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17 March 2009


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I think the answer is still yes and no. My experience growing up with a family who thought cats belonged outside unless they were actively cuddling (and not allowed to cuddle if they were dirty, a ridiculous cycle), who died or disappeared early, pushed me to keep my own cats inside full-time when I had a say. However, even the most sedentary cat I have seemed to look out longingly through the windows, and when given th chance bolted outside.

I kept them strictly indoors as long as I lived in unsafe areas--coyote country, housing developments with unpleasant neighbors. Now I live across the street from my childhood home, in a neighborhood I trust and know very well, with neighbors who have cats and love them on all three sides and a huge park on the fourth side. I have made the decision to let the cats outside during the day, always leaving a cat flap open for them in case they want to return.

Obviously I made sure they're fully vaccinated, wormed, and covered with anti-parasitic medications before they went outside. I even did it in stages, letting them out a little, bringing them back in, making sure they know the area before leaving them out for hours without supervision.

Sure, it could still backfire on me. But they are much happier when they can run around in the backyard, and I still see them inside more often than not, and they seem even more affectionate than before.

Gina Spadafori

Heather, I do think that's the perfect compromise. The enclosure Christie had at her old house in the country was the most beautiful cat paradise imaginable.


But I find the claim that they’re somehow a threat to either anyone’s property, or the happiness of anyone’s indoor cats, to be frankly a bit bizarre.

Comment by Lis — March 17, 2009 @ 8:35 am

You've never heard of outdoor cats causing behavioral problems for indoor cats?

I could care less about poop or whatever in a garden or plants. Lots of animals defecate outside whether it's cats, squirrels or raccoons. I'm not concerned about a "threat" to my property.


Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. You have a problem. That doesn’t mean any cat, any where should never be allowed outside.

Comment by Gina Spadafori — March 17, 2009 @ 8:37 am

As I said before,

"If people want to let their cats outdoors, that’s their decision but it must come with responsibility."

I never said cats should never be outside and as mentioned my cats go outside harnessed and supervised. I don't feel its safe to let them roam free unsupervised or for them to be a nuisance to others.

And my neighbors don't care. They "can't" keep their cat in their yard or away from mine.


Actually - I think the tubby toy is an orca - not sure if this is the exact one:


Its battery operated and moves quite fast around the perimiter of the tub rotating as it goes. Teddy will lean over and bat at it for a while - finally he'll get so excited that he jumps in the tub and chases it around. I put about 2 inches of water in the tub - enough so the toy can move.

The only problem is when he's done playing he doesn't understand why rolling on the carpet to dry off isn't OK. So towel drying has become part of the game- in the form of a play wresting match.

No, I don't have a life.

Gina Spadafori

Not that I pay attention to such things, heaven knows, but Christie's SFGate.com piece is sizzling hot with comments and readers over there.

Only Dick Cheney is drawing more fire.

Christie Keith

Yowza... it's the top emailed and third most read piece on SFGate.com today! And SFGate.com is the seventh busiest news site in the country.

Teh kittehs are pleased with this offering.

Jason Merrihew

Interesting comments regarding this subject. AAHA is working with various pet organizations through the CATalyst council to address the public preception problem cats have. Although they are the most popular US pet (total number) and one of the most blogged about subjects, cats don't get the same respect or health care their canine friends get. Congrats Christie on the article's success. The paper owes you big time. :0)


