What Percentage of Cats Live Indoors?

This is really a question about cat ownership in America. Or a comparison between the attitudes of cat owners in North America and those in Europe and elsewhere.

In the United States, cats have traditionally been allowed to roam free at their will but in the last decade this practice has changed. More and more cats are now confined indoors. This cannot be said about the UK or other European countries.

There are perhaps three factors as to why a relatively high percentage of Americans keep their cats indoors at all times. The first is that there are more predators in America. They consider the domestic cat as prey. There are also many declawed cats in America and veterinarians generally advise owners to keep these cats indoors because they cannot defend themselves. Another reason is to protect the environment. There is a greater awareness by people in general with respect to environmental issues; one concern is domestic cats preying on native species. Cat owners are aware of this and increasingly so. You might wish to add a fourth reason which is that Americans more commonly see the home is a more natural environment in which the domestic cat should live.

In a preliminary study of 256 households surveyed from 1993 to 2003, the scientist Bernstein found that 50% of 503 cats were kept indoors at all times. Of those allowed outdoors only one third had unrestricted access. This survey took place some time ago.

An article on the vetstreet.com website states that 75% of their readers keep their cats indoors. The same goes for veterinary professionals they say. They also say that 58% of veterinary professionals and 51% of readers of their website believe that their cat has always been an indoor cat even before they adopted the cat.

These figures are higher than the earlier figures which is unsurprising because there is a trend towards keeping cats indoors in North America. I had thought that around a third of Americans kept their cats indoors but that figure seems to be outdated.

In the UK I would be surprised if more than 10% of cat owners kept their cats indoors at all times. The overriding culture on this matter in the UK is to let cats roam freely. I believe this attitude should change in England in particular as the country becomes more crowded with more traffic. I believe that the attitude in England that cats should be allowed outside is outdated. But it is deeply ingrained as many cat owners believe that their cats need the freedom to express themselves and behave normally. And there are no predators in the UK interested in preying on domestic cats. This removes one obstacle to allowing cats outside. However, as is the case in America, there are cat haters who like to poison or shoot at cats and this is another common reason why cats should be kept indoors.

In countries other than those in North America or Europe, I would expect to find far more community cats and far less of an attitude that cats should be confined to the indoors. Indeed I would expect almost no domestic cats to be confined to the indoors in many of these countries such as in Central and South America, Africa or in Asia. It could be argued that this is as a result of a less refined or less well-developed relationship between human and domestic cat in some of these countries

6 thoughts on “What Percentage of Cats Live Indoors?”

  1. There are a couple of reasons you may have forgotten. 1. In the US, rescues often ask you to sign a paper that you’ll keep your cat indoors. 2. The US vets and shelters strongly insist that you keep your cat indoors which of course influences the mindset. 3. Some condos complexes in the US require that cats are kept indoors. Of course, this isn’t always enforced, in our complex we have this rule, but there are still some outdoor cats and nobody touches them, but there is always a fear that something would happen. In a co-op my parents used to live, there was a really nice little courtyard surrounded by several buildings, and there have always been cats there. But then the co-op introduced a rule that all cats need to be kept indoors, but it only applied to new cats not those already allowed outdoors which, of course, made it impossible to enforce. At any rate, this adds to the general intolerance for outdoor cats and fear that if you allow your cat outdoor a neighbor that doesn’t like outdoor cats catches it and takes it to shelter or something like it.

  2. i feel there r far more reasons to keep MY cats indoors than to let them roam. the least of these to me are preadators cuz i live n the city. there r cars, catching something from rats/squirrels/& other cats, not to mention that even being able to “defend themselves” does NOT guarantee that they will come away without a scratch even if they “win”(& it adds an UNNECESSARY vet visit especially if they “lose”), then there r people that will try to keep YOUR cat for their own even if they have a collar(which means if u let YOUR cat out & they r gone for a while they MAY not b coming back no matter how hard u search for them), & the poisoners/cat-killers out there. there r also those few good-natured people that will trap your cat n order to find its owner, but being trapped is still a traumatic experience for them(tho if MY cat EVER got out id rather one of them find him than the others!). lets not forget that cats have been domesticated for a VERY long time which means 2 things: 1 they r USED to living alonside people i.e. WITHIN their domisiles & 2 a cat BECOMES FERAL when they r left to their own devises…outdoors(& there r a TON of dangers associated with THAT too). i DONT think this is an American, UK, S.America, etc issue.ii FEEL(MY opinion ONLY) its how deeply connected to our animals. i LOVE my cats & i WANT to keep them safe NO MATTER WHAT. i make sure they r stimulated, i spend time with them as often as possible…INSIDE. i believe that if u do THAT they wont NEED to go outside, which i DONT believe they NEED to at all. ive seen among many of the Hispanic people IVE lived near(again NOT saying ALL just those I have lived near, i.e. my neighborhood)that they have a VERY lax behavior towards their animals, both dogs AND cats. they tend to let them roam & do whatever they wish & if u call them on it(their dog poohs n your yard or tears it up)they take ZERO responsibility saying “its what they do” & if their cat gets hit its the kids that cry & the parents that say “thats what happens if u dont run fast enough”. again, i am NOT saying ALL just those ive lived near, but i FEEL that THAT kind of attitude indicates a lack of respect for the animal as well as a disconnect, a lack of true affection FOR their pet. its like having a pet for the fun, but not the responsibility inherant n having a pet(or companion. to me it means the same thing cuz itd crush me if ANYTHING happen to my cats, & it doesnt get any closer than THAT for me, plus my cat will soon become my emotional rescue pet or whatever they call it). personally i HOPE more people start keeping their cats indoors so NOONE sees the body of a cat laying on the side of the road cuz it got hit, or finding out their cat was caught by someone that doesnt care & harmed or killed them, let alone if their cat loses a fight & has greiviuos injuries as a result…maybe having to b put down(which our vet has said happens more times than shed thought before she became a vet). theres WAAAYYY too much out there that could happen when MY cat is outside of MY supervision for ME to allow that. i see it like how i care for my kids. i DONT let them go wherever they want whenever they want cuz I LOVE THEM & WANT TO KEEP THEM SAFE; if i didnt id let them b left to their own devices(& id pay the consequences for it too, i.e. teen pregnancy, drugs/alcohol dependance, car crashes, etc). i let them go out & do things, but AFTER i KNOW its a safe place for them to b. THATS MY JOB as a parent. it will NEVER b safe for a cat left outside to their own devices. they r curious which is a good & bad thing. they dont say ‘curiosity killed the cat’ for nothing. however bad of a joke that was its still true. cats curisoty has gotten them killed far too many times. thats why indoor cats get trapped by bad people so often, or poisoned. it SUX that there r people out there like that. it SUX that some people dont pay attention when they drive. unfortunately its a fact of life, one we MUST take into consideration if we truly love our pets. im NOT saying that the people that allow this DONT care for them. i think we dont always see the dangers of things unless its been brought to our attention. THAT is why im saying all this, so others will HOPEFULLY see the real dangers of letting their cat(s) roam free, & HOPEFULLY reconsider. if not they its duly noted & they can take the consequences to themselves, their family, & most importantly their cat(s) on themselves.
    apologies if i pissed ANYONE off by this. that was NOT my intent. God Bless


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