if most people will not let a dog or child roam by itself then why shouldn’t cats be given the same respect?

  • Sara says:

    I have multiple indoor cats. They are active, happy, get along well with each other. They eat free choice, they never use anything but the litterboxes, and they are all the correct weight. They are safe, healthy, and endlessly entertaining, and the one who ventures outside upon occasion checks the weather and heads right back inside. They don’t have worms and are not going to get any kind of animal-borne illness. I have abandoned cats that have come to my yard and now live there, and are too shy to come inside. They are prone to any kind of assault, and all I can do for them is feed them well as I can to entice them to stay in the yard, make sure they are neutered and have their shots, keep them as warm as possible in winter and as dry as possible in the summer, and pray they outrun the jerk trying to run them down with a 4-wheeler or the little darlings with pellet guns who think it would be cool to make the cat yowl. My dream would never ever to see a cat scurrying down a street or alley, homeless or otherwise.

  • Mel says:

    putting a bird feeder beside a wondow is more likely to stress a cat than give it entertainment as it would just be wanting out!

  • Ashley-P says:

    Keely: Electric shock collars and fences should never be an option for dogs or cats. Please read why here: If you want your cat to be able to explore the outdoors, I suggest taking him or for a walk using a cat harness or installing your a “catio”. Good luck!

  • Keely Fence says:

    You make some very good points. I got my first cat a little bit ago, and it took some getting used to, but now he doesn’t really try to get outside. He’s loving the indoors! At the same time, I think if I lived in the country, I would let him wander more. Do electric fences work for cats? I know they work pretty wonderful for dogs, so I wonder if that is an option for cats.

  • Ray Ray says:

    Wow, there are certainly some strong opinions on here but I guess that is to be expected. I just can’t help thinking that we humans are the most domesticated of all animals, yet we like to have our time out in the sun….to go to the mountains, the beach, on walks. I couldn’t imagine staying inside my home at all times because I was so afraid of something horrible happening to me, if I did people would think I was paranoid. I guess to me it just sounds a little extreme and extremely unfufilling. I have had many cats in my lifetime and they have always loved going outside. I think that if they are vaccinated and fixed and are able to come back inside when they are ready that they should be allowed outside, it’s a part of them.

  • Lorena says:

    yep and all children should be kept inside. too many of my friends have died of car accidents and some were even kidnapped, 1/4 of my friends that are girls were raped most others were sexually assaulted. I had friends that got diseases like HIV and herpes. A friend of mine is paralyzed due to lyme disease. Im sure everyone here has a friend or loved one that has been harmed by the outside world. does that mean the answer is to be left inside and never be shown the beauty of mother nature and what God has created? If its not right for humans why should it be right for any other animal/creature in the world? sure there are dangers but isnt quality better than quantity. Put yourself in their position for you have no right to put yourself in any higher one, would you like to spend the rest of your like in the confines of a small house or apartment? isn’t freedom worth anything to you, its what all Americans should stand for. I can understand the city since there is no nature in the city, but anyone living in the suburbs or country should have their cat do as they please. I have two cats one is declawed and the other isnt, the declawed unfortunately has to stay inside, and you can see she is miserable. she stays by the window, always looking out but afraid of everything out there. Its really sad to see. my other cat, on the other hand is visibly a lot happier and healthier. He looks like a cat should. now yes he is domesticated but that doesnt change the fact that he can defend himself (which iv seen plenty of times), feed himself, and enjoy himself (this guy is always moving and playing with something). Im happy that he is happy, it hurts to know my other cat cant have that. they are special to me, as a cat should to any cat owner. Now yes once in awhile he gets infections, but they heal. iv had plenty of broken bones and stitches. the beauty of modern day medicine allows for cuts, infections, broken bones and illnesses to heal. im just saying no one should discuss about the freedom of independent, self caring pets if it didnt plague people negatively. if it feels wrong, it most likely is. Bella sleeps on the couch all day while kimba ventures out and has fun. at the end of the day they are both in the house with me cuddling on the couch.
    tag, spay/nueter and up with shots for your cat like any responsible owner should and they should be fine, my kimba is 5 and he is healthier than my indoor cat, bella, he has had a better and happier life too.
    anyone here who calls another stupid or unintelligent for their opinion is very ignorant. you do not know what is best for any creature, most dont even know whats good for themselves. Please dont act like you, treat your pets how you would want to be treated if. BE SMART. if you live on a highway (as i wouldnt let my kid out i would let my cat either) then maybe its not beneficial to have an outdoor cat. If you have a yard or live in a quiet neighborhood, then let your cat have a life

  • Ashley-P says:

    Gina: Given the examples explained above, letting cats outdoors unsupervised is dangerous and irresponsible. Letting your cats roam free allows them to kill native wildlife which disrupts local ecosystems, and cats who are allowed to defecate in neighbors flowerbeds only create a negative attitude towards cats and can lead to deadly encounters. Instead, PETA suggests people build or purchase “catios”, or take their cats on walks similar to what you would do with your dog. That way your cat is not “deprived”, but you can keep a careful eye on them to make sure they stay out of danger. More tips on letting your cat outside safely can be found here: ( Good luck!