We live in the city of San Francisco (densely populated urban area with a extremely busy main street out front where people speed up/down the hill and big city buses frequent) and are lucky enough to have exclusive ownership of the backyard of our 2-unit Victorian. We installed the Cat Fence-In system here to enclose the whole yard. We had to do some minor customizing for the irregularities in the way 100-yrs of architectural density between buildings/lots happens in SF, including building a fence/gate to block off the breezeway area (and creating a double-door system as a buffer to that scary street), and removing an old foundation from a former stable that was in our yard until 2003 - all providing possible escape routes for our kitten. It's been over a year and has worked great so far. He spends a ton of time outdoors - safely enclosed. I do know that he’s killed a lot of insects (including a big dragonfly) – mostly moths, spiders and flies - but so far the pigeons and other birds know to stay out of our yard. There is a male pigeon that spends whole days taking pieces of vegetation off the roof next door and flying it to his nest someplace nearby and my cat loves to watch this while chirping and chattering. My cat spends quite a bit of time staring longingly up at "the princess in the tower" (the female indoor-only kitty that watches him for hours at a time from the apartment building behind us) and watching the workman demo and rebuild the decaying Victorian behind us to the north. Installing the Cat Fence-in system was the best thing we could have done for him and our household. I had indoor-outdoor cats (indoors at night always) previously that lived well into their 20s, but I could not have allowed this curious youngster outdoors because of the street we live on being so busy, him being so young, and he has hemophilia. I couldn’t risk him getting into a fight with another cat or even getting scratched. Also - he’s been raw fed since 4.5 weeks old, and I didn’t want his diet to be corrupted or appetite spoiled by eating a neighbor’s kibbles. I would have been too worried about all of this without the enclosure. The Cat Fence-in system we bought is the kind that also keeps other cats out of our yard, too. It works - there are other cats that have tried to get in and they have never been successful. I briefly considered keeping him indoors-only, but we live in a 600-700 sq ft studio and I can only imagine what crazy destruction/mischief he would have gotten into in here if he didn’t get a chance to spend so much time outside running around and being crazy - not to mention the torture and annoyance he would have caused to my turtle, goldfish and two senior Great Danes that sweetly tolerate his antics. And yes, I still take the time each day to play with him – he is always game for a play session. Sometimes I feel my games are not enough though and that he really should have a real live, feline playmate – maybe someday. Right now this is as many animals as I can successfully, responsibly and attentively care for – and the two senior Danes would not appreciate any more changes (new animals being introduced). When I had cats before enclosures were not as well known or available -- but now that they are so readily available, effective and affordable - I see no real reason for people not using them these days. I think old habits die hard sometimes, but I'm really glad I've changed by ways. I think some of my neighbors think I'm weird though. Most people either have indoors-only or free-roaming cats - even with all the risks. There's NO shortage of missing cat signs in this neighborhood; nearly epidemic (just about every pole has 2-3 signs on it) - we have at least one coyote living in the park at the top of the hill and plenty of urban traffic around here.

Susan Fox

It was front and center, well actually right side top, on the SFGate home page with a kute kitteh photo this morning. Do you get a $1,000,000 bonus for that?

Original Lori

She should!!

Colorado Transplant

That's all I say to Heather is that I sincerely hope some day she will show Compassion to every living creature!

Christie Keith

Do you get a $1,000,000 bonus for that?

I used to, but they gave it to someone at AIG.

Susan Fox

Pai, if we were living in a place where I didn't feel it was reasonable to let the cats out loose on the property, a cat fence is exactly what we'd install.

I wonder about the effects of the indoor air pollution we've all read about on a 9lb. or so house cat whose face is close to the floor and who has limited or no on-going access to fresh air day to day.

Hard, maybe impossible, to draw cause and effect conclusions, but I believe it's something to be concerned about.


Why are you all pounding on Heather? Try walking in her shoes. It's probably causing her anxiety and stress as she is the one dealing with the problem and having to clean up - not the neighbors who are causing the damn problem. Leave Heather alone. Was going to stay out of this fray, but couldn't. If the neighbors won't take responsibility, just WHAT is Heather to do. It's not an ignorable problem.

Gina Spadafori

I believe in keeping cats indoors ... and I let my cats out most days.

::::head explodes:::


Gina, I'm not saying ALL folks throw out the trough but a good majority people do indeed just free feed a big bowl of dry food with little to no effort.

Cats are NOT low maintenance pets, as many like to believe. They require just as much effort as dogs and in many cases don't get even half that.

As I said, I'll never understand this argument. It's not ok for other pets to roam free outside but it's natural and ok for cats. As a cat lover, I find it disheartening that cats don't deserve the same consideration as their dog counterparts.


This is an argument I will never understand.

Why do cats, as opposed to other pets, need to roam free? Sure, we take our dogs outside but they are leashed, in a fenced yard or supervised. They are never allowed to run off leash and unsecured willy nilly with no supervision. Is this only because of leash laws? Otherwise, folks would let their dogs run wild during the day when they are away at work.

Why is it too much work do provide an enriching environment in your home and take your cats out on a harness or provide an enclosure if you feel it's that important for cats to be outdoors. As Christie mentions in her article, there are many cat safe options to give them the opportunity to be outdoors safely without having to roam the neighborhood.

