September 06, 2002
Outdoor Cats

This one is for Phoxxe. You made a good point. I should say why I don't like outside cats.

I do not believe in outdoor cats. OR rather I should say, I do not believe in unsupervised outdoor cats (porch, leash, enclosed back yard with the owner *aka-servant* THERE). WHY? Many reasons. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing sweeter than watching a cat bask in the sun enjoying itself or taking a roll in the grass.

Being a Licensed Vet Tech, I have seen too many of the bad things that happen to outdoor cats. I have seen flattened cats (yes, the HBC-hit by car), I have seen *high rise syndrome cats*-fell out of apartment windows and balconies. I have seen cats with FELV, FIV, FIP (all ugly diseases in themselves). I have seen cats with ear mites and frost bite so bad that the externa pinna (flappy part) needed to be removed to nubs.

I have seen cats literally starving to death. I have seen kittens with paneleukopenia that look at you with pitiful eyes and ask you to end their suffering. I have seen cats and kittens with intestinal parasites so bad we had to perform enemas and/or witness them have blood diseases (anemia, babesia, ect.) I have seen cats with fleas so bad that they are totally limp and white as a ghost while you try to bathe them, keep them warm and do a blood transfusion because THEY WILL DIE if you don't. I have seen cats covered in maggots from an injury that went sour.

I have seen cats ripped apart by dogs, and other outside animals (racoons especially LOVE to rip the shit out of a cats face). I have seen cats with rabies. I have witnessed people crying to me that their cat(s) were eaten by a coyote.

I KNOW cats get stolen and used for dog fighting and lab experiments. I have seen the heartbreak of a family walking into the vet's office asking if its OK to place a *missing* flyer on your announcement board. I have seen cats with heartworm disease.

I have worked at animal shelters that cats come in with collars on that have NO tag and get adopted out to new homes. OR worse, they get put to sleep because there are too many cats.

There is not a summer that goes by that I am not lancing abcesses, debriding dead tissue, placing penrose drains, assiting in amputations- all due to cat fights, and people that ignore the injury. Then proceed to be yelled out by an outstanding bill. ( I love my cat! But this bill is outrageous! )

I can keep going, my list is endless. Now do you see why I don't like outdoor cats? If you don't I can keep going.

A small statistic for you. Did you know the average outside cat lifespan is 5 years? The average indoor cat lifespan is 16. Now tell me, which do you prefer?

Update: And you all think I am full of shit when I mentioned cats being fucked with by coyotes. Most of the time, the cat does not win.

Posted by Ellen at September 06, 2002 07:39 PM

eMail this entry!

Great entry. We've had many great cats, but until we finally got a strictly indoor cat, we never had a cat for more than a few years. Now we have a fat little slug called Babycakes who's gonna be around (and indoors) a long time...

Posted by: Dave Worley on September 6, 2002 11:46 PM

Hey thanks! When I was a kid growing up in NY we had cats that went in and out. One cat used to get an abcess once a year from a fight.

From that point on I did not like unsupervised outside cats.

Ive given my mom 2 of my clinic cats, but now she does not let them outside unsupervised on the back deck with all the areas to get out blocked off.

They have an outside afternoon session.

Posted by: Ellen on September 7, 2002 07:26 AM

You just never know what's waiting for a cat when it goes outside. Bears, coyotes, owls, hawks, stray dogs, foxes...and just this week an 8-foot long boa constrictor was captured after it escaped from someone's house.


Posted by: maru on September 7, 2002 09:23 AM

The complex here is fairly cat-friendly. Out chief outdoor cat, Nardo, stays on the porch or goes to look out at the pool or laundry room to check on the neighbors. Folks talk to him, he talks back. Every now and then there's an altercation, but for the most part it's peaceful.

And then he brings back lizards... for soup!

Posted by: Laurence Simon on September 7, 2002 10:38 AM

I may address this topic at length when I have more time. Briefly, I just want to say that my experience has been very different. Being a vet tech you naturally will see all the worst. Our oldest cat is 11 years old and healthy. We let her in and out as she desires but bring her in at night. Our other cats are younger and stay out most of the day so far they are healthy and have not sufferred any injuries even though we are surrounded by wildlife, including raccoons, possums and coyotes, and all our neighbors have dogs.

I did lose one cat at the age of 4, cause unknown. She was apparently healthy (had been to the vet only 3 months earlier) and there were no apparent injuries.

