Sage Advice: Should Kitty Get a Taste of the Outdoors?

By Amy Dickinson | December 17th, 2019

Are indoor cats suffering by not getting any outside time?


Indoor cat yearns for the outdoors but owner is unsure if it's a good idea Image

Dear Amy: I’ve had my cat, “Kitty,” for eight years. She’s 10 years old.

She has always been an indoor cat. She likes to sit by the window and watch the birds, but she gets excited and chatters when she sees them. Other than that, she seems content.

Today I spotted another cat in our backyard. He seemed to be enjoying himself. When I told my husband, he said that it is mean not to let Kitty experience life outside. But I say it is safer inside. I want her to live longer, but I don’t want her to have regrets. What should I do? As an added problem, she can’t tell me how she feels.

– Confused about Kitty

Dear Confused: If you want to shorten your cat’s life, as well as end the lives of many songbirds and animals that visit your yard, then definitely let your indoor cat roam outside.

I don’t know if cats can experience regret. They can, however, experience their own instincts: to stalk, hunt, and kill smaller animals and birds.

According to a study conducted by the Smithsonian and published in 2013, “…from 6.9 billion to as many as 20.7 billion mammals – mainly mice, shrews, rabbits and voles – are killed by cats annually in the contiguous 48 states.”

The study further concluded that cats that live in the wild (or indoor pets allowed to roam outdoors) kill from 1.4 billion to as many as 3.7 billion birds in the continental U.S. each year. (Each year!)

If you want your cat to experience the outdoors, take it outside on a leash. Do not allow it to roam on its own.


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In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2019 by Amy Dickinson

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