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Hi Everyone. I have a cat problem I haven't been able to resolve.

I've had cats my whole life but have never had indoor-only cats ... until now and I'm not happy with it. I live on 2 acres outside of town with lots of trees and places for them to play. I've used pet doors to allow them to go and come as they please. For 20 years, no problems. Then, one of my cats (Shadow) passed away at 24 yrs old followed a year or so later by Junior who passed away at 17 yrs old. They loved being able to go in and out when they pleased and I always loved having them around while I was outside doing things.

After my best friends passed away, I adopted 2 kittens -- Maxwell and Abigail (4 and 8 wks old, respectively). When they were old enough to use the pet door, they also loved being able to go in and out -- especially since I'm at work all day and they were by themselves. Here's a very sad part: when Maxwell was about a year and a half, he was playing in the back yard on a Saturday morning and, when he hadn't come inside to check on me in a while (which was his practice), I went out to look for him and found him lying in the back yard -- someone had shot him. Most likely a pellent gun or .22 rifle. I can't express online what that did to me but you can probably imagine. Shortly after that experience Abby and I welcomed a new member to our family -- Murphy. He was about 6-8 months younger than Abby by that time.

My problem is that, after the experience I had with Maxwell, I decided my cats would never again go outside. This was very hard on all of us. It's not just Maxwell being shot, though, that concerns me. I was told by a neighbor when I first moved out there that she had lost 3 cats to the owls. I was surprised because I'd never heard of that and thought cats would be too big, but she said that wasn't the case and to be really careful. But over the years the older two cats had never had a problem.

I'm not sure if I'm worrying and/or over-reacting about the owl/predator issue or not. But after going through what I did after Maxwell died, I don't think I could handle losing one of my precious, loving cats again. Passing away due to old age I can deal with but not a violent death. I've finally gotten to the point where I let them play outside as long as I'm watching over them -- usually every few days or so for about an hour or so. They love it and want out more.

I'd sure appreciate some opinions if anyone has any thoughts about this.

Thanks very much ... Robin
 

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You can search "indoor outdoor" on the forum to see all the threads on the subject. As you'll see, some of the threads end up being closed because of arguments and strong feelings on the subject, so the last thing we need is another debate.

You know the risks and it's a decision you'll have to make for yourself, but it seems you've come to a good compromise, letting them out while you watch them.
 

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^^ Agreed with Marie. But.. I walk (I use the term "walk" loosely because it's usually just me trailing her as she sniffs everywhere) one of my cats, who was a former outdoor cat that I brought in and adopted, on a leash/harness. She loves it, it gives her the outdoor time she loves, and I know she is safe from the ferals and other dangers out being outdoors.

I can't imagine how terrible the loss of Maxwell could have been for you. I'm truly sorry. It is best for you to keep them indoors and supervised, preferably leashed, trips outdoors, so that bad things don't hapen.
 

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My personal opinion...if you live in a place where it is safe to let a cat out and have a cat who has the savvy and sense to handle being let out, then it's great.

That said, I can't think of any place I've ever lived that I'd let either of my cats outside. MowMow is such a giant marshmallow that the first loud noise he would dissolve into a puddle and frankly, I don't think he would want to go out on his own. When I walk him on the leash and he gets scared he's up on his hind legs begging for me to hold him... and that happens A LOT.

Shepherd Book...well, he would see something shiney and try to cross 10 lanes of traffic to check it out. Or he'd see some feral cat and think "COOOOL, I bet he wants to BESTESTESTEST friends!" Book is my errand boy. When I run out to the bank or for takeout I take Book with me for the ride. He's fascinated with everything and loves looking out the window (and getting bags of food from strangers). He's way to curious and nosy to be safe outside, imo.

I don't think I'd ever consider letting them out in a place where someone shot one of them...
 

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There's a lot of topics on this and strong opinions, usually for not allowing cats outdoors since in North America it isn't the popular opinion, especially if you live in a city. I think the best you can do is to decide what you're willing to live with in terms of quality of life vs quantity and then do that. We shouldn't sway your opinion.

What happened to Maxwell is tragic, sometimes people can be as dangerous as wild animals. Depending on your location predators can be a real problem. Where I live cars are the greatest danger but my cat avoids them totally so I don't worry, if I lived 10 miles away coyotes would be a problem and then my cat would not be allowed to go outside at night, perhaps not at all if not supervised. Location can make a huge difference in whether letting a cat outside is going to be relatively safe, and only you can weigh those dangers.

Also, some cats really take to the outdoors and that's something to keep in mind as well, some cats don't care for it while others live for it. Some cats explore everywhere (not so safe) while others never go more than 50 feet away from the house.
 

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Wow! Sounds like you've got a real psycho out there. I'd be more worried about the jerk with the gun than anything else. I feel so sorry for your poor kitty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you to everyone for your input. I find it very interesting that Indoor vs Outdoor seems such a controversial topic (wow!). I try to see both sides. I suppose it's partly what an owner is personally used to and partly the area in which you live. Since making the decision to keep "the kids" primarily inside, I started trying to change things a bit so they wouldn't be too bored.

For one thing, I'm finishing up a project I've been working on for them in my spare time. I have a pet door going from the utility room to a screened in back porch (it's pretty big -- lots of room). They obviously love it out there. But I'm making some additions. I'm screening in the area underneath the porch with some screen similar to the kind on a chain link fence. I've cut a hole in the floor of the porch about 1-foot square and made a little ladder-like ramp where they can go up and down from the porch to the ground. The ground underneath has been cleaned out and looks pretty good (for dirt!). Once the screening is complete, I plan to add some more things down there for them to play with.

However, for the time being, I think keeping them indoors is the best way to go (sadly). But at least there's no worrying about them.

Thank you all once again. And thank you also for the kind words about Maxwell.

... Robin
 

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Hello, this is my first post, I think!

I keep mine indoors because I am a big worrier (which is why I have the problem I have now, that comes later!)

I think it also cuts down on allergens. When my cats (now one cat) came into my home, my son was highly allergic when he visited us. After one year of being indoor only cat, my son's allergic reactions were almost non-existant. But he left the door open too long and one left!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks. I don't have any photos of it. I thought I'd see how it looked when I finished.

Normally, I'd have finished it by now but the drought started with the temperature in the upper 90s and 100s. I just couldn't handle the heat. That went on seemingly forever before we finally started getting a few showers off and on. Then, between the mosquitos and the northers and cold weather hitting, I haven't finished it all.

I'm hoping once we have the time change and I have more daylight after work I'll be able to finish it.

... Robin
 

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I love the porch idea. It would thrill me to have a safe outdoor area for my guys to enjoy fresh air and sun without me having to worry about them.

My only concern with the set up you are working on is the dirt under the porch..... I'd be worried it would become a giant litter box to them.
 

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Install a pool. Surround it with a pool cage. The you can put out chairs and build kitty cabannas.

Cats will come from all around to enjoy it. Seriously, they do.

 

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I've had an outdoor cat for 10 years, she is an ex-feral and she never strayed far from home, rarely outside the yard. It helped that she was a very loving affectionate cat and she began as a semi-indoors cat until she was 1 year old. She had to go outside though as she had a spraying problem and the vet said it was because of sex hormones from residual uterine tissue left over after her neutering.
 
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