Tell me about house cats.

It is with a certain amount of trepidation that I’ve started this thread, knowing that this is something of a controversial subject. I’ve always had cats, but they’ve always been “free to roam” kitties, who are out as much as they’re in. After the death of my last two within three months of each other, I couldn’t face having another for a long time, but now I feel ready again. Plus, my other half going to be away on business a lot in the forseeable future, and I know I’m going to be lonely. A little, fuzzy, purry pal seems like an ideal companion.

The problem is, we live in a second floor flat, and I don’t know how a cat would react to being in all the time. There is a communal garden, so I could take him or her on walks on a harness, but it wouldn’t be possible for him to come and go as he pleased.

I know that opinion on this board can be divided between the “house cats are neurotic and over-weight and keeping them in is cruel” crowd, and the “letting your cat out is tantamount to murder” brigrade, but I really would appreciate some unprejudiced advice!

We’ve had our 3 young’uns since they were kittens, and, frankly, they’re scared to go outside. If all they know is indoors, they won’t be so tempted to roam. Of course, if it’s a male, doing the ol’ snip-snip will also lead to his being more content to just hanging around.
I tend to think it depends on the cat, though. I’m sure there are cats that are, by their very nature, outdoors-at-heart.

Well, look at what is more difficult for an indoor cat to do:

  1. Get run over by a car
  2. Get eaten by an animal
  3. Get killed/kidnapped by some sick fuck of a human
  4. Kill the local fauna
  5. Come down with diseases transmittable by other free-roaming cats
  6. Get fleas

Most cats are fine indoors all the time. We lived on a second floor apartment with indoor-only cats, and they’ve never suffered from it (they’re eight now). They’re not unhappy, and for their age, they’re quite active.

I live in a flat a LOT higher than the second floor, so there is no choice.

Well, there IS a choice, but the little homeless cat seemed SO , um, homeless and glad for me to bring it food (ie cat food suddenly took to jumping into my shopping basket, you know how it does) so I adopted/was adopted by the cat.

I have felt bad about it at times, but partly because of friends’ experiences of of their “free to choose” cats gatting all squished by cars and stuff, I most often manage not to.

Cos it’s hard to feel bad about it for long when I glance over and see that the moggie is lying around looking perfectly happy, or jumping around ditto. Plus, I have seen on the boards here how opinion really does seem to be split.

The only one who’s neurotic and overweight around here is me - the cat does seem ok, and although I am the only person she normally sees, she is always happy to see visitors and friendly to them.

Dunno how much this can help.

(I have thought of taking her out on a little lead but not really sure if that is needed or not. Could be fun though)

My cats are indoor kitties and they’re no more neurotic than normal. A few years ago, they were indoor/outdoor and one of them didn’t come home for 2 weeks. No more outses - I couldn’t handle the thought of her being dead on the side of the road somewhere.

And they’re fine. No pining. One likes to “rush” the door when I come home, but she *hates * being outside and doesn’t ever get past the stoop. Sure they sit in windows but they spend just as much time on the waterbed. They just like to be where it’s warm.

Plus, our vet bills are so much less now that they don’t get fleas!

None of my cats are free to roam outside and none of them have any idea that they’re missing something. 99% of cats are perfectly fine with staying indoors all the time. They can’t miss what they don’t know.

Even a cat who has been an outside cat can often be brought in and never let out again. I have two like that and neither has any desire to go outside. And they were both homeless wanderers for several years before I got them. I have another one who was left behind when someone moved and she was outside full-time for at least 4 months. She doesn’t want to go outside either.

If you keep them inside, they can never be run over, poisoned, shot, or kicked, and probably will never become lost. It’s also unlikely that they will get worms or other parasites; they will also almost certainly never get feline leukemia or FIV; they will probably not get any respiratory infections; they will almost certainly never be bitten by a possibly rabid animal. It’s much cheaper having an indoor cat, if nothing else convinces you.

