It is an interesting analogy: allowing your cat to roam around outside unsupervised is like opening your front door, pushing your 3-year-old child out and closing the door. And then totally forgetting about it for the indefinite future.
In so many terms that is what PETA says happens when cat owners let their cats outside unsupervised or in an unconfined area. The freedom comes at a potentially high price: injury and death sometimes.
“Allowing cats to roam outdoors unattended is just as dangerous and unwise as allowing a toddler to wander down the street alone.”
I though about this for a while to see if I could find a weakness in the argument. There is no weakness except this one: human toddlers are not cats.
The point is that people are prepared to allow their cat to risk injury or death at the hands of some cat hating nut or on the roads etc. but care more for their child and couldn’t possible allow their child to take the same risks.
It must come down to how humans relate to cats compared to kids. Cats are dispensable at the end of the day for many people while kids are positively precious to be protected at all costs and rightly so (unless you are Assad in Syria!).
So when we write about domestic cats being family members it is true for millions of families but untrue for millions more because you would not let a human member of the family aged 3 go outside unsupervised.
Many Americans keep their cats inside. Many Americans don’t. Most Britons don’t. The British can’t claim to be animal loving. They might like to think that they are but they are deceiving themselves. They are no more animal loving that people of other Western countries and possibly less so than Americans.
Domestic cats should be allowed to roam freely in a confined indoor/outdoor area of sufficient size. Leash training is also a decent idea to allow owners to take their cat beyond the confines of the cat containment area. That is the only compromise possible between allowing cats to express natural desires freely while maintaining a sufficient level of safety and security for the cat.
P.S. The child in the photo was immediately run over by a car – and survived unscathed.