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Need a little help from other cat lovers to settle a disagreement with a friend. My kitten is an indoor cat with plenty love and attention. My friend Scott thinks I am being really cruel and denying the cat his natural desires to be outside. This friend has a cat too who is allowed to roam free around its home which is surrounded by trees etc with LOTS of foxes etc. When Scott goes away on business for a long weekend he leaves the cat shut out the house to fend for itself, going on the theory it'll catch something if it's hungry. I said he'd no right to say I was cruel to my baby and he should provide his cat with some care when he's away. Hence the BIG disagreement. Whatcha all think?
 

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I Honestly feel if it dangerous for you cat to be outside, don't let it out. I had the same argument with my fiance' this morning, My baby girl Willow managed to get out when Ian was putting rubbish out, I managed to get her back in but Ian said I should let her out if thats what she wants problem is I live near a really busy road so I feel better if I can keep her indoors. I'm sorry but I think leaving the cat to fend for itself is cruel not when it is used to being fed by a human
 

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It depends where you live. I let all my cats go out, but i live in a very quiet area, which is a dead end so we get no thru traffic.
If you feel it is not safe to be outside for your cat then dont let her out. Foxes, taffic allsorts can lead to you loosing your cat. IF she gets plenty of exercise then she will be fine indoor.

You should inform your friend that HE is the cruel one leaving a cat to fend for itself while he goes away.
 

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Ah, time for a reality check!

Here are just a few of the things that can happen to a cat who's allowed to roam free. It can be:

-Injured or killed (and eaten) by a predator (fox, coyote, hawk, owl, etc.--common even in cities, even in large cities! I lived in the middle of Denver, yet came home one night to find a very large coyote walking down the middle of the street! Now where I live, there is no longer a "stray" dog and cat problem since 2 bears and a family of 4 mountain lions moved in! If you're in a rural area, you have many predators)
-Injured in a fight with another cat (or other animal such as a raccoon)
-Catch disease from other cats (FIV in particular but any infectious disease)
-Hit by car, truck, motorcycle
-Attacked by dog(s)
-Stolen to be torn apart as "live bait" for training fighting dogs (common, especially if you live near a good-sized city)
-Stolen to be sold to a lab for "research" (common; the low-lifes that do this are called "Class B dealers")
-Stolen to be sold to a biological laboratory for dissection
-Stolen, killed and eaten by people (certain cultural groups find friendly free-roaming cats to be a free, convenient source of meat)
-Abused by juvenile delinquents of any age--beaten, set on fire, thrown against a wall, shot, stabbed, sexually abused, dissected alive, etc. All of these are common and well documented. I've personally seen cases of most of these. A kitten with a fractured femur that the orthopedic specialist was due to a blow from above. Another kitten with signs of sexual abuse. Another kitten rescued by a street person from a group of kids who were throwing him against a brick wall for fun. Numerous cats with BB or gunshot wounds. Then there were the dogs (a mom and puppies) in Denver who were recently set on fire. And the kitten put onto a hot barbecue grill for a few laughs; rescued by a neighbor, it survived for a few excruciatingly painful hours. Wouldn't that be fun for your friend's cat?

The average lifespan of an indoor cat is 15-18 years. For a cat allowed to go outdoors: 3-5 years (optimistic by some accounts). Above are some of the reasons why!

A cat who has never been outdoors doesn't have the slightest clue that there *is* an outdoors. I think when they look out a window, it must be like "kitty TV" to them; with smell-o-vision if the window is open! :wink:
You can't miss what you don't know about. Is your friend suffering from not being able to participate in the thousands of activities he's never heard of?

It is illegal in nearly all states to leave an animal for any period of time without adequate food or water. The law calls it animal cruelty.

I think he's just plain irresponsible. He evidently does not care much about his cat--whatever he may say, his heartless, careless actions demonstrate it very clearly.

Cheers,
Dr. Jean
 

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I think it's awful of anyone to leave their cat outside for longer than it wants to be, especially for a matter of days.

I don't let my cats outside, and the rest of my cats will be indoor kitties. Our first group of cats were let in and out as they pleased. When one was hit by a car, we decided that all future cats would be indoor only, and they are. I think Dr. Jean posted a very nice list of reasons why cats should not be outside, but

drjean said:
-Stolen, killed and eaten by people (certain cultural groups find friendly free-roaming cats to be a free, convenient source of meat)
that seems like more of an Urban Legend than anything. I'd imagine that if it does happen at all, it's a very rare occurance :?
 

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I think your friend is wrong a cat should be part of the family when we go away on holiday we always get a friend to look in and feed our pets. As to question should a cat be allowed out or not depends on where you live and the practicalities of letting the cat out and in. We live in a cul-de-sac on a quiet estate in a village so it is quite safe for Oliver to go out.
 

