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Is it cruel to keep a cat indoors full time?

(48 Posts)
user1493202565 Fri 30-Jun-17 22:19:02

Hello all,

All my life i have had dogs and have always wanted a cat. I would really like to get one now but I really need some opinions from people with more experience with cats than me.

I am absolutely terrified of letting a cat out where we live now. Every 2 out of 3 houses in my neighbourhood have a dog. A lot of them are quite unstable and the owners are completely unaware of this fact. Many of them let dogs roam free that they have absolutely no control over.

Furthermore we are quite close to a busy road and we live next to a canal so we have tons of ducks and water birds running around with little chicklings right now.

So for the sake of the cat, and the birds, and my own sanity, if i were to get a cat it would be "indoors only". Would this be selfish and cruel to the cat? Are some breeds better adapted to being indoors than others? I wouldnt normally go for a breeder but will my cat be more stressed to be inside if I get a stray from the shelter who was used to being outside? Would having 2 cats be better than 1 for stimulation/preventing boredom?

For reference, I am mostly home so the cat would have plenty of daily play/engagement. We live in a 3 story house about 150m2 so not a huge place but not a tiny apartment either. We do have a dog but he is quite decent with cats, just stays out of their way and does his own thing. And he is generally not allowed on 2n and 3rd stories so the cat would have plenty of eacape spots if it needed it. We have a pretty small garden, would it be an option to "cat-proof" the garden or let the cat be on a very long leash for them to get some fresh air?

Thank you in advance for any and all advice. Sorry for any typos, nightmare to type on my phone.

user1493202565 Fri 30-Jun-17 22:20:34

For clarification when I say cat proof the garden I mean cat proof the fence so they cant climb over it.

Allergictoironing Fri 30-Jun-17 22:31:37

Some people think it's cruel to keep cats indoors all the time, some don't. Mine are indoors as I'm paranoid about the evil local tom that beats up all the local cats really badly, cars, dogs, accidents, poisoning (both accidental & intentional), and that big bad tom - bad enough to list twice [eek]. Also they are ex-Feral & spent their first year in a Feral colony, so there's a fair chance that if they did go out they may never come home again.

There are some breeds that tend to be better suited to indoor life (e.g. Persian, or breeds with minimal hair like Devon Rex). There are also some cats that need to be indoors for health reasons, cats with special needs or FIV.

ChishandFips33 Fri 30-Jun-17 22:32:04

One of mine is pretty much an indoor cat - mainly her choice though

When she did venture out she went no further than the back yard', again by her own choice (no gate on) - she was like this when she was a kitten at her previous home too so just in her nature I guess

She's old and grumpy now so still isn't so bothered

The other cat - absolutely the opposite - try keeping the bugger in!

MycatsaPirate Fri 30-Jun-17 22:32:27

We have four cats and only boy cat bothers to leave the garden, the girls are all pretty much home cats, one of them rarely goes out, is content to sit in the conservatory unless it's very hot.

Try looking at rescues for an older cat or a pair of older cats who are less likely to want to hunt/roam free. There are hundreds of cats in rescues needing good homes and the older cats do make lovely pets, they are already litter trained and less destructive. Plus if you live in a built up area, you may find that there will already be cats looking for homes that are used to being indoors.

Branleuse Fri 30-Jun-17 22:33:47

I think its probably as cruel as having a dog and never walking it, or having a child and never taking it out to play. Im sure there us an element of not missing what youve never had, but its a bit of a half life, and a shame

ChishandFips33 Fri 30-Jun-17 22:34:26

Supervet this week had a cat on. His owner put a cat flap in and on his first venture out got knocked down, poor thing

The owner had a London home, small outdoor area and cat proofed the borders with a wire fence that angled in over for when he got home

BaDumShh Fri 30-Jun-17 22:37:05

My cat is an indoor cat and she is perfectly happy. It really depends on the personality of the cat. I adopted my cat from a shelter and specified to them that I wanted a cat that would be happy being a house cat. My girl is lazy and a total diva, she just lounges around all day grin speak to your local shelter, I'm sure they will have cats that would suit you.

StinkyMcgrinky Fri 30-Jun-17 22:38:41

Some cats need to be indoor cats. My old boy was FIV+ (feline HIV) and we adopted him on the understanding he would be an indoor car. Even if the back door was open he wouldn't ever attempt to get out. He had his comfy bed, a palace-esque scratch post and toys galour and lived to the ripe old age of 21.

I volunteered for Cats Protection for many years and there are definitely homes needed for indoor cats, have a look at your local rehoming centres and ask questions

BaDumShh Fri 30-Jun-17 22:39:12

chishandfips I saw that episode, the poor little thing :-(

ChishandFips33 Fri 30-Jun-17 22:43:19

episode here

Toward the end you get a glimpse of the safety fence...better than the alternative he's already faced

BaDum it was amazing what he managed to do wasn't it...and Poppy the puppy was bloody gorgeous

MimsyBorogroves Fri 30-Jun-17 22:44:27

I have 3 cats. One is in and out as he pleases. The other 2 are oriental types and don't go out. One is way too stupid and would end up under a car in seconds. The other is terrified (she got out once and ended up digging herself under a shed to cry and hide). Terrified one watches out of the window for DS coming home, and will sometimes watch birds, but neither of them seems remotely interested anyway.

gingerhousecat Fri 30-Jun-17 22:46:15

Our two are indoor cats - always have been as we lived in a high apartment and couldn't let them out. Now we have a house with a garden they come out if we're outside but I always bring them in as they have no road sense etc.
I would say that my female cat really isn't bothered about going out but my tom cat does want to be outside more and can be annoying mieowing at you or having to chase him round the garden to get him back in!

