One of the reasons my cats are indoor-only

It’s an eternal, no doubt unresolvable debate: Cats – indoors only or allowed to roam? Mine never go out, for several reasons. Recently I was forcibly reminded of one of them.

A few nights ago I was at the farm, having given the horses their late feeding, and was standing by the paddock gate, listening to the faint far night cries of coyotes, when suddenly, seemingly much closer (the nearest hayfield? locating sounds is chancy at night), there was a burst of excited coyote yapping, two terrible shrieks of a cat – then silence.

I yelled something after the first shriek, something really useful, like maybe “Hey!” which I daresay wasn’t even noticed, then walked out past the little pond and around the knoll in the moonlight, looking for – what? The mangled corpse of one of the barn cats, I suppose. Found nothing. All three of the barn cats were there the next day, and there are feral cats eking out an existence in the farm’s fields. A walk in the next day’s light around the knoll revealed no trace of whatever had happened the night before.

I still feel sad and a little sick whenever I think of it, and I think of it most nights when I do late feeding.

Poor kitty. :frowning:

My in-laws foolishly took their cat with them on an RV trip a couple of years ago. The cat ran out the door when they were at Prince Edward Island, and they never found him. I always hope that someone found him and took him in, but I always worry that he became coyote dinner.

Well, an outdoor cat is almost certainly going to suddenly, savagely end the lives of a lot of animals itself, if that puts it into perspective.

Oh, yes, I know that, Sailboat. What goes around comes around and all that.

Still, actually hearing the sudden, savage end of that cat’s life was a bit of a nasty shock.

IMHO indoor cats may live longer, but cats that can go outside live happier and a more full life, though it may be shorter.

It is like a person, yes if you keep it confined in a way that it’s needs are met it may live a long time, but a free person who can experience life may live shorter, but have a better life overall.

EddyTeddyFreddy - my cats are indoor-outdoor, but generally stay pretty close to the house. And with my big dogs, the coyotes stay pretty far away. But a couple times a year, my black and white cat Nick decides he wants to be a barn cat. I don’t feed him down there - he knows where the house and food bowls are. And he must do pretty well, because he’ll stay there for for a couple weeks. Three nights ago, the temps were really supposed to dip (it got down to 10 degrees), so I went down to the barn, threw down extra hay for the horses and called Nick. I carried him back to the house, with him struggling the whole way. I put him down inside, he ate a few bites of food, curled up on the bed, and it was like he’d never gone temporarily feral. Now he’s sitting on my lap and being all snuggly.


There is no reason to think this. Cats are happy when they have a warm place to sleep, food, some playtime and companionship.

Our cats have it really good in our new house - we were able to cat-proof our new yard, and they’re able to go out and run around in it in summer. The cat-proofing should probably have an asterisk; these are a 10 year old and a 13 year old with arthritis - I suspect if they were younger, we wouldn’t be getting away with the easy cat-proofing we’ve done. As it is, they go out, they eat some grass, they sniff around the yard, they bask in the sun and roll in the dirt - they don’t try to escape. A younger cat would have been up the tree and out of the yard in a flash.

Methinks you’re anthropomorphizing. DrDeth in my opinion is correct.

One of the three barn cats at the farm in fact almost never goes outside of the barn itself, though she’s free to roam as she wills. She stays close to where the food and water dishes and the cozy napping spots are. (Nickname: “Useless”.) The other two hunt, and I find small grisly half-eaten remains now and then, but they stick within a fairly tight range of the barn and come inside it to sleep.

My own cats are quite happy, even the ones who are rescues from the stray life and did experience outdoor freedom, they show no desire to get out, and in fact if you open the door they generally shy away from the terrors of the unknown.

Lucky you, lucky cats of yours, to have the dogs to protect them from the coyotes, who regard cats (and small dogs) as tasty treats. Cats are no fools; they know when they have it good. :wink:

By the way, I have a new horse! I’ve just acquired (“free to good home” deal) a 19-year-old Morgan gelding, to be buddy to my 17-year-old TB Ben, and so I can offer a bombproof sensible mount to horseless friends to hack out with me.

What’s that you say? Pictures? But of course!

Commander (L) meets Ben on arrival day, November 7

Getting to know you…

Commander’s previous owner says goodbye – although he lives next town over and knows he’s welcome to come visit whenever he wants

The boys

Commander’s going gray on his face

Ben last July, demonstrating what fresh grass can do for a horse’s coat

Cats are creatures of habit, they like what they’re used to. If they’re used to being outside, they’ll want to be outside. But if you bring them in long enough they’ll get used to that too. This can be a trying process but it will work out if you stick with it. And as long as you give them some attention and some playtime and plenty of food they’ll be ok.