Posted by: Lynn on September 7, 2002 03:20 PM

In response to Lynn.
Your experience may be good, you and yours are obviously very lucky. But I would caution anyone who would suggest that cats are in any way safe in the great outdoors. I am not a vet nor do I work with one but I can tell you that if you want to swap ancedotal evidence there will be more people with lost and injured pets than not. It is irresponsible for someone to have an outdoor cat, you might as well feed him poison. I love my cats as most people do, but if you can't take a few months of curiosity and crying for the outdoors as some do when they decide they would like to be outside then you don't deserve to have them. It is like the people who feed soft food and treats until the cats teeth fall out. I am glad that you have been lucky...but keep in mind it is only good luck keeping your babies safe.
Pomme, Capri, and Lorenzo happy indoor kitties with harness and tether priveliges in the back yard in the warm months when Anna has time to supervise (read untangle) us.

Posted by: Anna Maria on September 11, 2002 05:04 PM

I have mixed feelings about this. My kitties are indoor beasties, and they'll stay that way. Of *course* it's safer. But the position that it's *inhumane* to keep animals outdoors strikes me wrong.

I know if I say anything about "natural habitat" I'll be quickly smitten with arguments about how cats are not wild, nor is our domesticated environment natural for a cat. :)

But. I, too, had good experiences with outdoor cats while I was growing up -- one of whom lived to be 17. I know part of that was luck. Part of it was that they were barn cats, and bred to the outdoors, so to speak. Part of it was also our location, and the fact that we did take care of them -- if they got hurt, my god, I can't imagine letting their hurts go untreated or left out if it were cold enough to get frostbite (I live in California, where that's pretty much unheard of). We kept them close to home with frequent feedings, and brushings, and attention.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I believe in middle ground. I don't think it's inhumane to have outdoor cats, I just think it's a bad idea.

Posted by: Jessa June on September 12, 2002 07:56 PM

I just had to add that last night when I was picking up my Capri from a teeth cleaning my Vets office was in a panic. I have never been there when an accident victim was brought in. It was a horrifying sight and I didn't see much. The kitten had been hit by a car at the edge of her driveway in full view of the kids, they were all crying and the mother looked like she was gong to lose it. I realize this is ancedotal evidence..but it is the kind of image that will never let me accept the middle ground as much as I might like to.

Posted by: Anna Maria on September 13, 2002 09:13 AM

Are cats susceptible to West Nile virus?

Posted by: Robert UK on September 13, 2002 07:53 PM

Good question!!! Who knows yet! There has been cases of West Nile virus in horses so far so you never know! I would gander that they potentially could.

If cats can get heartworm disease from a mosquito, I would not pass off the chance of west nile virus either. Most cases of west nile virus are in people and pets are in the eldery or the immune compromised (as the research has been saying).

Great question though!

Posted by: Ellen on September 13, 2002 08:00 PM

Finally! Someone who believes in indoor-only cats! I have six, all fixed (youngest just went today - it's the first time I've ever fixed a white male, and his privates look *awful*...the blood and stitches were hidden on our gray and black boys), all indoor-only, all fed on premium food, yadda yadda. Boy have I ever heard it from my Hubby and our families for treating the cats this way! It's nice to know I'm not alone =)

Posted by: Pam on December 2, 2002 09:38 PM

I don't know if this is the right web site to ask this question, but my cat he was lost in the woods for like 16 hours on a day that was really windy a cold. Well we found him and a couple days later noticed his ear had frost bite and it was all scabed up, so I kept putting lotion on it to help it heal. Most of it healed but today the top of it fell off and I was wondering what I should to it so it does not get infected.

Posted by: Catherine on March 28, 2003 01:21 AM

I am not for or against these comments. I have seent he ups and downs of inside and outside cats. I have lost one due to coyotes. I have one who was primarily indoors and decided to eat one of my sons small toys-needless to say he cost me $300 to have the part removed from his intestines. I have another who is indoors and has allergies and regurgitates his food all the time because he is a glutten. I have one inside/outside cat who has had no health problems and stays right around my house. Needless to say, cats are not always safer inside!