Cats are often second class citizens compared to dogs. They get a big trough of dry food and thrown outside to entertain themselves. People can't be bothered to take the time to play or walk their cat like they would their dog. Why?

On the mention of cat friendly neighbors, I am a cat person. I only have cats, more than a couple. I volunteer for a cats only welfare group. My neighbors across the street have outdoor cats but I do NOT like my neighbor's cats on my porch, in my yard, on my property. I like their cats, they are very sweet cats. However, they come sit on my porch and torment my cats who want to rip their face off. My cats scream and yell and throw themselves against whatever obstacle is in their way. I can't leave my windows open on the lower level of my house when I am not home. The neighbor's cats are a nuisance.

A friend of mine has multiple cats and also has neighbors with cats allowed outside. Her cats are spraying the front door when the neighbor cats perch there. Why should other pet owners have to be inconvenienced and deal with behavior issues with their cats because the neighbor thinks it convenient to throw her cats outside every day?

Where I live, we have leash laws for dogs as well as cats. (Exception for ferals, we have an active TNR program monitored by the county.) Cats are not allowed to be a nuisance and be on other other people's property. I call animal control EVERY time the neighbor's cats are in my yard.


Good article. I am a firm believer in letting my cats go outside but only during the day time. They have had their fair share of accidents outdoors but I have tried keeping them in and they just get depressed and anxious.

I feel letting them outside is only natural, their natural environment. They like to romp around in the grass, climb trees, chase mice, and just be regular old cats. I would never deny them their freedom.

Gina Spadafori

The assumption that the person who lets her cats out is the same person who puts a trough of stale dry food out and can't be bothered to play with her cats is insulting and wrong.

My cats are fed with as much care and planning as my dogs are. They are also groomed, sleep on my bed, have indoor trees and perches, toys and nightly laser-tag games.

But I gotta tell ya, I can't give them what they get in the couple hours they get outside most days, usually when I'm working at home. (And never at night.) I'm lucky in that I have a lower-risk -- not no-risk, certainly -- home. My lot backs up to two acres of landlocked undeveloped land, with a creek running through it. The cats poke around there a little, but mostly stay in the yard. I've never seen them go to the front of the house, but even then, I live on a very quiet street. I don't really have a neighbor on one side, and I don't see them bothering to visit the yard on the other. Why would they? They have their own private wilderness behind them.

It's a hard decision to let them out. I didn't make it lightly and I re-think it every day. In fact, I agonize over it.

Jason Merrihew

Excellent article. Growing up in Nebraska, my childhood cats were primarily outdoor cats. I was very fortunate that my cat I got when I was three years old lived until I was 24 despite living in a rural area next to a busy highway.

As an adult living in a major metropolitan area, I cringe at the thought of letting my cat roam around outside without supervision. We have trained Slinky to walk on a leash and we let him play in the fenced backyard (supervised) almost every day.


We have four "very spoiled" cats and they are kept indoors - they have a room all their own with lots of toys, cat furniture, their food and water bowls and litter boxes. They have two windows in their room which looks out on the front yard and we have their furniture arranged by the windows so they can see out and there is a bird feeder close by so they can watch the birds (btw the birds are not scared since they know the cats can't get out so sometimes it's a case of the birds watching the cats too). We also have some stools arranged under the windows at the back of the house for them to look out of so they can watch birds and the pond we have in the backyard. We play with them when we come home from work at night and on weekends, they love to chase the laser toy (which we call the "red bug"). We also have a sunroom on the back of the house and when we are home and the weather is nice we open it up and open the windows and let the cats have the run of the room. When we built it we put large screened windows all the way around it and put glass windows on the bottom part of the room that faces out to the pond area so the cats could look out easily. We will let the cats come outside on the back porch area if we are outside, but they don't really stray off the porch and only one of them will actually follow us into the yard, the rest will lounge on the porch for a short time and then go back into the house. None of them tries to run outside when we open the doors, they all seem quite content to be in the house and I do not believe they are missing anything by being in the house (except all the dangers they could face if left outside on their own).


It's also natural for your dog to be outside chasing squirrels and being regular old dogs. What about other pets? Birds, rabbits, ect? ALL animals natural environment is outside. So why is ok only for cats and natural for them but not the others?

