Should cats be allowed to run free outdoors?

The New York Times has an interesting piece up by Maria Cramer that asks the question: Is it OK to let your pet cats roam free in your neighborhood?

You’ve seen them out there — well-fed cats, sometimes with collars on, stalking the streets like they own them or collapsing on a warm sidewalk to loll in the sun.

Cat lovers find them charming. Wildlife conservationists and bird lovers see furry killers and blame them for a decline in the bird population and the deaths of untold numbers of voles, chipmunks and other small animals.

How you feel about outdoor cats may also depend on where you are in the world. In the United States, about 81 percent of domestic cats are kept inside, according to a 2021 demographic study of pet cats. But elsewhere, it can be far more common to let them roam. In Denmark, only 17 percent of cats are strictly indoor pets, according to the same study. In Turkey, it is so common for feral cats to walk freely in and out of cafes, restaurants and markets that a documentary was made about the phenomenon. In Poland, they’ve recently been called an “invasive alien species.”

And in Britain, where the 2021 study said that 74 percent of cat owners let their felines roam outside, many cat charities advise pet owners on the best ways to keep cats safe outdoors. The idea might be shocking to their American counterparts, which often refuse to adopt cats to people who want to keep their pets outside.

“We’ve always done it that way,” said Nicky Trevorrow, a cat behaviorist at Cats Protection in Britain, which encourages owners to bring cats in at night and feed them high-quality diets to deter predatory behavior.

The subhed of the article: “To some, letting cats roam is unthinkable. To others, so is keeping them inside.”

If I had a cat, it would depend largely on the cat. Some cats are indoor cats ill-suited to the dangers of running free. Other cats will stand at the door and wail until they are let out.

Let’s not forget there are people out there who feel strongly that keeping pets is in itself an act of cruelty and no animal should be “forced” to live a domestic life.

I disagree, but they are out there ready to add their fervor to any debate about domesticated animals.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Brocken Inaglory, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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