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Re cats being killed and eaten, this happened right here in Boulder, Colorado, which is why I mentioned it. I don't know how rare it is. For some cultures it's perfectly normal behavior. It is illegal in many states, but that's a different issue. I eat beef, which would horrify a Hindu. Others eat pork, which is taboo in Islam and Judaism. Horsemeat is a delicacy in Europe, but few Americans would touch it. I'm appalled by the some of the eating habits of people in my own culture--veal or snails, for instance (I would never make it on "Survivor"!). :lol:

In any case, I certainly would not want to take even the remotest chance that one of my cats would end up as soup!

It is never "quite safe" for a cat to go out. Can you (or anyone) guarantee that there are no foxes, owls, hawks, or other predators in the area that could grab your cat? Zero stray dogs--ever--that could injure him? Not a single other loose cat (owned or feral) that he could fight with and be hurt by, or contract FIV? If you think he is safe outside, you're only fooling yourself. Unfortunately, that illusion could mean life or death to your cat.

Rural cats are in at least as much danger as city cats; the dangers are just a little different. Less chance of being hit by a car, but more dangerous predators. A hawk or owl can easily take a cat, and they do.

When your outdoor cat just doesn't come home one day, you may never know why, and you will only be able to hope and pray that his death was quick and painless.

For those who really want to give their cats the outdoor experience, it *can* be done without the risk. Consider cat-fencing or building an outdoor cat enclosure. It doesn't have to be big. But it will keep your cat in, and danger out. We have a couple of examples in our newsletter (I believe in the Oct & Nov issues), and we are working on a page that will have many more illustrations. http://www.littlebigcat.com/index.php?action=nlarchive.

Cheers,
Dr. Jean
 

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drjean said:
Re cats being killed and eaten, this happened right here in Boulder, Colorado, which is why I mentioned it. I don't know how rare it is. For some cultures it's perfectly normal behavior. It is illegal in many states, but that's a different issue. I eat beef, which would horrify a Hindu. Others eat pork, which is taboo in Islam and Judaism. Horsemeat is a delicacy in Europe, but few Americans would touch it.
Lol :) That reminded me of my French professor last year. Someone said that they'd heard that French people ate horse meat, and they wanted to know if he ate it (he's French, and only comes to the US one semester a year to teach). He was confused and said he didn't know anyone who'd eaten horse meat.

In much the same way, it seems that most Chinese people don't eat cats. I assume that's the cultural group you were referring to, as it's the only one I've ever heard about in relation to cat eating. It's a very uncommon practice, and many Chinese aren't even interested in eating cats. Here's a thread on another forum discussing the subject:
http://www.chinese-forums.com/viewtopic.php?p=5701

Obviously, it happens. And if it happened in Boulder, then it is a risk for American kitties. But it's probably not very likely... Like getting struck by lightning. Oh, we should add "Could get struck by lightning" to the list of risks outdoor cats face. Seriously, it could happen.
 

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I think it's a matter of where you live and how much time you devote to the attention of your cats while outside.

We live in a fairly quiet neighborhood in a relatively small town (about 35,000) and have a fenced in backyard. We do live just a few houses away from one of the busier streets in town, though.

When we got our 2 cats, my husband and I at first decided to make them indoor-only cats. As time went on and the weather got nice outside we both felt guilty about them not getting fresh air and running and playing with the things that cats do.

From then on, we decided that we would take the cats outside ONLY if one of us was with them to watch them. Herbie is an excellent outdoor kitty. We never have to worry about him jumping the fence to run out. George on the other hand, is more adventurous and will, on the occasion, jump the fence if he can sneak it in. This IS why we decided not to let them out unsupervised. As soon as George jumps, my husband goes into the neighbor's yard and gets him. We've never once had trouble getting back into our own yard within 30 minutes (most of the time it only takes about 5 minutes) and he's never been out of our sight while running amuck either. He might tuck himself under the neighbor's bushes or something but eventually he gives in and is satisfied with coming back to our yard.

I know this isn't a feasible option for everyone, but we don't have any children to watch over (the cats are our children!) so it's easier for us to make time for them to be able to play outside.

If you can't be with your pets while they're outside I honestly don't know that I would be for it, but a lot of things have to play into the decision such as where you live, how busy things are, etc. All I know, is that the option we have chose works for us. George and Herbie love it outside. From about the end of March through the middle of October they know that when my husband comes home from work he's going to change into his everyday house clothes and take them outside for a bit (probably 30-45 minutes) They chase the birds that fly in and out of the trees, the squirrels, and Herbie even goes to the fence line in the back yard and talks with our neighbor's dog, a Boston Terrier! For both of them, their ultimate favorite time of the year is the fall, when all the trees start losing their leaves. Herbie jumps in and out of the leaves just like you can imagine a child doing! He even brought a couple in the house last fall and played with them for a while until they were so crumbled he couldn't pick them up anymore.

I don't think it's anyone's right to judge another pet owner on whether or not to let them outside. Just do what works for you, as long as you keep the best interests of the cat at heart! :)
 

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I just wanted to add one more thing. Let's not forget that cats, by NATURE, are outdoor animals. Just be sensible about it and if you have a cat, make sure it's within ear shot and don't do something like leave it out overnight.
 

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I think it's just fine for a cat to remain indoors most of the time. Yet, I do think that it's nice to let a cat out once in a while. Of course you'll need to supervise them in case they try to run away. I don't think it's nice to leave a cat outdoors while your gone.
 