And the North American continent is hardly a natural environment for a domestic cat descendant from African desert cats.

Gina Spadafori

I call animal control EVERY time the neighbor’s cats are in my yard.

Comment by Heather — March 17, 2009

Why? So you can punish your "bad" neighbors by having their cats die at AC?

Too often it seems to me this issue becomes another "no room for discussion" thing, like the "a breeder is a breeder is a breeder and all are scum" attitude of the forced spay-neuter crowd.

There is no one true way to keep pets or raise children. But there sure are a million people who want to tell you there is.


And the North American continent is hardly a natural environment for a domestic cat descendant from African desert cats.

Comment by Heather

The same can be pretty much said for you, since you and I are both descendants from the "fertile crescent" of the Middle East.

But that hasn't stopped humans from colonizing more continents and destroying more habitat and its inhabitants than cats ever could.

Colorado Transplant

I am always torn between letting them live inside all the time and letting them outside.

I have an outside small enclosure (the size of a shed) with shelves and that keeps them happy a lot of the time. However, I have been letting them outside mornings only--so that the squirrels and birds can have freedom eating away at seeds in and out of the feeder and on the ground.

I am quite anxious when they are loose, even though I stay out with them. That is because in the past I have had to deal with lost cats, dead birds, dead mice, angry neighbors, cat fights, animals such as snakes (you name it) brought into the house, and dog-chasing (by me).

This is a great subject you bring up, Christie, for maybe I can learn more solutions to dilemma aof what is overall best for my two "Black Beauties", Inca and Sophie.

Gina Spadafori

Again, my cats are getting every bit as much consideration. How miserable would my dogs be if they never left the house? Instead, they go on river-parkway runs, to training grounds, dog parks and more.

You know the pet I feel worst about? My PARROT! No matter how much environmental enrichment I offer him, I can never make up for what he has lost for being my indoor pet. (Some people free-fly their trained parrots, by the way.)


My cats have lived exclusively inside since we got our second cat when I was a kid. They have cat trees, kitty condos, a rotating assortment of toys, and lots of love and attention. They do not appear to be bored, frustrated, or depressed.

However, I have to say, they also do not appear to be stressed or tormented by neighborhood cats that come onto our property or even into the rose bush right outside my living room window. Nor have my plants appeared to suffer from the visitations of our local feral or free-roaming owned cats.

I disagree with the choices of so many of my neighbors to let their cats outside. I don't believe it's safe, not even remotely. We are in a thickly-settled, very busy urban neighborhood. We also have opossums, coyotes, and hawks. It's a dangerous world out there, for a six- or seven-pound cat.

But I find the claim that they're somehow a threat to either anyone's property, or the happiness of anyone's indoor cats, to be frankly a bit bizarre.


Why? So you can punish your “bad” neighbors by having their cats die at AC?

Comment by Gina Spadafori — March 17, 2009 @ 8:03 am

Firstly, my AC will fine them, *if* that. And my AC is practically no kill. They don't take in ferals and were the first in my state to legalize TNR. They work with local rescues and no kill shelters. They don't kill for space. There kill stats have dropped dramatically in recent years. They are well on their way to a no kill nation.

Why is ok for my cats to be stressed and tormented in their own home? Why is that acceptable? Why is ok for my friend to have to live with her cat spraying? If people want to let their cats outdoors, that's their decision but it must come with responsibility. It's not my responsibility to deal with their cats. Why is that fair?

Gina Spadafori

Suggestion: Why don't you try a motion-detector sprinkler to keep your neighbors' cats out of your yard? That what I usually suggest to readers who complain about cats. It's a practical solution.

As for life being "fair," well, I let that one go in kindergarten.


There kill stats have dropped dramatically in recent years.

Comment by Heather — March 17, 2009 @ 8:19 am


And FWIW, my cats go outside with harnesses. I'd love to have an enclosure but alas I am a renter. A friend of mine has a huge, awesome enclosure attached to her house. I'm insanely jealous.


I'm not sure the mailperson would appreciate getting hosed when she comes to deliver the mail. And I've tried to electronic deterrents and the cat repellant spray.

Gina Spadafori

Ok, now we're getting somewhere. You have a problem. That doesn't mean any cat, any where should never be allowed outside.

