Updated June 21, 2021

Cats Should Never be Treated as an Outdoor Pets

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Cats Should Never be Treated as an Outdoor Pets essay
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Throughout the world there many who either have or know of someone whom has enveloped an animal into their family. One of the most popular pets available are domestic cats, with an estimated 74 million living in homes in the United States alone (AVMA). Many owners are content to let their cats stay indoors, however, when a cat is allowed outdoors unsupervised the negative effects reach far past the garden fence. Taking into account the overpopulation due to unaltered breeding age cats, the decimation and extinction of wildlife, and the shortened life span of the unattended outdoor cats, there is a need for more public action to inform owners, and show lawmakers, of the dangers of letting cats run free.

Many people will tell you how they love kittens and enjoy interacting with them. Those people may not feel the same when one of their own cats come back home, after a night on the prowl with the neighborhood male cat, with a new litter of kittens on the way. Female cats reach sexual maturity at 4 months, can have two to three heat cycles a year, and have on average 4 kittens at a time (Bukowski & Aiello), all these factors can cause a population explosion if not taken care of in the beginning.. With 3.4 million cats entering shelters every year (Kitten Coalition), the need to make sure all cats are spayed and neutered should not be discussed just with veterinarians and shelter staff but with the whole community .

There are people who feed and shelter feral or community cats, but do not get the cats fixed due to fear of altering a someone’s family pet without permission, if their collar is missing, or they believe that they do not own the cats and do not need to take responsibility for them in such a manner. While they may believe their hands are tied in these situations, the people who feed these cats may unintentionally make the situation worse by giving cats the needed nutrition to create and sustain the next generation of stray kittens. Depending on where the cat feeders live the local ordinances may even consider them the owners due to the act of feeding, leaving them open to discipline if they do not follow the regulations of the area.

Cats are carnivores and predators by nature, hunting is something most cats know on a basic level. When left to their own devices outdoors, cats will continue this behavior on all matter of small animals. Some cat owners are familiar with having to clean up a dead bird left on the porch brought by the cat or of a half chewed mouse carcass by the water bowl. Cats kill around 480 million birds each year and are responsible for the extinction of 33 species around the world (Hildreth). The killing of these small animals then in turn begins to put the rest of the local ecosystem out of order once the niche they filled is now void.

Some cat lovers might say that it is cruel to keep cats indoors so they cannot act out on their hunting instincts and some others may be quick to bring up that cats keeps the rats and mice away. While cats have been used to aid in getting rid of rodents, a person cannot simply tell a cat to not hunt other animals because cats are animals and do not understand human languages. Companies have taken many great strides to create and sell cat toys to the masses, with many different types and styles depending on what every particular cat enjoys. Playing with cats indoors still gives them a positive outlet for their energy, and has the added benefit of creating bonding time between owner and pet, all the while keeping local wildlife safe from predation.

Common folklore speaks on how cats have nine lives that they use up one at a time in daring escapes from death until the lives are all used up. In actuality cats only have one life like all other creatures and can live to be on average 14 years of age (McKenzie),when taken care of properly . The most common causes the euthanasia of young cats are trama, with include car accidents that account for half of the documented cases, and viral disorders (McKenzie). When a cat leave the protective confines of their home there are a multitude of things that can put outdoor cats into an early grave; cars, dogs, humans, wildlife, and contagious parasites just to name a few. Leaving a cat to defend itself against all of these dangers, some of which cannot be considered natural, is inhumane when it can be easily avoided by keeping them at home.

Pro-Outdoor cat enthusiast may call it inhumane to keep a cat locked up in the house and insist that our feline friends deserve to live their life as naturally as possible, even if it means they die sooner. While some cats may never want to step outside the front door there are safe options for those cats that want to spend time out in the open air. Like with cat toys, companies have developed ways for cats to spend time in the outdoors, such as cat leashes and outdoor cat patios, under the supervision of their owners. Many people might be surprised at the sight of an owner walking their cat around the block but it also sends a message that cats do not have to be free roaming to have fun in the outdoors, and cats can be controlled on a leash just like most of us already expect dogs to be.

Many people enjoy the company of an animal companion at some point in their lives. Cats can be marvelous pets, given the effort and care can live happily with a family for many years. However the continual acceptance of cats staying outside the family home, leading to an exploding stray population, drastic ecological damage, and poor living conditions for the outside cats, has got to come to an end. Physical presence and action against this problem is needed to bring the problem to not just cat owners but all persons who can make positive changes to keep this from happening in the future.


  1. “U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics.” Avma.org, AVMA, www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Statistics/Pages/Market-research-statistics-US-pet-ownership.aspx.
  2. Bukowski, John A, and Susan Aiello. “Breeding and Reproduction of Cats – Cat Owners.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck, www.merckvetmanual.com/cat-owners/routine-care-and-breeding-of-cats/breeding-and-reproduction-of-cats.
  3. “Statistics.” Kitten Coalition, National Kitten Coalition, kittencoalition.org/news-events/statistics/.
  4. Hildreth, Aaron M, et al. “Feral Cats and Their Management.” Nebraska Extension Publications, NEBRASKA EXTENSION PUBLICATIONS, 12 Apr. 2010, extensionpubs.unl.edu/publication/9000016367320/feral-cats-and-their-management/.
  5. McKenzie, Brennen. “Longevity & Causes of Death in Pet Cats.” The SkeptVet, 9 Mar. 2015, skeptvet.com/Blog/2015/03/longevity-causes-of-death-in-pet-cats/.

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