  • Gina says:

    Quality of life is as important as quantity. Books by people in the UK about cat ownership will often discuss the rise of behavioral problems among American cats because of our obsession with safety above all else, keeping them indoors when they have a natural desire to roam and hunt that we humans try to keep at bay. My cats are well fed, well groomed, played with, loved on and let out during the day into a fenced in backyard. Sometimes they jump the fence and other cats jump in, but keeping them cooped up was resulting in severe aggression between them and towards us (and we had plants, toys, windows, cat furniture and spent lots of time with their human companions). The fact was, they just wanted to go outside. While domesticated, cats have an independent streak and a desire to hunt that can’t be satiated with numerous games of catch the toy mouse. My male cat’s aggression decreased significantly after we let him out and he was able to come off an anti-depressant he had been on for his aggressive behavior. My female cat takes naps in a sunny spot between some bushes. They’re independent beings with instincts, not toddlers with no survival skills. Also, many potential diseases, such as feline leukemia and feline AIDS, can be avoided with up-to-date vaccinations. It is more likely that my cats will die from an encounter with another animal or because of a careless automobile driver, but they’ll also have lived a fuller life. I would live longer if I never subjected myself to any potential dangers, but I would not have had a full life if someone decided that I must be cooped up for my own safety against accidents and predators. How can I deny my cats the same? Of course letting them out must be done in a smart, safe manner, which is why they have a fenced in area in our suburban backyard, but if we moved to the country I would have no problem with giving them total access to our land. The risks rise, but so does their quality of life, and it’s a trade-off I had to make, seriously considering the pros and cons of indoor vs. indoor/outdoor life. Each human living with animal companions will have a different story to tell, and no one method should be mandated on all people/animals. One of my cats would freak out if left outside; the other relishes his time to chase and be independent. This is not a “one size fits all” situation.

  • alison says:

    I haveto say it has been very helpful reading all the comments on this subject.I am a ‘new cat ownwer’ We have just brought a beautiful little Raggamuffin x. I am in the prosess of adopting another one as a companion for him (am me) the lady at the P.D.S.A seemed to think it wasn’t a good idea to keep a cat in the house all the time. I felt quite stupid really she did put accross a good arguement for letting them out. However I am reasurred that a house cat is a happy heathy cat and my Rubus will not be going outside!

  • Morgan says:

    I agree with the majority of what PETA says but I do believe it to be cruel to keep a cat indoors all the time and as people who’ve leash trained their cats find, cats hate leashes. I have two cats Toffee (14) and Molly-May (2) and Toffee has always been allowed roam freely and has never hurt himself in anyway. And the only ailment Molly has ever suffered was an infected paw from stepping on something which was treated ASAP.

    Then again I do live in the middle of the country and there are no people or dogs for quite a distance.

    Cats are natural hunters and putting a bird feeder beside a window is just cruelty.

  • MLC says:


    I have got an indoor cat who roams only in our backyard ( which is pretty big) under my supervision. This is the best compromise i could find for her. I spent months agonizing over this debate i was never ever going to make her an outdoor cat as it is irresponsible and lazy to do so. So the next best thing was to have her play in a fenced yard but watch her while she does this.
    For your cat’s safety and enjoyment keep them in a contained area if not totally indoors.

  • Cat Enclosures for Outdoors says:

    To give your cat a chance to be outside and safe try outdoor cat enclosures. They offer a safe way for kitty to experience the outdoors without the danger.

  • Jenn says:

    Having worked at an animal hospital for almost ten years, i can honestly say that NO cat belongs outside. The shelter brings anything to us that they find on the side of the street and i can assure you 9 times out of 10 the cat is DOA. dog’s have a much better chance outside then cats do especially when it’s animal vs auto. As far as testing for disease. They only disease you can not test for is rabies, atleast while the animal is alive. Every cat that we bring into our house, My husband and I are cat people, is tested for Feline leukemia, FIV, FIP, Toxoplasmosis, Heartworm and the thyroid levels are check. The bloodwork is not cheap but neither is owning the animal. We also repeat bloodwork every year to ensure that vaccines and preventatives are working. I always recommend testing of Feleuk and FIV for new cat owners, and if someone comes up positive it is imperative for owners to understand that their animal may live for a few years symptom free but if left outside they WILL infect animals they come in contact with and they will get sick

  • saminde says:

    Bob and others you are unknowingly very irresponsible by letting your cats outdoors. My neighborhood is infested with cats. Ferel and outdoor cats spread disease, smell up the neighborhood, and suffer unimaginable suffering when they reproduce out of control. Cats are not wild animals. They were domesticated by man thousands of years ago. Now we have a program to trap and euthanize the cats. Unfortunately the cat lady keeps so many intact (not fixed) cats we will soon be overrun again.