But if my cats, in their couple hours outside a few days a week, were causing a neighbor problems, I would certainly pull out the plans and get going again on that enclosure. End of discussion, and yes, I have asked the neighbors.

I NEVER defend allowing a pet to cause a problem for someone else.

Have you talked to your neighbors?

Another practical suggestion, along the lines of understanding that some things are outside of our personal control: Have you tried blocking your own cats' access to the room or window where they are likely to see the other cats? Yes, I know: Not fair. But I'm trying to offer possible solutions.

Gina Spadafori

I have had my own neighbor pet problem, by the way. My sweet neighbors (two sisters) took in a stray dog who is a problem barker. Non-stop yappy. That's a real problem for someone who works a lot at home, believe me.

But we worked together to try out ways that might help to keep Mango more quiet -- some training, some behavior changes (theirs and mine), some environmental change to reduce bark triggers.

It took a while, everything didn't work, of course, but a lot did and the end result is that Mango is now a dog we all can live with.

Muttering, "Mango, STFU!" was cathartic, but generally unhelpful. Working with the neighbors was a far better option, offering real solutions Even if Mango still is barkier than I would like, it within the parameters of what I can live with, easily.

Original Lori

mmm...Mango. Now I want a mango water ice.


I live in a highrise so its not like I can just open the door and let them out.

I try to play laser pen and/or remote control mouse chase every evening with them. They also like to fetch balls and chase soap bubbles, so we have a variety of things going. They also have a cat tree, cat beds, a gazillion other toys that I rotate around.

And as a special treat, I put a couple of inches of water in the bathtub along with a little motorized shark and let my big guy chase it around.

I do think my cats get a bit bored at times - but in a busy metropolitan area going outside is a big NO! But if I had a big yard, I would probably set up one of those giant enclosures so they could play without getting lost or hurt.

Gina Spadafori

Motorized shark! I love it!


"Suggestion: Why don’t you try a motion-detector sprinkler to keep your neighbors’ cats out of your yard? That what I usually suggest to readers who complain about cats. It’s a practical solution.

As for life being “fair,” well, I let that one go in kindergarten.

Comment by Gina Spadafori — March 17, 2009 @ 8:22 am"

I love Christie's post and the responses. It's great that cat owners are trying to find appropriate solutions that meet the needs of their cats and their neighbors. But here's the thing: I'm not a cat owner and I really do NOT want other people's cats in my yard. It's my yard, and I should have a choice. Don't I? Why do cats have rights that people don't? If a neighbor's kid came into my yard and started digging, harassing my dogs, killing birds, and the other things cats do (well, presumably not the pooping in my garden...), I'd have a variety of recourses. And if the parents took the attitude of every cat owner I've ever talked to about keeping their cat on their own property (an indifferent shrug), I'd have even MORE recourses. So I see this as intractable, because cat owners basically have Gina's attitude: life's not fair, suck it up. No, I DONT have a right to use my property as I choose. Cats have more rights than me: it's MY job to keep them off my property.. but I can't even THINK of trapping the cat, because that would be cruel.


Okay, now we need the URL for the motorized shark.

I think Lindsey would freak (he's more of a fluffy-ball kind of guy), but *I* want to see it.


When I lived in the 'burbs, and had many cats, we built a chain link "house" so they could go outside and still be safe.

Some loved it, some were indifferent. But it was great to have and can be a great solution.

By using dog kennel panels it can be built simply and relatively cheaply.

Now, with three cats in an apartment, we are on the third floor, with a forest full of wild beast behind us, and a highway in front of us. So they don't go out, but we make sure they have many windows to look out of.

Gina Spadafori

Cat owners basically have Gina’s attitude: life’s not fair, suck it up.

Comment by EmilyS — March 17, 2009

OK, but then, what am I supposed to do about the raccoons, rats and possums? Not to mention the wild birds? Shit happens, everywhere. Even if I happen to "own" the property.

And my point was that Heather doesn't have a CAT problem; she has a NEIGHBOR problem.


I agree you with you, Heather, about cats often being treated as second-class citizens - even in animal-welfare/animal-advocacy circles. Since cats have been the number-one housepet for years (based on population), you'd think that the sheer numbers would begin to raise their status a bit. But, no, the mindset for many people is just pour some kibble/open the back door. And if the cat doesn't come home, well, the cat just "ran away."