I thoroughly disagree that it’s better to let them roam around and die early than to restrict them a bit and let them live long lives. Somebody I know found their cat in their yard, jawbone ripped off and intestines hanging out of his skin from some narrow but still fatal escape from some sort of predator. As much as my indoor cat might enjoy climbing a tree now and then I doubt that fun would balance out against a final end full of so much terror and pain.

Add cars, disease, and cruel people to the list of hazards and the choice is clear for me, my kitties stay inside.

My cats are what they are by choice. Mystery showed up in our backyard as a kitten, and has spent most of her waking time there since. When we have to forcibly keep her inside due to sub-zero freezing snowing sleeting hail, she puts up an unholy racket. Same if she decided to stay in for the night, then changed her mind at four in the morning. (I’m the only one in the family who doesn’t hear her, because I can sleep through anything :p). She’s a cat who loves peace and quiet and disemboweling small animals, and the chaos and noise of our house can be too much for her.
Tikva rarely ventures forth from the second floor, let alone outside. Actually, she spends most of her time in my room, often hidden away in my desk drawer (she climbs up through the back). She likes it when I open the window, but in general strange smells and sounds worry her. I’ve opened the front door nearby her a few times, and she ran right back up the stairs. I don’t know if it was the scent of outside, or the creaking noise. She’s a nervous cat, bordering on neurotic, and she’s happy to stay in her comfort zone.

Scientific studies have backed this up as well. Cats adjust to the size of their territories whether it’s an indoor space or an outdoor space.

ETF - I particularly like the sideways look Ben is giving Commander when he’s at the hay. I haven’t taken any new pics of Irish and Peanut. It’s so funny watching the farrier trim Peanut - he’s so small sometimes the farrier practically has Peanut sitting in his lap.

I’ve been looking at a mare on Craigslist…she’s been going down in price, and she’s half warmblood. My first mare was a Trakehner and a great horse. Here’s a link. I don’t need another horse. But then, I didn’t need another dog when I got the giant schnauzer pup 3 weeks ago.


Sweet face! Crappy picture to judge her conformation by (why oh why don’t people take decent pictures to sell their horses?) but as far as I can judge she’s nicely put together. Hey, I say go for it! Go check her out; if she’s as nice as you think, then grab her before someone else does; you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t. If you can afford to keep her, you’d probably be doing the mare a favor. :slight_smile:

I didn’t need Commander but I had been thinking about taking in an aging second horse since I can support one and there are so many that need homes. Commander wasn’t in peril but I’m glad I got him; he’s exactly the sort of old guy I had in mind. It’s also nice to be dealing with 15 hands rather than 16.1 for a change. :smiley:

Oh, yeh, forgot to mention – Ben the wimp, the perpetual underhorse, is now a KING and bosses his little buddy around. Commander takes it all in stride and the two are devoted to each other. Take one away and the other yells, etc.

My cats are indoors because they want to be, and they actually back away from open doors. Also, indoor-only cats have much less allergy-causing dander. I can have multiple indoor-only cats, but could not live with even one indoor-outdoor cat.

ETF - My two guys are geldings, and I don’t know how a mare would fit in the mix. She’s been for sale for quite some time, and I’d like to at least go and see her. I’m lucky - I don’t have to pay board, so it’s not like she’d end up costing much in the long run.


My cats were indoor/outdoor for the first few years here. They were allowed outside for one hour a night. It was after traffic, after dark. One night I let them out a little early. I foolishly trusted them to stay out of the street. Maxx was the smartest of the three. (He would actually say “OUT!” when I was late opening the door.) That early night proved he was not so smart or fast as the cars that whizz by during rush-hour. Our neighbor called. We rushed him to the ER vet, but he died in my arms on the way. :frowning:
Our other two, Cassy and 'Lil stopped asking to go out. They don’t even try to sneak out when the door is open.

Ha! I foresee a love triangle complete with possessive dramas! Could be all sorts of reasons why she’s been for sale so long, some good, some not so good. It’s a tough economy for buying and selling new mouths to feed. Still, taking a look can’t hurt and she might be an overlooked gem. The sale photos certainly aren’t doing her any good.

Oh, picunurse, I’m so sorry you had to go through that, and lose your lovely boy! For traffic alone I’d keep mine in because of where I live.