I will try.
I have an indoor/outdoor cat, but I’ve had cats that were exclusively indoor.
I’ve noticed they’re generally more affectionate. Raising them exclusively indoor isn’t that difficult, especially if they’ve never been outside.
Make sure you have lots of toys. Make sure (s)he’s neutered. I will not start yet another trainwreck about declawing, but it’s something to consider if the cat will be exclusively indoors.
The thing about indoor cats is (and this is only my experience), they get bored if they’re left on their own all day with no one to play with and nothing to do. This leads to spilled garbage cans, shredded furniture, “accidents” in shoes…I ended up getting playmates for all my indoor cats. They seem to get into less trouble if there’s two of them. Don’t ask me why that is.

Contact your local FIV trust or charity - I don’t know what the charity name would be in your area, but FIV is the feline immunovirus, precursor to cat AIDS. Naturally, those cats can’t be allowed to roam free, but they can often be young healthy happy cats. The trust will also pay for all vet bills. There might also be other categories of cats that benefit from or require an indoor-only environment; look in the Yewllo Pages for cat charities, call Battersea Dog’s Home (which has a large cat’s section) or look on Battersea’s website.

Oh, thanks for that Axel. I’ve already checked the Battersea website, and all the cats seem to need access to a garden, but the FIV trust seems promising.

I love cats and have 16 indoor/outdoor. Our outdoors is a yard and woods and a barn and a koi pond and a fountain and two gardens and a brush pile, 3/4 acre with high stockade fence nobody can get over. Most enjoy going in and out frequently. But this was a huge effort and sacrifice for the two humans here, a labor of love. We could have been boaters, or traveled Europe, but instead I give two of them insulin shots every morning and every night, and spend thousands on vet bills, and buy hundreds of pounds of litter at a shot. And the little peckerheads spray the couch all the same, too.

I think they enjoy being locked indoors somewhat less.

But I am sure as hell that they enjoy being dead much, much, much less. Jesus, look at the alternatives for strays - short frightening uncomfortable disease-ridden lives. There are many very happy cats living just indoors. If you’re thinking of offering that to a stray, bless your heart and congratulations to the lucky recipient - enjoy it!

Ours (raised indoor since kittens) while they love to sit in windows, are terrified of the actual outdoors. My Jesper snuck out twice in the two years we’ve been living on the first floor, but was absolutely freaked-out and very ready to come back in once we found him.

On the other hand, while we were looking for Jesper a stray kitty came running into our apartment like, “Hey! Heard you were looking for a cat. Here I am!”
After we found Jesper we put her back out but then somehow it became a routine of when we got home from work, Little Bit (had to call her something :smiley: ) would be waiting by the door to come in for a few hours and then she’d meow to go back out when she was ready. After she turned up preggers, we decided it would be safer all around to let her stay inside and have them. Once they were weaned and she was spayed I went to put her back outside so we could go back to our old routine but she didn’t seem too happy about it.

I have eight cats and they all stay indoors. The two oldest like to go outside on the porch with me but usually only go a few feet out to the grass. If a car drives by they go straight under my chair.

None of them are fat, and they seem pretty happy to me. They play with their toys and each other, and warm themselves on our big picture window ledge. The younger ones don’t seem to have the desire to go out at all.

I have no recent experience with harnesses, but I remember trying to train one older cat to use one. I think I’d have had more luck with a kitten.

I don’t care if other people let theirs out personally, as long as they aren’t howling at our windows for our kittens to come out and play!

Good luck with your kitty shopping!

I keep my cats in for all of the above reasons-- parasites, disease, animal depredation, cars, evil humans. I have a cat with FIV and one who died of it (I got them both off the street already positive). It’s not fun to watch your beloved pet die of AIDS, I promise you, and I’m not sure the vaccine is 100% effective.

I also had a terrible accident with my sweet, wonderful half Siamese cat. He escaped through a faulty screen door and was only out for 10 minutes when he was killed by a dog right in front of me. It was indescribably horrible. If you had seen it, you’d never let your cats out, I promise you that.