I used to house/pet-sit for a neighbor who had one dog and one cat. The dog got regular vet visits, plus attention for his behavior and phobia issues (he was a rescue). The cat, meanwhile, hadn't seen a vet in years, and as it aged, it was losing weight, had poor coat quality, etc. I gently suggested that Buttons should see a vet and get some basic bloodwork, said the likely conditions (CRF, thyroid) were relatively easy to treat. But, no, the cat never saw the vet. This couple was happy to seek my advice and products for the dog (I successfully used calming aids on him when I watched him during a thunderstorm), but the cat just wasn't high on their priority list. I gave up trying to advocate for Buttons.

A couple of weeks after this couple moved to a new neighborhood, the cat, not yet acclimated to the new house, dashed out the front door. A few days later, my neighbor drove past my yard and stopped to tell me about the lost cat, and said she figured the cat had purposely left to look for a place to die - even though the cat was not at death's door when they moved. I explained that that was mostly an old wive's tale and that their poor cat was probably just scared and disoriented. I recommended posters, local lost pet websites, and put her in touch with an animal rescuer who regularly helps perfect strangers find their pets. I could tell that this was all sounding like too much trouble. I was afraid that I'd hear what I didn't want to know, so I never checked back. I felt a connection to this cat, who I had cared for occasionally for several years, and it hurt my heart to know that her own family treated her so casually. I happened to talk to the woman again a year later. She said that they did look for the cat, put up some posters, but Buttons was never found. Damn - makes me cry a little even now. Poor sweet kitty.

Anyway, to chime in on the main point of this story: yes, I think cats are safest indoors and generally should not be allowed to roam. You just don't know when they might wander a little too far or decide to pursue a squirrel just as the FedEx truck comes down the street.

But most of my cats do have access to the great outdoors. Our backyard is fenced, and the fence has netting and poles to keep the cats from jumping over. The trees have deer-netting skirts that prevent the cats from climbing. One multi-limbed mulberry tree couldn't be skirted normally - two kittens kept figuring out how to bypass the skirt. So we hired someone to remove some boughs and build a lattice barrier. We specifically asked for one bough to be cut off straight, thus providing a seat for the cats (we call it the "catbird seat" - they can climb the tree partway, but can't go any further). It's been a few years since we built most of this, and some of the hardware, etc needs to be replaced or repaired. I've been scoping out the yard, and as soon as the weather is warm and dry enough, I'll be out there reinforcing the weak areas so that there aren't any escape routes. The base of the fence is reinforced with bricks or lumber, as necessary - once had a cat who liked to try to tunnel her way out.

Not all our cats like to go out. Some don't go out at all; some don't like to go out when it's cold. But on a warmish day, several will be out there. Our blind cat Ziggy loves to flop around in sun puddles - it is his greatest joy, and it always warms my heart, too. One of our cats is a determined escape artist, even with the enclosure, so Rufus doesn't have backyard privileges. He does, however, have a matching collar, harness and lead, and loves to go on walks where he can greet his public. Turns out he likes most dogs - who knew?

I recently had to depart from my cats in- house/enclosed-yard/on-leash policy, though, for Sammy, the neighborhood stray. He had been seen wandering, obviously homeless, for a couple of years at least. Last spring, he started spraying my front porch. So I decided to make him my responsibility and made him my one-cat TNR project. He comes daily for his meals, and stopped spraying after he was neutered. He refuses to use either of the shelters I provided for him, though. He crosses the street to wherever it is he does sleep. So now, even though my own cats are safe in the house or yard, I have an "outdoor" cat who I fret over.

Susan Fox

Gina, at the rate this one's going, you may want to consider quietly replacing Christie's name with yours in the byline. But that would be cheating, wouldn't it ;-)

Heather, have you considered not worrying about how other people chose to keep their pets? And the possibility that you don't know what's right for everyone else? Just askin'.

Colorado Transplant

My little Batman (no longer with me) used to get blamed for all the cats' poops in the neighborhood--it was impossible for him to do that many. Needless to say, all those that complained are now my "enemys". These same people did not complain about poops from opossums, squirrels, racoons, foxes, etc.

What should I say about all the dog poops on my front and back lawns? No, it is the cats that are the naughty ones--the neighbors say. After all, these neigbors love their dogs!