ThePurpleOneWithTheNut Fri 30-Jun-17 22:58:57

My gut feeling was initially yes, because my two love their freedom this time of year even though they do stay home mainly. They just like knowing they have the option for a patrol round the block.

But in reality not all cats have had a happy start or feel confident about being out or even have somewhere safe to be out.

This could be a wonderful opportunity for a rescue cat, (many of whom are nervous for lots of reasons and need to feel secure indoors) to find a new and loving home. In your situation that"s where I would begin looking for a cat.

You sound like you'd be a lovely caring cat owner and are not rushing in to anything without a lot of thought. I hope you find the right cat soon 🐱

DumbledoresApprentice Sat 01-Jul-17 07:34:31

I have a perfectly happy indoor cat. When I was growing up our cats were always indoor only. I got my cat from a shelter fully expecting that she would go outside because that's what she'd been used to before but she's not interested in outdoors at all and spends 5 minutes on the edge of the patio eating grass then runs inside so we keep her indoors for the most part. I'm used to indoor cats so perfectly happy with that. I worry that my cat is too friendly and fond of strangers to free-roam too as it makes her quite vulnerable to cruelty.

insancerre Sat 01-Jul-17 07:37:54

My neighbours cat shits in my garden, tries to get our rabbit, sits on our car and scratches it, I also can't leave my French doors open as it comes in uninvited every bloody time
I wish it was an indoor cat

EpoxyResin Sat 01-Jul-17 07:46:16

I 100% agree with that saying go to a rescue and ask them to tell you which cats would be happy as indoor cats. DO NOT go to a breeder/get a kitten; you need to know the temperament of your cat in these circumstances or you may end up with a cat desperate to roam free who cries at the door all day and all night.

My whole life I've had outdoor cats, until my most recent two who just happened - for one reason or another - to not be suited to outdoor life. One was very old and had no interest beyond sitting on a windowsill in the sun. The other had a tough start in life and was very nervous when we got her. She's since really come out of herself and is pleased to now be the queen of our castle, although she still views the outside world and even an open door with deep suspicion.

BertrandRussell Sat 01-Jul-17 07:47:24

Yes. End of story. Cats are not indoor animals. Part of owning a cat is living with the possibility that they won't come home.

user1497480444 Sat 01-Jul-17 07:52:25

We have had three cats, one loved going out, and two hated it and refused to.

You can talk to an animal shelter, and ask if they need any indoor cats rehoming.

Taking a lightly older cat that has already shown its preferences gives you more chance of ending up with an animal happy to stay indoors; if you but a kitten you don't know what will happen as its personality develops.

We've had all of ours from kittens, as it happens, and there is no way we could have predicted which would have wanted to go out, and which not.

My friend has had lots of rescue cats, and so knew a bit more about what she was getting

user1497480444 Sat 01-Jul-17 07:55:25

The other had a tough start in life and was very nervous when we got her. She's since really come out of herself and is pleased to now be the queen of our castle, although she still views the outside world and even an open door with deep suspicion.

This is like my big daft boy, currently asleep on my lap! A feral kitten, used to fending for himself, rehomed through an animal shelter, we assumed he would be a bit of a ranger. No. As far as he is concerned, inside is where nice things happen, outside is cold and lonley and dangerous. His opinion hasn't wavered in 9 years!

Dawnedlightly Sat 01-Jul-17 08:00:35

I love cats but don't have one as I think they just don't work as outdoor animals here although that's what they want to be. They kill birds, shit in other people's gardens and get knocked over. sad
Agree with pp- get one from a rescue who's used to living indoors. 🐱

Catminion Sat 01-Jul-17 08:02:15

No it is not cruel. I have an indoor cat. She was a rescue cat who was living in a bed sit when I got her. Her owner could no longer keep her. All the rescues around here are full because they only adopt to people with secure gardens and have a low turnover. Her alternative was being traded on Gumtree to dog baiters or the like.

My cat also turned out to be scared of other cats.

I understand that in the USA it is quite normal for most cats to live indoors.

Before I got her I contacted rescue centres offering to adopt a cat with health issues that was not allowed outside but they said they had none available.

RoganJosh Sat 01-Jul-17 08:06:17

You could get an adult rescue cat that had always been an indoor cat, but I don't think that works with the dog.
I think it would be cruel to put an adult cat with a dog. A kitten might get used to it, but then you'd have the indoor issue.

I think as you already have a dog then you don't need a cat as well.

Yogagirl123 Sat 01-Jul-17 08:08:32

I have owned 3 cats and they have always come and gone as they pleased, like cats should in my opinion. A vet once said to me, that my cat, was a proper cat and that she couldn't believe his age, he was a very fit, outdoor cat she said cats that live his type of life tend to live longer than lap cats. I suppose it makes sense, animals in captivity tend to have shorter lives. Someone I know had 3 cats, Siamese and kept them locked up in a tiny run, being able to see a garden but never let out, very cruel and they all died very young. I really can't see the point in having any animal unless you let them enjoy their life, unfortunately pets are not here for long enough as it is.

mintbiscuit Sat 01-Jul-17 08:10:52

Indoor cats are fine but you need to watch their diet and calorie intake. We use a raw food diet for ours which stops overeating. Also, you need to make sure you have a few places they can climb up high (cats love to hide away up high for peace and quiet from family). If you can rig up shelves etc for them to climb on and scratching posts that helps a lot. Also, we bought 2 (brother and sister) so they have company.

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