To be specific: There is at least one charity in Essex that is specifically aimed towards rehoming cats with FIV, and I had a cat from them myself. He had been feral before, but when he came to me he was friendly and playful and loved to be stroked. I had to let him go for other reasons so never saw him die of AIDS, but of course your cat is going to die anyway - an outdoor cat might even contract FIV - so it’s not so bad to be prepared. The free vet’s bills is also not to be sniffed at; it enables you to care for the cat properly without paying more than your rent. And you can feel like you’re being really helpful.

Despite the fact that I sound like an advert for FIV cats, IMHO ordinary cats are fine as indoor cats too. It’s just that I don’t think anyone anywhere (even on the SDMB) could argue against FIV cats being indoor cats.

Consider getting two cats. When multiple indoor cats live together, they tend to derive a lot of stimulation off each other, generally through chase games that probably go a long way towards compensating for the fact that they don’t get to go out and chase live prey. It helps prevent them being bored while both of you are gone all day.

We have two indoor only cats, too (one goes out on a leash a little bit), but they’re mostly indoors. They seem perfectly happy with it. They also try to sneak out, but once out, they eat a bit of grass then want back in. Well, except the one who goes out on a leash - she would like to roam. I agree that two cats are better than one, too. Ours don’t particularly like each other, but they do keep each other company.

I don’t find our cats are bad for spraying or anything - they are both females. and they are very good about using the litterbox.

I have had quite a few cats, and with the exception of one or two who liked to rush outdoors (only to be confused and a bit frightened by it) occassionally, none showed any resentment at being indoor cats once I made the decision.

All cats should be spayed/neutered, of course.

I also have my cats declawed so they can’t tear up the furniture (anymore). Except for a day or two of being tender, none have ever shown me any sign of hatred for that either. Plus, it feels really cool when a cat without claws kneads you. :smiley:

Just adding my experiences to the thread.

I have two indoor-only cats. When we just had one, she never had any interest in going outside, since I never let her out even once. She was bought at a pet store (she was a “gift” from a friend… Sigh that’s another issue altogether, but I took her in). This same friend kept trying to “let” her go out, since she thought having cats indoors waas just “so cruel”. Ah. Yeah. Okay. The cat had no interest in going outside to begin with. Despite her best efforts, I kept my cat inside. I moved shortly after into my parent’s home, and since they have a Lhasa Apso, they gave my cat free run of their gigantic, apartment-like basement. Since we used to live down there ourselves, it had carpet, rooms, heat, etc. I spent most of my time with her downstairs to make sure she was okay. She did great, and never once showed any interest in the doors leading outside or upstairs. I “moved” once again (but it was supposed to be a long vacation - and instead of burdening my parents with looking after my cat, I packed her up and took her with me. She sat in her carrier with me on the plane, in her very own seat, and she handled the trip better than I did). In the apartment that became our unexpected home, again, no interest in the front door. She spent much time in front of the big patio doors, and loves staring out windows, but she never meowed to go out, ever.
Shortly after I got married, my husband and I noticed she did spend a lot of time whining outside out bedroom door at night when we went to sleep. (No kitties in the bedroom at night, or hubby can’t sleep!) So, we had room in our apartment and our hearts for another cat, and we went down to the shelter and rescued another female cat, a couple months younger than our first cat.
Cat number two was an eight month old stray cat (wth a LOT of health problems, poor thing), nobody knew where she was from or what she’d been through, but she was a mess. She had been picked up wandering in an alley and brought to the shelter. She also showed no interest at all in being outside. We don’t know if it was her previous experiences with being outside that turned her off to it, or if she just really, really liked being warm, fed, and loved. I would say option two. :wink:
Getting a second cat also shut the first cat up - no more whining at night. We moved to a smaller apartment, and they still have no problems. They discovered new circuits to run, new doors to open - but never the front door.