Posted by: Tammy on February 24, 2004 12:18 AM

I have visited with my new babies(five years old) at the shelter everyday. I will pick them up at my Vet's clinic Thursday after a bath and annual check up. I have purchased everything from a kitty condo(small one I couldn't lug in the big ones) to name tags. I have been very carefully taught - my babies paws will never touch the ground unless they are on a leash. Of course my dogs were treated the same way. It makes me furious for people to have pets and not take care of them.BTW I am Ellens favorite MIL, at least I hope I am. lol

Posted by: Pat on February 24, 2004 05:41 PM

I have six cats all of them were brought in as abandon or strays at a very young age with the exception of one. He was feral, and about six months old when we found him. He is now,six months later, tame enough that he spends most of his time inside. I do let him out when he wants because it seems cruel to keep him in after being outside for so long. I would never dream of letting my other cats out but I do let him. Every time he goes out I worry that he won't come back or that he'll be badly injured. Is it inhumane to take an outside cat that is feral, tame him, and then keep him indoors only? He is (now) an extremely affectionate cat and very close to the entire family. I have also had him fixed and he has all of his vaccinations. Still, he has already been in numerous cat fights and we live right next to the main road. I don't know what to do. He also has a brother that is feral and that we were never able to tame. We feed him and have given him shelter on our porch over the winter. The two are very close and actually call to each other at the door. I hate the thought of seperating them. What is the right thing to do in this situation? Indoor? Outdoor? Or Indoor-outdoor?

Posted by: Lisa on March 3, 2004 03:53 PM

About 2 or 3 years ago my cats use to go in and out as they pleased. They would lay in the backyard and sun beathe for hours, Jazzmen would try to catch himself a bird, which he did a couple of times, birds, moles..., my mother loved recieveing her little presents and she thanked him by screaming for me to come and get rid of it. I saw nothing wrong with cats eing outside as long as they were spayed or neutered that is the main thing one thing we dont is is more ferel cats! My older cat lived to be about 12 he was a tough alley cat who would leave for days and then come back all banged up, never serious and we always took him to the vet to make sure he was ok. but he didnt die from being outside he died from nautral causes. Now i volunteer at an animal shelter and i see what happens to some outside cats, everytime i see a dead cat on the road i feel like crying it is horrible. Outside cats can be very bad but there are just some cats that need to be outside, they crave it, i believe as long as you make sure you check on them and get them fixed for sure you can let the cat outside.

Posted by: becky on March 18, 2004 10:14 AM

hey there, i do believe that cats do want to be outside as well as in the house. it is a cats natural instinct to hunt and climb trees. i would not want to stay in the house all the time without a breath of fresh air, but its a persons choice to make dicesions about there cats because animals can not make choices for thereselves.

Posted by: angelia wren on June 22, 2004 08:22 PM

I understand what you are saying. My cats--all rescues--have always gone out.They have the sun, the trees,the fields--but theres a down side I know. But I would no sooner keep a cat indoors forever that I would my dog--and everyone knows dogs should have walks.Dogs of course should not roam,thats the diffrence I suppose.

Posted by: barbara green on June 23, 2004 04:33 AM

Just a few more words--can't write much or--for soem reason--it doesn't post--
people up the road are considered cruel--which they are--for not walking their dogs.I could stay in all day and be safe provided my house didn't blow up or something. When I go out I can be murdered, run down by a truck,catch a nasty disease,or mugged etc. Just a thought.

Posted by: barbara green on June 23, 2004 01:02 PM

Just my two cents here. My experience with my cats has been that we have fewer injuries when they are allowed out. I live in an extremely rural area and have had all of my cats live to ripe old ages with only one getting injured whilst outside (he attepted to fly over my garden and landed wrong, had some muscle damage). In fact, all of the major injuries I have had to deal with have been from my cats being kept indoors. Abcesses from fighting, eating foriegn objects, leaping from shelves they shouldnt even have managed to climb up to,more fighting, etc. And I own a huge old farmhouse, so there is plenty of room for the kitties to have their own space even if they do decide to stay in, they just seem to go out of the way some days to pick a fight.

My cats get a choice and they have all but two chosen the in and out life style.

Posted by: S. Fraser on July 3, 2004 01:56 PM

Mine also have two choices. As I said before, we could all remain "safe" if we never went out. It never occured to me to keep my cats in actually, though I did move house so I was away from busy roads, and all my rescued cats I rehomed in the past had the homes checked first to ensure they are in a suitable location,though sadly,cat and other animals, as well as poeple, can be victims of road traffic accidents.This lot are lounging in the conservatory now, having come in from the rain!

Posted by: barbara green on July 3, 2004 05:30 PM

People here in the Metroploitan area have been advised that there is a coyote problem now. Just another reason for the cats to STAY IN. Ever see a cat ripped apart by a coyote? I have. Not much cat left.

Posted by: Ellen on July 3, 2004 06:25 PM

As I said, it depends on where you live. Of course you should keep your cap in if you live near a busy road or there are cerain animals outside that put cats at risk,.Also outside cats are a risk to other creatures like birds and mice,so thats another point.Still, my cats are in a low risk area and have a lovely garden and fields at the back. What worries me is the horse and its foal kept outside all the time in the field!

