Normal for cat owners to feel guilty about not letting their cat outdoors

Dr Bruce Fogle, the well-known veterinarian and author, says:

“Judging by what people tell me when they bring their cat to the clinic, it’s pretty much normal for owners to feel guilty about not letting their felines outdoors….”

He then goes on to write that cat owners should not feel guilty about this because “many cats” are perfectly comfortable leading an indoor life.

Cat on tree with leash
Cat on tree with leash. Leashes are an option for safe outdoor experiences but it probably takes too much work to train a cat for most cat owners. Original photo by ECP on Flickr.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

I am interested in his observation that the majority of cat owners feel guilty about keeping their cats inside the home, full-time. Dr. Bruce Fogle lives in England, UK as far as I am aware, so he is probably referring to English people and there is a different attitude to cat caretaking in England compared to America.

English people by-and-large believe cats should be allowed to go out and therefore if for some reason they feel they have to keep their cat in full-time, they feel guilty.

Conversely, it seems, but I am not sure, that the fairly high percentage of Americans who keep their cats inside permanently do not feel guilty about it. Quite the contrary I suspect. They almost certainly believe they are doing what they have to do to keep their cat safe and that is the first duty of a cat owner.

Perhaps, as well, American cat owners are more likely to believe that cats are perfectly content indoors, full-time. This is another reason why they are unlikely to feel guilty about it.

In fact most Americans would probably scoff at the thought of being guilty for keeping their cat inside all the time. It seems like common sense to keep their cats inside.

I am one of those people who would feel guilty. This is because I believe a cat should experience nature because it is their right and it must be stimulating for the cat to hear, smell and see what is going on in the natural environment.

The interesting thing for me is that when I stayed in America the family I was with kept their cats inside full-time but they had a large unused garden part of which they could have turned into a large outside enclosure. That would have allowed their cats to enjoy the outside safely.

On that basis I conclude they didn’t believe their cats would benefit in anyway in being allowed to go outside, which is where we diverge in opinion because for me common sense dictates that it is beneficial for a cat to experience the outside provided it is safe to do so. Mental stimulation and physical activity must be beneficial.

That said I fully respect the views of others even if we disagree. There is a cultural difference too, which plays a role in attitudes.

If by some stroke of luck an American reads this, I’d like them to tell me if they feel guilty keeping their cat inside.

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45 thoughts on “Normal for cat owners to feel guilty about not letting their cat outdoors”

  1. Sorry part of that didnt make sense. What I was meaning in the First part is As the English Ways are very much part of New Zealand Life We follow alot of our customs to English just not totally thats all.

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