If we left the door open, they would be curious and sniff around, but they are mostly scared of the outdoors. Sometimes when we come home we’ll see a little nose in the door, but they make it pretty obvious that they are just greeting us, and don’t want to go out. They skip around and dance backward when they see it’s us. If cats could cheer, they would. When the door is closed, they don’t care about it. What’s kind of interesting is that every other door in the apartment, they whine and cry and scratch and beat down until we open it. The door to outside, however, is silently understood to be verboten. Neither cat has any problem with this.

For the record, our cats are both about two years old, and are very healthy and very happy. Mr. Stasaeon takes time out of his day to play around with them (he’s just a big kid, after all), we give them lots of toys (they have so many now we have a “toybox” - they know to go over to this box and haul out their toys when they feel like playing). One of them is very petite, slim and trim, and moderately active, the other is bigger, getting a little chubby, but she is still very active. We changed her diet a bit and she’s losing her big tummy. That’s something to watch for, don’t let them get too lazy, or overfed, or they’ll get chubby. I honestly don’t know how that one got chubby, since she is the most active cat I have ever known. She bounces off the walls, and is the one who begs us to be played with, like a hyperative puppy. Either way, we monitor their food bowls closer now, so we know who’s eating what and how much. Overweight cats shouldn’t be a problem if you carefully monitor their food intake, and make sure they have toys to exercise with. Or even do like hubby does, get down on your hands and knees and play with them yourself - we chase them around, they chase us back, and then they roll around for tummy rubs. They play with each other often, too. I’m a big fan of having two animals, to keep each other from being lonely when we’re out, and to have buddy to play with for extra exercise, if that’s at all possible. It’s understandable if you don’t have the time, money, room, etc., of course. But I would highly recommend it if it’s possible. Besides, what’s better than a warm, purring cat in your lap? Why, two warm, purring cats in your lap! :wink:

I would say interest in outdoors varies from cat to cat, of course, as others have said, but I think if you are firm and constant in your training and commands, they will learn. And they won’t be unhappy if you keep them entertained, or them plenty of ways to be entertained.

Whew, okay, sorry for rambling on. I don’t have children yet, you see, so these are my only “babies”! :smiley: Good luck with whatever you do. Fuzzy companions are fun and worth it.

None of my three go outdoors. Any time I have tried to take them out on jaunts, they freak out. I like it like that. FWIW, all three of them and the two of us are in a 625 square foot guest house. One thing that I have got though that they love is a little shelf next to the window; they like looking out but not being out (go figure). Here is a variety of window perches - truly the most used cat item in the house. They like to sit there and chirp back at the birds, and stare at the horses.

They don’t seem any more neurotic than the next cat, but a whole lot healthier. Well except for Cante, he’s pretty fat and neurotic, but I think that’s cause he was a feral kitten when we got him.

A few years ago, I adopted 2 cats, Mojo and Ginger. I allowed them to go outside when they wanted. After a couple months, Mojo didn’t come back home. (I lost my Mojo… sorry for that). Ginger started pining for him, so we got another kitten, Norman. A few weeks later, Mojo showed back up. :rolleyes: We let Ginger and Mojo out again, but limited their time out. Norman was too young to go outside. Not more than a couple weeks later, Ginger was hit by a car. I was so heartbroken that I’ve kept Mojo and Norman in ever since.

Norman doesn’t know any different, and Mojo doesn’t miss it. They’re both very happy and content. Mojo is quite active and neurotic, running around the house like a blue-assed fly. Norman is the typical lazy, fat ass cat. But that doesn’t mean that all indoor cats are neurotic and/or fat & lazy. It all depends on the individual cat.

I think it’s a good idea to get two kittens. I HIGHLY recommend two males. The male and female thing didn’t work out for us, and I think neutering is far less tramatic than spaying. Ginger was in a lot of pain when she was spayed, and just didn’t mesh with either Mojo or Norman. But then again, it depends on the individual cat. ::shrug::

Good luck & post pics when you find a kitty.