Posted by: barbara green on July 4, 2004 02:16 AM

Just wanted to say that I absolutely agree with everything you said - and it doesn't matter where you live, really, there are always risks. But I did want to say that FIP is not necessarily an outdoor-cat disease...I lost a cat to FIP who had never been outside in his entire life, and we'd had him since birth. I swear I read up so much on that disease that I know more about it than my vet =p

Posted by: Dea on July 5, 2004 09:38 PM

I also hate to see birds in cages and fish in small tanks etc.I don't like people who don't walk their dogs or at the other extreme let them roam. When I was by a busy road I also took my cta for a walk on a lead--not easy--spent much time up trees and in awkward places--its not quite the same. Must go now and walk the dog, cats in the conservatory considering the weather!

Posted by: barbara green on July 6, 2004 02:43 AM

Everything you said made sense. But why stop at cats? The world is a dangerous place. Bacteria, viruses, parasites, wild animals, and potentially violent people could be out there anywhere. I don't know why I even go outside, maybe the bacteria on my own floors is friendlier. But dangers lurk there too. I am told that I should make sure guests never walk barefoot in my house, and that even if they keep their socks on, certain fungus may be introduced to my carpet. What is a girl to do. Maybe the toxins slowly released by the materials that constitute my house and fill the indoor air, are not such a bad thing afterall in comparison to the danger presented in the outside world. All this talk about my cat makes me think, maybe I should put shoes on my dog when I take him for a walk. And goodness knows, what am I thinking letting him have time to run free in my backyard. Who knows what he might catch by rolling on the lawn, I mean, Robins were hunting and pecking for worms there not an hour earlier. What if he finds a bug and eats it? It might be a poisonous species! Or he could get stung by a bee! And touching noses with my neighbour's dog through the fence, who knows what nose fluids carry. Or good heavens, there's a whole world of parasites waiting in the dirt, when he digs a little hole in my precious lawn. And world-wide studies that show that people need to spend more time outdoors in the developed world, clearly did not take into account the dangers of mixing with the outdoors, nature, and our surrounding world in general. And children! We have children! How will I ever let them out of the house?

Posted by: Rebecca E. on July 24, 2005 08:31 PM

I must admit I saw red when I read "It is irresponsible for someone to have an outdoor cat". Some may argue it's cruel to limit an animal like a cat to four walls. I'm reminded of the old saying "it's better to die on your feet than live on your knees".

Perhaps I'm lucky because I stay in the Highlands of Scotland. We have no coyotes, no bears and no snakes. Howard (now 11 years old) was feral when I got him. There's no way he would get used to being kept inside, and it would be cruel to do so.

I do appreciate that cats are safer being kept indoors, but to say it's "irresponsible" to let them out is too much.

Posted by: James Robson on October 16, 2005 06:36 PM

Outside Scotland, our roads are not dirt and being crossed by sheep, but by these motorized vehicles we call cars!

ps. All you people in Great Britian and the surrounding areas need to make up your mind about cats being inside or out. It either bitching about cats not being allowed to be cats and being outside or you bitch about them eating the birds. Make a choice. But when you see a cat come in for treatment for being hit by a car or mauled by a dog, then you really think the indoors is a much more pleasent thing.

Posted by: Ellen on October 16, 2005 08:21 PM

I've actually been very lucky with the cat that I currently have. I believe he'll be 5 or 6 this year. I live on a main road coming in to Centralia, WA. I've actually seen my cat look both ways before crossing the street. Our other cat (who's 1 yr. younger than my cat and a bit larger) doesn't go across the street. They play fight and throughly refuse to go outside if the weather is too nasty. My cat was an indoor cat from about 2000-2004 (she got him from a hmane society) when my mother surrendered him to me. She couldn't keep him any longer because the house she was moving into wouldn't accept cats, even a clean one like him. He loves the outdoors. But, I love keeping an eye out for him, even though he's a careful animal.

Posted by: panther on January 12, 2006 02:16 PM

I am about to adopt two 4 month old semi feral kittens, I am looking forward to the challenge but would like to hear from anyone who has had the priviledge? I have spent time in the sanctuary hand feeding them, but I did get a lot of hissing and a couple of little attempts at biting me!...I am told that they will tame with lots of TLC - I am very happy but understandably a little cautious....

Posted by: May on February 24, 2006 02:02 PM
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