Why do you let your cat roam ?

toomuchglassMay 1, 2011

This is by no means a debate about letting cats roam --- I've read rantings and ravings about 'the right ' to let cats roam.... and I'm tired of it. I just wanted to ask simple questions that I've never heard answered .

I'm actually a dog person -- but have had indoor cats all my life. I support the "Happy Endings" cat rescue here .... and would do anything to save a kitty . All my friends are "cat people" ! LOL Now you know I'm not trying to cause a debate .

SOme let their cats out - some don't. I've had the sad mission a couple of times to go out and look for my friend's cats when they didn't come home. I always prayed I didn't find them dead in the street. Usually - they were never found. My friend was devistated each time . That made me wonder why people let their cats out to roam - unprotected . THere's so many dangers out there .Like I said - my cats were indoor - so I'd like to ask the questions here with alot of pet lovers. Who knows ? -- I might rescue a few cats again !!

*** Here's my questions ~~

* Do cats automatically remember where they live to find their way back ?

* IS there an average time they stay away ?

* Do they make a fuss to go out side ?

* Does being fixed matter if they want to go out ?

* Is there something they like to eat outside ?

* Is it just for exercise - to keep from being bored ?

* Do you worry if they don't return within a certain time ?

* What if they didn't come home ?

* Do you worry about someone else thinking it's feral and keeping it ?

* Are you worried if it comes home with fleas or ticks ?

I've never asked these questions before of anyone - thank you for your replies . You're educating people !

Thank you for that !

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I do not let my cats roam but here is how I would answer your questions.
* Do cats automatically remember where they live to find their way back ? - If they lived there for a while,yes.

* IS there an average time they stay away ? - Don't know.

* Do they make a fuss to go out side ? - Two of our four do and one slips out every chance he gets. He gets to the neighbors yard before I catch up with him.

* Does being fixed matter if they want to go out ? I don't think so.

* Is there something they like to eat outside ? Grass, our escapee heads straight to my chives.

* Is it just for exercise - to keep from being bored ? -Wouldn't know why people do it.

* Do you worry if they don't return within a certain time ? - I would.
* What if they didn't come home ? - Search high and low.

* Do you worry about someone else thinking it's feral and keeping it ? - Definitely. Three of ours were found but none of them were feral. In two cases the neighbors said "Oh, he has been around for weeks." All were skinny and filthy. The fourth one was born feral and we rescued him when he was about 6 weeks old. He was nearly dead.

* Are you worried if it comes home with fleas or ticks ? -Would my cats roam they would definitely have flea and tick control.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 7:43AM
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spedigrees z4VT

I've had cats since the 1950s and all but one (of 6 cats) lived to old age. The one who didn't died at age 10 from an injury (probably an accidental kick from a horse.) All my cats were indoor/outdoor for most of their lives.

The risks to a cat from outdoor living are dependant on their living environment. The Siamese cat I had as a kid spent the early part of his life as an indoor kitty while we lived next to a busy highway. He was allowed to go outdoors when we moved to a quiet neighborhood with very little traffic. Our first two cats when we were married lived indoors in city apartments in Boston. When we moved to rural Vermont on a dirt road they became indoor/outdoor. The three cats we've had since have also been indoor/outdoor except in their last year or two.

My cats lived to ages 17, 23, 10, 22, 21, and our current kitty is 18 yrs young. That puts the average life expectancy of our indoor/outdoor cats at 18 1/2 yrs. However I expect this number to rise, as I fully expect our present cat to live to at least 20 or beyond.

There are risks but also health benefits to access to the outdoors for a cat. Sunlight, exercise, and a natural prey diet (in part) are benefits not bestowed by an indoor environment. However if one lives in an area with a lot of motor vehicle traffic or other known dangers, then risk assessment dictates that a cat will live longer when confined to the indoors. Also it worth a mention that statistics for longevity of outdoor cats often bandied about, include feral cats who have never seen a veterinarian or shelter in inclement weather.