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Outside is dangerous for all the reasons Dr Jean mentioned. In particular, cars, bugs they might catch from other animals, and cruel neighbours.

Cats can have a happy life indoors. A comfortable place where they can feel at home and a cat-parent who loves them.

Their hunting instincts can be exercised indoors. They'll happily rid your house of all cockroaches and other bugs if they stay indoors. We don't even have ants in our home anymore!

Friends and family will criticise and say things they think is right. Ultimately, as a cat-parent, you know better your cat's needs and what's best for him or her.

I'd say Scott is putting his cat in a lot of danger leaving him or her outside like that over the weekend. Now, that's cruelty.
 

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If this were a perfect world, it would be safe to allow our cats enjoy the outdoors. We could also let our two year olds play in the street, and noone would kidnap them or hit them with a car. Our teenagers could take the car out and never drink and drive and come home smiling every night. But that's a fairy tale, unfortunately. We can't run as fast as a cat who's determined to see the world. And cars are faster than cats. Some people go out of their way to hit them. Other cats and dogs might decide to attack, and cause an abscess. Finally, Kitty might make good friends with a cat with a serious disease. :(

How about a cat enclosure with a kitty door into the house? :)
 

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IMHO, "supervised" doesn't cut it either. If you think your mere presence is sufficient to protect your cat, you're only fooling yourself. Being within earshot? Great...you might be so lucky as to hear the squealing tires--and the thud.

Jackson tells a story about one of his clients who was outside one morning, standing on his deck, with his cat sitting right next to him. He was drinking his coffee and enjoying the sunrise. Suddenly he heard a funny noise and looked to see what it was. He saw, already a long ways off, a coyote with his cat IN ITS MOUTH--snatched from RIGHT NEXT TO HIS FOOT. The guy yelled, the coyote dropped the cat (who was, thankfully, not injured), and all concerned were definitely sadder, but hopefully wiser.

Coyotes are as fast as greyhounds. Are you?

Jackson (poor guy) also had the misfortune to actually witness a hawk carrying off a screaming cat.

Redtail hawks (average size for a hawk) have a four-and-a-half foot wingspan, dive at 120 miles per hour, and can fly quite a bit faster than you can run--even carrying a cat.

Ever try to stop a catfight? Wouldn't recommend it.

Face it--as a human, you simply do not have the ability to react in time to stop EVERYTHING that could possibly happen to your cat.

Granted, a few cats live long and happy lives outside. My neighbor's outdoor cat was 15. They got a kitten. Sweetest little black kitty you ever saw. Let him out immediately, I guess he was about 10 or 12 weeks old. I complained. They said their older cat would teach him to be street smart. Guess he was a slow learner, because he died right in front of their house, killed by a car on our very busy street long before his first birthday.

My upstairs neighbor's cat, Boots, was sitting on his own porch one summer day, just 2 weeks before his 20th birthday. We had a big party planned for him. He was attacked and torn apart by two pit bulls, who played tug-of-war with his broken body. Unfortunately, he was not killed outright, but was privileged to suffer for a few hours until he was euthanized. Happy Birthday, dear sweet Boots. I miss you so much. I cry every time I think of you.

Think about this: when you have just a handful of cats who reach old age outside, how many other cats have to die very, very young to bring the average age of death down to less than 5?

None of these people wanted or expected these hideous deaths for their beloved cats. But all of this suffering could have been prevented by one simple thing: keep them inside. It's your choice, but it's your cat's life.
 

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average lifespan of American feral / stray cat- 5 years
average lifespan of American indoor cat- 12-22 years

I can't recall the indoor / outdoor figures, but they were mid-range between 5 and 12 years.

At the veterinary hospital where I work, (I'm not a vet, just a kennel attendant), I see *many* indoor cats in their late teens and twenties.. we're currently boarding a cat born in 1987, and last week, one of the doctors euthanized a cat born in 1979. On the flip side, I also see hordes of VERY young cats dropped off dead or dying as a result of massive parasite infestations, FIV, MVAs, having been attacked by dogs, cats, wild animals, you name it.

Nicholas (the older of my two cats) loves the outdoors, so I compromise by taking him for occasional walks on a harness. My other cat, Tyson, spent the first 7-9 months of his life outdoors as a feral, (where he was severely mauled by a wild animal- what's left of his tail was broken in several places, and he has bite scars all over his face and body), and he wants absolutely nothing to do with it.
 

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I'm sorry that Tyson went through that, but I'm glad you saved him. I'm sure you have loads of patience. I'm also sure the satisfaction and love you feel makes it worth the time.
 

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I have found it's impossible for me to keep all my cats inside. It is a personal thing, and I respect those who are able to do so. I have been lucky to live in places where my home is in areas not heavily trafficked. As a matter of fact when my husband and I lived in a large apartment complex, our cat Harley was even allowed into the leasing office where he often charmed the prospective renters and generally made a nuisance of himself. He loved it and so did the staff. I know I have been lucky!
 
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