Lynn Youngblood writes that our domestic cats are “meant” to live indoors

Lynn, as you can tell in the title, thinks that domestic cats are “meant” to live indoors. It is the use of the word “meant” that interest me.


Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Lynn is the Executive Director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City. She has looked after animals all her life and I’m sure that she has looked after them extremely well.

She says that her cats “stay indoors no matter how much they whine, cry or ask to go outside”. That seems like quite hard language to me. It seems like a very strict regime is in place in her household. A lot of people would agree with it.

Also, it seems to me that there is no room in her thoughts for alternatives which may both be as safe in respect of cat welfare and health and be as protective of wildlife as a domestic cat living indoors full-time. What about, for instance, a large enclosure in the backyard? What’s wrong with that? I sense that she has enough space to consider a large enclosure.

Perhaps there is a fear of bugs. Obviously an enclosure cannot keep out insects and they be hazardous but is this an important consideration?

In America properties often have a lot of space around them because there is much more space in the country in general than in Europe. Why are there so few enclosures in America?

Lynn has mischosen the word “meant”. Domestic cats are not meant to live inside a person’s home all their life. They live inside a person’s home for a good reason and it is a compromise. We know the reason (a) welfare, (b) wildlife protection. It’s as simple as that. You can achieve both with a nice cat enclosure.

The advantage of a cat enclosure is that the cat gets much more stimulation in a natural environment which actually is better cat welfare. A cat living indoors full-time is good for cat welfare and health but sometimes stresses and boredom can be built up for the cat which can be bad for cat welfare. A more refined compromise is, as mentioned, an enclosure.

A domestic cat is “meant” to live partly inside and partly outside the home. That, I’d suggest, is the ultimate target but often it is a target that is unachievable for common sense reasons. Then the cat must live inside the home. As usual it is a compromise and a balanced decision depending upon all the circumstances and the environment in which the domestic cat lives.

There are many options for domestic cat living arrangements but if you say that they are meant to live inside a home then you are automatically cutting out of the equation all the possible options which may be better for cat health and welfare and just as effective in wildlife conservation.

Do you think that domestic cats are meant to live indoors all their life?

Some more on this debate.

Source: Lynn Youngblood: Our domestic cats are meant to live indoors – News – Examiner – Independence, MO

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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3 Responses

  1. Dee (Florida) says:

    I have several indoor only cats that are very contented. They have never known any other life. A few will stand at my opened door sometimes but are too afraid to venture out. It’s a scary place out there.

  2. M E King says:

    A well provided for feline will not whine beg and carry on to go outside.
    Their lifestyle is NOT a punishment.

  3. I believe that in general, cats are safest indoors, away from numerous threats to their well-being like poisonous plants, cat haters, other cats, free roaming dogs, and many other dangers.

    Enclosures are one solution, but not everyone can put up an enclosure, or have a portable one in their yard.

    When I lived in Hawaii on 5 acres of isolated land with very little traffic, my cats were indoor/outdoor. But I always got them in at night, to keep them safe from wild boar and other night roaming creatures.

    Now that I have a previously feral cat who really wants to be outside, even though she has an enclosed porch, I have a compromise which seems to work well for both of us.

    Since I adopted her 6 years ago, I got a custom fitted velcro halter and leash. When I say “Go walk”, she runs to the door and waits for me to put the halter on. Sometimes she cries at the door when it’s not a good time to go out. I just distract her with some food, cuddling and brushing until it’s a better time.

    We stay outside for about a half hour, while she watches the birds. I let go of the leash, but keep a close watch on her. She usually just hangs around her favorite spots or runs to try to catch the birds. Although I’d like to use this time to read, instead I keep a close watch on her.

    There’s one cat that lives nearby that she has chased twice. This can be dangerous, not only for obvious cat fight wounds, but the chance of getting hit by a car. So, when she starts walking in the direction of that cat’s house, I grab her leash, pulling in the opposite direction and say “let’s walk this way”. I pull her a little, and she follows my lead.

    I’m glad that I can allow her some feeling of freedom by letting go of the leash. I also let her climb a small tree to add to her adventures.

    She has two favorite yards that belong to my neighbors. They’re very interesting by contrast to others, with flowers, produce, sculptures, and places to lay in the sun.
    My neighbors seem to like that she enjoys their yards. If they didn’t, I’d have to keep her away.

    I don’t think domestic cats are meant to be anywhere that could be a threat to their safety. I see my cat the same as I would a 2 year old, with about the same awareness of potential dangers. I’m the guardian, and I take my responsibility seriously. I don’t take any chances with my cat that I wouldn’t with a 2 year old.

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