The outdoors is a cat's natural environment, just as being on pasture and not stalled in a barn is natural for a horse. Cats are certainly happier when they are allowed to roam and to hunt; they are carnivores designed to pursue rodents and small game. It is as natural for a cat to hunt as it is for a horse to graze on grass. If a cat is indoor only, then screen porches and cat toys have to substitute for their natural environment and hunting instincts.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 5:39PM
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spedigrees z4VT

I'm looking closer at your other questions and see I missed several.

An unneutered male cat will roam much further afield in search of mates, and this poses a danger. Neutered and spayed cats tend to have a set home territory. All my cats have been altered.

Yes cats eat small game that they catch, as well as nibbling at certain plants and grasses that are probably a source of vitamins. I have always ascribed the long lives of my cats and horses to the fact that both have dined, at least in large part, on their natural diet, ie the fresh killed prey of a carnivore, and the mixed pasture grasses of an herbivore.

The expense of de-worming and flea/tick control is a bit more for indoor/outdoor pets. I don't really notice it because I keep mine (dogs AND cats) on monthly heartworm and flea/tick preventatives, and I de-worm everyone 3 or 4 times yearly. Therefore parasites are not a problem. However even indoor cats can get fleas, ticks and heartworm. These nasty critters can always find a way into a house.

My cats ask to be let out and I oblige when they ask. But yes they would make a huge fuss if the door remained shut, at least until they figured out they were being permanently confined. At our previous home we had a pet door.

My cat is frequently gone most of the day or night in summer. Now that she's older she spends most of her outdoor time sleeping on the rocking chair on the front porch. I expect this will be her last summer going outdoors. Usually in their late teens or early 20s they stop wanting to go out and I stop letting them out for fear their sight, hearing, and reflexes aren't what they used to be.

No I don't worry anyone will decide to adopt my cat. Everyone in the neighborhood knows she is mine, and even if someone snatched her up temporarily she would certainly return home as soon as they let her out. A microchip would be a good idea for a cat I suppose, but my cat's roaming days are numbered now. (My next cat will be an old rescue cat who will probably be an indoor kitty since it will not have lived with me all its life and thus not be strongly oriented to its new home as my previous cats were. Still a chip might be wise even for an indoor kitty. Something I'll have to consider.)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 6:11PM
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spedigrees z4VT

And one last question that I missed. All cats want to go out because it is in their nature to explore and to hunt. However cats that are not spayed or neutered will have the additional biological motivation to mate, and thus are probably more driven to get out of the house.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 6:17PM
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Thanks for the replies . I always wanted to know why -- but didn't want to start an inside vs. outside debate.
I live in the city -- I see too many cats that must not have known about busy streets. Poor things. I think if I ever rescue another kitty , he's getting tied up outside so he can safely have the best of both worlds !

PS - a cat that like chives ??? LOL

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 6:59PM
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Not only chives, any kind of lettuce, celery leaves even cilantro are fair game. Tonight he was munching spinach. Does leave house plants alone.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 8:22PM
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I don't know if you are serious or not but NEVER, NEVER tie up a cat outside unattended. They are sitting ducks for dogs and other predators.

My Burmese cat only goes outside on a leash with me close by her side. She loves being outside on nice days but is afraid of big dogs and has no survival instincts in the outdoors. The middle of the street is her favorite resting place.

I know some cats do have better outdoor skills and they seem to do OK, but all responsible vets and those involved in cat adoption recommend indoor life only.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 12:20PM
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I used to let my cats be indoor/outdoor cats until I moved to a rural area. In my area, there are too many dangers for me to want to let my pets deal with ... coyotes, bobcat, fox, raccoons, other feral barn cats.

I do though have a feral barn cat, I got her from a rescue group looking for barn homes to place cats they couldn't socialize into pets ... her name is barn cat and she is not approachable, she is not a pet. She's been here for 4 years, longer than I thought she would be. She came with another cat that disappeared the end of the 1st year. I hope she found another barn she liked better.

My housecats are my pets, along with my dogs ... part of my family. 2 of the 4 cats actually were living in my barn for a while, they were not feral, someone "dropped them off". They came into the house and have never shown any indication they wanted to go out again ... none of my cats do.

