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Should cats be free to wander while dogs must be confined or on a leash?

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, January 31st, 2008 at 8:16 am in Cats, dogs.

Staff Writer Meera Pal, who covers Pleasanton, wrote a story in Wednesday’s Times (Jan. 30), about a Pleasanton woman whose cat was mauled to death by two dogs that had escaped their backyard.

Meera sent me an e-mail this morning describing the many on-line comments and phone calls she has received from readers, debating back and forth about whether the cat should have been outside its house to begin with.

Some even felt that the cat’s death was partly the cat owner’s fault, as well as partly the dog owner’s fault. Others felt it is unfair that cats are free to wander on the streets, while dogs must be kept confined or on a leash.

Meera thought I might be interested in blogging about it. She’s right.

I think this debate has been going on LOTS longer than the measly 38 years I’ve been writing this column.

I know how I feel about it.

My two cats, Tut and Newman, are indoor cats. It’s too dangerous outside for cats these days. They’re at risk from disease, cars, dogs, other meaner cats, humans who don’t want cats pooping in their yards, coyotes, etc. There are reports that say indoor cats can live up to five years longer than outdoor cats.

Just as important … I don’t want my cats to be wandering around the ecosystem killing wild birds, lizards, snakes, frogs and other wild creatures. That also puts the cats into the food chain where they can be preyed on by predators bigger than they are.

Read Meera’s story and then scroll down further to read the reader comments:

What are your thoughts on this? /Gary

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8 Responses to “Should cats be free to wander while dogs must be confined or on a leash?”

  1. bhf Says:

    Cats may be one of the biggest disturbances to wildlife in urban settings. They also scratch on the trees and poop in the landscape. Other neighbors complain of cats digging in their flower pots. I often have to ask the neighbors to keep their cats indoor. After all of the excuses I heard from one neighbor as to why her cat cannot tolerate indoor life, she came to me to complain that her cat was killed by a passing car on a nearby road. I like cats, but I like the wildlife more.

  2. takeiteasy Says:

    My cats are also indoor cats. I do not want my cats to kills birds, lizards, snakes, or disrupt the ecosystem. I feel that it is also better for cats to be indoor cats instead of being free to roam and pick up fleas, worms, viruses, diseases, etc. My cats are clean and healthy for being indoor cats. They don’t poop anywhere but in their litter boxes. They don’t bother the neighbors and they are safe from predators including cruel humans and they are safe from being catnapped. They get plenty of exercise indoors, by climing their big cat tree, playing with toys, chasing and wrestling with each other and annoying the dogs.

  3. bhf Says:

    Also, outdoor cats are fed unhealthy diets by naive neighbors who think that milk or other treats are good for the cats. The outdoor cats eat other cat food, becoming obese. They also expect to go out as they wish and may tear up the house if kept in one day. It is important to get you kitten adjusted to indoor life only at an early stage.

  4. Pat in Antioch Says:

    My cats are indoor cats because I feel that’s best for them. My opinion, (and it’s only MY OPINION) is that having a law similar to the dog leash law would not be a bad thing. My heart breaks when I see scrawny, sickly outdoor cats (or dogs) who seemingly have no one to care for them. I’m just not sure that would be easily enforced. In the meantime, there IS no law, so it’s obviously a personal choice made (one way or the other) for many reasons. Argyle’s mom is hurting now and mourning the loss of her cat. He was 16 years old & was probably an outside cat for that entire time. He was lucky to enjoy a good , long life; not all cats are that lucky. The lady doesn’t deserve the negative comments written. I’m sure she’s second guessing her choice. I, for one, won’t judge her, but she has my deepest sympathy for her loss. The bottom line is that while Argyle was just being a cat, the dogs were just being dogs. It’s up to us to ensure the safety of our pets. We’re all they have.

  5. George Lenfestey Says:

    As a kid, back in the ’30’s, I was raised, along with a dog or two and a cat, who was allowed outside, without too much trouble. So when I got married in 1950 I begged my wife to let me get a cat. But she didn’t want one, having been raised in a family that never owned one. She finally relented, though, and we got one who was allowed outside. He was hit by a car on Arlington Ave. in Berkeley though, and cost us huge vet bills, so the next one that my #4 daughter brought home was strictly an indoor one. And when I got another one from Hopalong Rescue in Berkeley to keep me company after my wife passed away in ’05, he became an indoor one too.
    But I think the biggest threat of all to cats is my brother-in-law Bill, a retired navy pilot living on Whidbey Island in Washington. He’s always joking to anyone, cat hater or lover alike, that if he ever finds a cat outside he’ll take it to Deception Pass bridge and teach it to fly. And if that doesn’t work he’ll teach it to swim. I always thought that was because his family never had cats, but later found out that he doesn’t like them bacause they sometimes kill birds. And the reason they do, I later found out, is that the sailors stationed there sometimes get cats for their families. And when they get transferred to another base and can’t take their pets with them, they simply abandon them there, outside, where cats do what they have to do to stay alive. So, if anybody should get the flying and swimming lessons, it should be the sailors who do that!

  6. Mw Says:

    I was raised that it is our responsiblity to take care of our animals and not let them bother the neighbors. My mom grew up in the country but was taught that if you lived within city limits you respected your neighbors. She hated cats but would not allow our family cat that my sister brought home to be allow outside to disrupt the neighbors property besides she didn’t want to pay out unnecessary vet bills for a cat sick from whatever it got into being raised with the thought for my neighbors my three cats are indoors and are healthy. Yes they would love to go out but no I will not allow them to as I do not want to have a sick or injured animal nor do I want my neighbors coming over to “discuss” my animal. I also have dogs which are consistently teased by a neighbor’s cat that sits on the fence above them and walks back and forth on the top rail. This same cat does this to the other dogs in the neighborhood and the woman who owns the cat has called in the neighbors dogs as well as mine for barking. One night I found the woman looking over the fence of a neighbor because her dog was barking. After discussing with her the inconsideredness of making the dog bark further by standing on the fence and looking over it I told her that there was a cat that was coming from her property teasing the dogs and if I caught it I would take it to the humanes society as it obviously was a terror of the neighborhood. She hightailed it out but I truly believe she must take full responsiblity for her animals actions also.

  7. Tammy Says:

    I have very mixed feeling about this topic as my best friend has three feral cats in his yard that were abandoned by their mother. He feeds them, and loves on them, but he refuses to get them seen by a vet, as he feels this disrupts the order of things. Well, cats are not wild animals, and unneutered they can become a huge problem not only for him but his neighbors. I am a proud mother to a toy poodle who is just as much a member of this family as my child, and is treated as such. Ever seen a wild poodle? I think not.

  8. Free Me in Newark Says:

    I think it’s cruel to confine cats and dogs in small indoor spaces. We project that they have feelings like ours but then justify totally controlling and restricting their movement.
    When the big grey cat wanders through my back yard I think about the kindness of his human partner who lets him experience lifes risks and gives him the freedom to own his nature.
    Some pet owners control numerous pets in the confinement of a small house for their whole life and call them “rescued”. I wonder if they would appreciate such “rescue” for themselves.

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