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I live in Los Angeles and my two year-old cat is dying to go outside and run. But I'm afraid that if I let him out he will:

  • run away or
  • get run over by a car or
  • get eaten by a wild animal (apparently there are some around here)

Is there a thing like a closed garden where I can take him to run around? I've looked it up on Google but I haven't found anything.

He's actually very social, particularly for a cat. He tends to love other cats and humans. He's afraid of some dogs, but I'm sure he'd get over it with the right experience.

It just breaks my heart to see him meow at the closed window. There must be a place I can take him to.

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I would definitely look into harnesses and leashes and supervise him while outside. I wouldn't let your kitty run off freely on its own in the city. Does L.A. have a park that people take their pets to? –  Nicole Rae Apr 24 at 3:02
    
I have a harness and a leash for him, but I'm not sure it's a good solution. He seems to want to run around and not have me hold him back. –  eje211 Apr 24 at 4:55
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If you have the right environment, you could consider a cat door leading to a cat run - a wired enclosure that lets your cat explore outside but protects him from predators. You would have to deal with fleas and other parasites, but wouldn't need to worry about him getting hit by a car. –  Kate Paulk Apr 24 at 11:25
    
@eje211 Hmmm. Well if he isn't bothered by just having a harness on you could attach the leash to it and let him go. That way if he does run off it's easier to catch him. –  Nicole Rae Apr 24 at 13:27
    
I have a very active 1 year old male neutered cat. I thought that letting him go outside would be fun for him from time to time. I have now changed my mind, as last weekend he was attacked and almost killed by a feral male cat twice his size. He almost lost his life, not to mention the very expensive ER vet bill. I will now keep him inside. It is not worth the worry and heartache of possibly losing him again. Just my experience. –  Katy Jun 2 at 15:28

3 Answers 3

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Cats should be indoors only, or supervised outdoors

You are right to be concerned about letting your cat outside unsupervised. Keeping your cats indoors protects against MANY problems that can make your cat sick or die! According to the American Humane Society, cats who are either part-time or full-time allowed to roam outdoors alone face the following risks:

  • Disease (feline leukemia (FeLV), feline AIDS (FIV),FIP (feline infectious peritonitis), feline distemper (panleukopenia), upper respiratory infections (or URI))
  • Parasites (fleas, ticks, ear mites, intestinal worms, ringworm (a fungal infection))
  • Car strikes
  • Animal cruelty (neighborhood children)
  • Injury from other animals (both wild and domestic)
  • Toxins and poisions (in addition to rodenticide, antifreeze is sweet and delicious, but deadly!)
  • Trees (if a cat can't/won't climb down, he'll get dehydrated and weak, eventually falling)

In addition, a study highlighted by the National Wildlife Federation found

  • By some estimates, outdoor cats in the United States kill more than 1 million birds every day on average. Other studies suggest the death toll is as high as 1 billion per year.
  • Outdoor cats transmit rabies, toxoplasmosis, typhus, plague and other viral and parasitic diseases to both wildlife and humans.

Cats can be Content Indoors with Enough Stimulation

Your cat does not have to be physically chasing prey to be mentally stimulated by it. The Anti-Cruelty Society states:

Even if the cat isn't chasing, jumping or otherwise very physically engaged the mental part of play is beneficial.

Your cat is stimulated by watching out the window. One way to encourage this engagement is to add birdfeeders to your yard, as Joanne McGonagle of the Tiniest Tiger did.

It's important to understand that just because your cat is fascinated by what's going on outside the window, he may not actually want to go outside. All of my cats LOVE watching birds and squirrels through our windows, but when we put a harness on Hunter and took him outside (in our own yard that he sees every day) he absolutely hated it and wanted to go back inside immediately.

Outside Supervision

If you still want to take your cat outdoors, there are methods outlined in How to let an indoor cat have some outdoor time safely?

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You're right to be cautious. Run over, run away, injured, made sick... are all likely outcomes. Good luck finding a safe place to take your cat out to.

I have seen people take their cats out, a closed garden area sounds like a good option if you can find one... again that doesn't rule out something bad happening involving another dog, cat, or other animal (or picking up a parasite, disease...).

Cats are wonderful creatures and should be paraded about, but at the same time ones that live indoors live longer and healthier than their outdoor or part outdoor counterparts.

A body harness and leash should address the run away concern (or at least make it less likely), a closed park should eliminate the run over concern. If you can carry a robust carrier and have the trust from him to get him in it if an altercation with another animal threatens... that would reduce the chance of bad fights.

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I don't get this thing where in the US cats seem to be kept indoor whereas here in Europe everybody lets their cats walk in and out as much as they want. Sure, cats do get hit sometimes, but I have heard about that like... once or twice in my life? And yes, cats are also allowed to freely roam in the bigger cities.

Either way, in regards to your concerns: No, cats are bound to a place (as long as there is food in that place) so they are incredibly unlikely to run away. Yes, getting run over by cars happens and No, cats are pretty agile creatures quite high up in their respective parts of the food chains and them getting eaten... seems incredibly unlikely (of which animals are you thinking?).

And to finish it of, here in the Netherlands often a distinction is made between indoor cats and outdoor cats. For some reason some cats simply want to spend all their time away from home and some stay inside despite both getting raised in the same family from the same age. I have never heard for a good explanation for this, but in case your cat is the outdoor type it seems incredibly cruel to lock a cat inside all the time. I am not sure whether a cat will still learn all the 'tricks' to living outdoor at that age, so that's a separate question, but in and on itself it seems very odd behavior (no matter the fact that I have heard other Americans doing the same thing).

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And btw, it's awesome how here in the Netherlands you can just walk around through the street, get to know the cats living in the neighborhood and greet them every day as you walk past their territories :D. From my time in the US I can't remember meeting any cats like that... but then again, I was there just for 2 weeks. –  David Mulder Apr 24 at 11:18
    
This is an interesting anecdote. But I'm not sure it gives an answer to the question. –  Matt S. Apr 24 at 14:05
    
I'm from Paris. I used to live in a place with a closed garden. Then I lived in London in another place with a closed garden. Then I lived in Pittsburgh. In all of those places, I saw cats walking around, particularly in Pittsburgh. But that does not mean that it's safe for my cat to do it. Also, apparently, it's much safer for cats to walk around in a city if they've had somewhere to practice in the countryside first. –  eje211 Apr 24 at 16:50
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In much of the US coyote is probably the most common predator of the housecat. Regionally, large cats, bears, and alligators at least. –  Zaralynda Apr 24 at 17:09
    
In the US some people (like myself) have indoor only cats, some people have cats that are inside and outside, and others have cats that are largely or almost always outside. Statistically the lifespan of a cat decreases based on how much time it spends outdoors. Cats being hit by cars is actually VERY common. I see dead cats on the road from time to time. Other animals can kill, injure, or give diseases to cats. Cats can pick up diseases and parasites outside... –  Dan S Apr 25 at 1:36

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