LIFE WI TH CATTITUDE
We love our cats, so why in the world would we expect them to cope with the harsh realities of life outside? Defenders maintain that there’s a tradeoff, but studies report that indoor-only cats live several years longer than cats who sometimes navigate life outside.
The Case for
Indoors vs. Outdoors
BY STEVE DALE
Sixty years ago, indoors vs. out-
doors wasn’t an issue. Most cats came
and went as they pleased. It wasn’t
welfare issues that changed their
world, encouraging more indoor
cats in the U.S. — it was the arrival
of mass-manufactured scoopable
clumping cat litter. Back in the feline
dark ages, litter boxes weren’t sold
either. Some cat caretakers improvised
with plastic dishpans or even cooking
pans filled with anything from coal to
dirt, but cats mostly did their business
outside. When it became clear that
most cats would use manufactured
litter, more cats were eventually transi-
tioned to life indoors.
The advent of manufactured cat
litter and boxes meant that cats could
more easily be kept as indoor pets.
And within only a few years, cats took
over their canine cousins as America’s
most popular pet.
Back in 1994, after writing a pop-
ular book, The Tribe of Tiger, author
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, who
was in rural New Hampshire, told
me, “Choice is very important (as to
whether to go indoors and outdoors).
I feel cats should control their own
destinies, even if there’s some risk;
live by the sword, die by the sword.”
In the 1990s these comments weren’t
By 2004 just over half of all U.S.
cats were kept strictly indoors, nearly
twice the number of 20 years prior.
According to the American Pet
Product Association’s National Pet
Owners Survey, in 2004 about a third
of all cats could go inside or outside
as they pleased, with the remaining 17
percent outside only. By 2014, about
70 percent are defined as indoor only,
with about 25 percent inside or out-