I've discovered that deer netting over the raised vegetable beds works just fine for keeping the neighbor's cats out. I use coffee grounds to deter them from defecating in the flower beds and that has worked very well. I've blocked access to under the porches so they can't go under there when it rains. I just can't go to war with my neighbor over his 3 free roaming kitties. I feel kind of sorry for them, though. They look sort of rough and I'm not sure they get regular vet care.


"sun puddles." Love that!


Heather, have you considered not worrying about how other people chose to keep their pets? And the possibility that you don’t know what’s right for everyone else? Just askin’.

Comment by Susan Fox — March 17, 2009 @ 12:09 pm

Wow. I'm generally surprised at a.) the tone here and b.) this conversation would be different if this was about dogs.

Consider your question when your neighbor's dog lives outside on a chain because you couldn't possibly know what's right for everyone else.

As I've said twice now, this will be the third time:

“If people want to let their cats outdoors, that’s their decision but it must come with responsibility.”

I'd prefer not to worry about how other people choose to keep their pets. But when they are at my house, it becomes my problem. So I'll continue to call AC with a nuisance complaint. If the cats get impounded, the owners made the choice and it's the consequences of their decision. They alone have to take responsibility for it.

And I generally don't see raccoons, foxes, possums, rats sitting on my front porch, peeping in the windows or peeing on the front door.

Honestly, I'm just baffled. So I'll just leave you all to it.


Dorene: If Gina says "OK" I could even send her a couple of pictures of Teddy playing with his little shark in the sink - you can see the big shark in the picture which really needs a big bathtub to zip around in.

Ark Lady

I've been around a while and this is a debate that could go on for ages and that probably will.

Outdoor cats face many risks (including predators in my area) and it is a calculated risk to let them out.

Sure, you can mitigate the situation as best as you can but there is always danger.

Cats have also been notoriously ignored by their pet parents when it comes to socialization, training, or enrichment.

On the other end of the spectrum, the issue of predation on wildlife (yes, even when they have food at home) or the passage of disease to (and from) local wildlife remain other concerns.

For a long time in my practice I have recommended that people install an aviary type of enclosure with a window entry to and from the house.

This gives a safe zone to them while also allowing them to venture out.

Perches, access to natural earth and foliage are other benefits--and are under more controlled circumstances.

Responsible pet ownership also means that you are a good neighbor but that doesn't mean that people will be so (as the comment thread here shows).

Ultimately I think it is a personal choice and a calculated risk depending on where you live and the threats faced because of the surroundings.

BTW IMO many cases of house soiling or other undesirable behavior could be eliminated with access to the stimulation of outdoor access or a great deal of work to provide environmental stimulation indoors with many of the products on the pet market today.

Gina Spadafori

Dorene: If Gina says “OK” I could even send her a couple of pictures of Teddy playing with his little shark in the sink - you can see the big shark in the picture which really needs a big bathtub to zip around in.

Comment by 2CatMom — March 17, 2009

Absolutely ...


And Heather I think we actually agree (you and I, at least) that many cats are not cared for as well as many dogs. And that pets should not bother the neighbors.

But I still think it's possible to evaluate risk/benefit and make a decision in each individual case -- no outdoor access, limited by "catiary"/cat fencing, limited by circumstances (only goes out with owner, etc.)

You disagree, and that's just fine. Except:

If the cats get impounded, the owners made the choice and it’s the consequences of their decision. They alone have to take responsibility for it.

Comment by Heather — March 17, 2009

That's still an attitude of getting the cat killed to punish the neighbors. It's the same attitude that drives the traditional sheltering concept: We have to kill the pets who come in to shelters, because anyone who'd take a pet to a shelter is bad and needs to learn the consequences of their actions.

I'm not saying that you are consciously thinking that, but that it's kind of the way we have all thought about these things -- us animal advocates anyway -- before having our core beliefs blown up by the potential of no-kill communities to save pet lives by working WITH people instead of against them.

I see any underlying idealogical parallel. Is it just me?


Those cat-proof fences ( http://www.purrfectfence.com/ ) are the BEST IDEA EVER! If I had cats I'd totally get one.

Susan Fox

"Consider your question when your neighbor’s dog lives outside on a chain because you couldn’t possibly know what’s right for everyone else."

Red Herring Alert.

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