So I don't worry about the dangers or the cat fights, the abcesses, the fleas or the ticks. That's my personal choice, I sleep better at night with my 4 cats sharing my king-sized bed. I have nothing against people who allow their cats otside, that's their choice.

Someday I'd like to build one of those large caged area's where they could explore outside, but is attached to the house.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 12:46PM
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Ooops - I was really being serious about tying a cat up ouside . My yard is totally fenced in and safe - the only thing that comes is in an occasional squirrel or bird. There's no toxic plants anywhere near my yard. There's no where for a small rope to get caught on . I thought that would be a great idea for sunshine and exercise in nice weather. I'm in and out of the house & yard many times a day - I certainly would keep an eye open !

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 2:01PM
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* Do cats automatically remember where they live to find their way back ?
No, cats dont automatically KNOW their way back home, if you watch a cat when it first goes outside, it hangs around its home learning scents and gathers visual cues as it wanders farther from home it will stop and gather more information.
* IS there an average time they stay away ? No, every cat is different
* Do they make a fuss to go out side ? Some do some dont
* Does being fixed matter if they want to go out ? YES ABSOLUTELY - the urge to mate in an intact animal - any animal is huge. They will forgo food to mate and when the urge hits they are flooded with hormones - it is all they think about.
* Is there something they like to eat outside ? Yes, Birds, lizards, insects and some types of plants. Unfortunately a cat is not out to just eat when it goes outside, it has a hunting instinct and will kill just to kill negatively impacting the natural resources in its environment - endangered or not.
* Is it just for exercise - to keep from being bored ? A cat can get just as much exercise inside as outside. Bored is a term people use for not being stimulated enough and while a pet may not have enough stimulation I dont think bored is the correct term. Humans have a way of thinking animals think and feel the way we do. It is how people and pets get into trouble.
* Do you worry if they don't return within a certain time ? Since the dangers to house cats is high once they do go outside in any environment, to avoid becoming worried cats should remain inside
* What if they didn't come home ? Pets have alot of possible reasons why they dont come home. Illness, being stolen, getting killed by native animals, cats being killed by dogs, getting trapped or suffering an injury where nobody can hear or see them in order to rescue them, being poisoned, shot at or run over.
* Do you worry about someone else thinking it's feral and keeping it ? Feral cats and domesticated cats act very differently. I know at least 3 people who have gained a cat as a pet by finding it wandering by where my friends worked or lived, and they kept it as an indoor cat. One was a beautiful Seal Point Siamese - probably cost the original owner a pretty penny to purchase the cat originally and I can not imagine the anxiety they felt when their cat did not come home. They will never know if their cat lived or died.
* Are you worried if it comes home with fleas or ticks ? Any pet allowed to roam without constraints can come home with a dozen problems, healthy fleas being the least of the lot. Ticks - which may carry Lymes or Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, Distemper, Rabies, Feline leukemia, an injury, Hanta Virus or plague infested fleas. I saw a television program on tranferrable diseases and one episode was about how a young girl had suffered a serious illness she got from her cat who had been outdoors for a couple of days, the cat came home and the little girl had the cat sleep with her and apparently the illness came from having the infected cat breathing close to the little girl. Scary.
The thing I wrote about happen everyday somewhere in America, they are real problems that cat owners may face when letting their cats roam.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 2:25PM
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I've owned cats that never cared for the outdoors and I've had cats that hated to be inside the house. The ones that roamed the furthest always ended up killed by something and they also were the strongest hunters and routinely brought home wildlife food (some were better bird hunters and others were more into snakes and lizards). But the one thing I noticed is that none of them acted the same their entire lives, some wimpy hunters got really good at it later in life while some big hunters lost interest when they aged.

The way my yard is now, I would never own a indoor/outdoor cat that hunts. I like having lizards and songbirds in the yard. My current cat is allowed to sleep in the sun of the back door area but she is in her twenties and doesn't move much. I understand that she is a sitting duck for any sort of cat killing predator but she enjoys eating grass and sleeping all day in the sun so much that I am giving that to her while I am away at work - she is such a messy housecat that it gives me a break to have her spending most of the day outside, where I don't have to clean up after her.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 2:44PM
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