  • Tony the Tiger says:

    To all of you saying they are wild animals and have a right to the outdoors, you are an idiot.
    Cats are domesticated pets. Although they may have certain wild traits, they are not wild. Tigers are wild. They have things in common, but I would not confuse the tiger with a tomcat.
    Cats, as well as any pet, have a right to a healthy environment. If you can not provide that environment (home, yard, kennels, food, etc), then it is your fault, not the animals. Don’t foist your pet out into the neighbor where it can destroy their property.
    If you really think the cat should have natural behavior, don’t befriend it, don’t feed it, don’t take it to the vet.

  • Saha says:

    Cats should be kept outdoors.I have 4 indoors only cats.Too many outdoor cats died a untimely death by accidents.diseases(TB) Etc.So I prefer to keep them indoors only.THey are the best pets in the world.

  • Bill says:

    I have seen too many pets run over who were “enjoying the great outdoors.” The latest was a neighbor’s cat whom I watched die an agonizing, writhing death in the street while her owner slept in a warm bed. I have seeb countless cats with open sores, dirty fur, etc. What is the point of having a pet if you are just going to turn it loose? I have had indoor cats for many years and you’d have to be a moron to suggest that cats are “unhappy” indoors. It depends on how much space you have, and how much you provide to keep them occupied, and whether they are spayed/neutered. Ignorant people forget that in nature cats spend very little time hunting and most of it resting, since hunting expends energy. They don’t wander large areas, but are territorial and stay in a small area anyway…not to mention fleas, ticks, other animals, etc that can attack them. I have four cats in a good-sized house and they never, ever run for the door or express any desire to go outside. they love looking out windows, playing with toys, and running around. Best of all, they are healthy and safe, and their company is enjoyed. Let me think….furry cat sitting on my shoulder for a few hours or out getting fleas or run over….. Easy decision for a non-moron.

  • PETA says:

    Re:Bob!@#. Cats face countless dangers outdoors: They can be hit by cars, attacked by other animals, or abused by cruel people. They can contract contagious diseases or parasites, can be stolen by dogfighters who use them as “bait,” or can be tortured, shot, poisoned, or stolen by angry neighbors. To read more about the dangers of a life outdoors, please visit: – PETA

  • BOB!@# says:

    Hi, i think it is completely crazy to keep a cat on a leash and keep it indoors. Cats are wild animals and need to roam. i have a particular small house so my cat cant run around very well and i Agree fully with fFiona MacMillian. PETA is very overprotective. God made animals so we could have meet and not be malnourished.

  • fFiona MacMillan says:

    I agree with most of PETA’S aims but I disagree that cats should be kept indoors. Many cats are living with people who smoke and if kept indoors are forced to become passive smokers and veterinary research shows that this is giving cats cancer since not only do they breathe in the smoke but lick the carcinogens off their fur. A cat should be allowed to express natural behaviour and feel the breeze on its fur. We would go mad if we were forced to live indoors all our lives and I think it is cruel to keep a cat in and let it live and then die never having been outside to feel the breeze on its fur. It is like keeping a cat a prisoner to keep it indoors and never let it outside.

  • Ashley-P says:

    Hi Bartek, thanks for your comment! Cats should be allowed outdoors for walks on leashes, just as dogs are, and to explore securely fenced yards. A product called “Cat Fence-In,” a flexible mesh barrier that is placed at the top of a privacy fence, prevents cats from climbing out.

    Like dogs or small children, cats let outdoors without supervision are vulnerable to cars, other animals, cruel people, and disease. Feline leukemia, feline AIDS (FIV), feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), toxoplasmosis, distemper, heartworm, and rabies can be difficult to detect and, in the case of FIP and distemper, impossible to test for. Most of these ailments are highly contagious to other companion animals.

    Many people consider free-roaming cats pests. They do not want the cats to urinate, defecate, dig, eat plants, or kill birds on their properties. Free-roaming cats have been shot, poisoned, and stolen by angry neighbors.

    Fortunately, cats can live happy lives indoors.

  • Bartek says:

    The Cat and Rabbit Animal Shelter where I got my kitty not only insisted that she be allowed to go outdoors, but they paid a home visit to make sure there was a garden and way out for her. Obviously there is some debate about what is more humane.