A reader writes:
I've been biting my tongue during the whole "Purring Murderer" debate, but as the owner of two rescue cats and a die-hard bird-lover, I feel it's my duty to say something after seeing those preposterous bibs and other "tricks." Here's how you keep your cat from killing birds, contracting feline HIV, or getting run over by a car: Keep them inside, permanently.
Our cats are happy living indoors. Sure, they would probably love to go outside and chase (and kill) birds, etc., but since they've never done it, they don't miss it. It's why we would never do "supervised" outdoor time. Our dogs would love to chew on shoes and furniture all day (and probably would have eaten the cats, happily), but we've trained them not to do it. The difference with cats is that you can't train them like you can train dogs. Keep them indoors, always. The occasional moth, mouse or laser pointer for them to chase is just fine. They can sit in windows. They're cats – feed them, love them, play with them, and they're happy.
I have one friend who is insistent that her cats are happier because they're outdoors. But she also buries a cat every other year from cars or fights with unknown animals – and those cats are also killing an untold number of birds in their shortened lives (but supposedly "happier") lives.
You hear this same argument about people. There are some folks who think that life was better for hunter gatherers because they didn't have to ride a bus to work or answer idiotic emails from dumb co-workers or clients. No – prehistoric people lived shorter, nastier lives, dying from what are now treatable diseases or in childbirth at alarming rates. Sure, they weren't cooped up in the house, but I think they would swap places with us, who have to worry about very little in comparison, in a heartbeat. They might not understand why the house cat is wearing a bib, though.
Growing up, my family had cats that were allowed outdoors. Not only did they kill, but they every so often got fleas or ticks, and even more so ended up the victim of being the inferior cat at the hands (er – paws!) of the neighborhood bully cat. Also, there's risk to several cat diseases if there's a run-in with another cat who is infected (namely FIV, Feline Leukemia, and of course, rabies from any animal – especially infected kill!).
So, what is the benefit to letting a cat out of doors? There is none, really. Or at least the risks WAY outweigh any benefits. My current kitty Gretel and my last one who passed away last year never saw the out of doors. And actually, the shelter I adopted them from had it in in their contract: indoors only.
Another sends the above photo:
"Bitty" is a now 9-year-old DSH whom I found on the road as a kitten, suffering from maladies that would make her almost completely blind. Only a few days ago, I took this photo of Bitty near-comatose in the sunshine as a feral bunny grazed itself across our back lawn. Can't we all just get along?