Letter to editor: Make your cat an ‘indoor only’ kitty


It’s 1:35 in the morning and I can’t sleep. My wife and I witnessed a tragedy yesterday and I can’t stop thinking about it. We were on our way to an appointment with my opthamologist in downtown Seattle. As we cut through a residential area on our way to Ballinger Way, we came across a large cat that had just been hit by a car. It was a beautiful cat with Siamese coloring. Its tail was thrashing, but the body was motionless. We immediately pulled over and frantically discussed what, if anything, we could do. We decided to see if we could knock on some doors and alert the owners. Just then, a truck drove slowly by, and the driver pointed to a nearby house and said “That’s where the cat lives.”

I went to the door and knocked with some urgency. A male voice called out “What do you want?” “Your cat has been hit by a car!” I responded. The door opened and a man looked past me to the scene on the street. “I thought you might want to retrieve the body before any children see it,” I added.

I returned to our car and we continued on our way. In the rearview mirror, I could see the man coming from his house with a woman right behind him. She knelt to the pavement, her face contorted in uncontrollable sobs. This cat was obviously a beloved pet.

My wife and I are cat lovers. Our last one was an indoor-only cat. We had her for 14 years (from kitten to her passing). It took us a year of grieving before we could adopt another one. The one we have now is an indoor only cat. We have made this choice for several reasons.

First, we enjoy our birds; and cats are too good a predator. It’s just not fair to our birds to have cats in the foliage. Second, there are too many coyotes around. Our neighbors once had five indoor/outdoor cats. After losing two of them to coyotes, they now have indoor-only cats. Third, our vet tells us there is less chance for an indoor-only cat to get into fights or catch a disease.

I understand that most any cat will prefer to go outside. There’s so much for them to do outside. And if they are an indoor-only cat, you have to play with them more for them to get exercise. However, I feel the trade-off is worth it.

So if you have an indoor/outdoor cat, I highly recommend you make one of your New Year’s resolutions to make your beloved kitty an “indoor-only” feline. He or she will thank you in the end. Besides, I need my beauty sleep!

Ken Pickle

  1. Heartbreaking… and this is why all my cats are indoor-only.

    And keep them away from furniture that folds up or out… there’s a story to go along with that and that’s the one that keeps ME up at night.

  2. As a multiple cat owner for 47 years in Edmonds I find this to be a sad letter.

    We never lost or had a cat hurt until 2005 when one of ours was trapped by a human. The end result of that is the controversial and unenforceable cat leash law pushed by Dianne Buckshnis. I say unenforceable because it is rarely enforced and then normally only upon complaint. It would be outrageously expensive and extremely difficult to truly enforce properly.

    So now, since 2005, we keep our two kitties indoors. This is working well for us as our current cats have never enjoyed the outdoors. If your cat has been customarily outside, he or she will be very very difficult to keep inside. If a cat wants out he WILL get out, period. In this situation pray all of your neighbors are kindly.

    Another point: About every 6 months I note a missing cat sign on the telephone poles. Most of the time no sign of kitty is ever seen again. So I strongly suggest that if they do go outside just keep them inside at night. Coyotes roam the city, and are especially active at night. I am certain in my own mind that most missing cats have fallen prey to a coyote. Coyotes are around sometimes in daylight hours but you will notice they seem to be traveling rather than hunting.

    1. Few cat stories are posted here that escape the “unenforceable” cat “leash” law comment(s).

      First, this law/ordinance, as well as many others enacted to protect persons (you or others) and/or their property, are not enforced through proactive pursuit of violators. That does not mean that it is unenforceable. For example, there is a WA state law that requires walkers to walk facing traffic (if no sidewalk). How often does one see walkers on the wrong side of the road? Every day in my experience. How many times has the Edmonds PD enforced that law? My bet is fewer times than the animal control law. Would it be logical to argue that the walker law be repealed because it is “unenforceable?” Of course not.

      Second, the animal control ordinance does not require cats (nor dogs for that matter) to be on a leash. It requires the responsible owner to maintain control to prevent the animal from running at large. Maintaining control could be a leash, but could also be a fence, a kennel, your arms, and I’m sure many other means of one’s choice.

  3. Cats also fall prey to other wild animals, humans, cars, and more. When Edmonds was less populated and everyone knew everyone else, mostly, I lived there. Fortunately, in the 50s and early 60s, we did not have many cats taken by predators or even cars. So all our cats were abl to get outdoors but be indoors when they needed to be. Now, where I live, our three cats are strictly indoors, because one has only one functioning eye, and another is mostly deaf. The third could be an outdoor cat, but too much traffic where we live and too many predators. While I have never seen any coyotes around here, it is a possibility. Our cats are our children, and we love them so much, we would rather have them alive for a long time than be able to play outside. Since we are retired, we have lots of time to play with them , and to give them lots of attention. They are ages 13, 12 and 9. May everyone see the value of keeping their cats indoors, too, because there are lots of little parasites they can get from being outside, too. Or poisons.

    Thanks for this letter. I hope someone, perhaps the author of the letter, will write an article and let it be published by My Edmonds News.

  4. I’m more worried about the trapping – my cat got trapped, too, and turned over to the Animal Control people. He was half a day from being put down when I discovered that the neighbor had been using traps…

    He (the cat!) lived to a ripe old age as an in- and out-door cat, both in Edmonds and at my ranch in rural BC. Many neighbors near the ranch lost cats to various predators over he years (horses, too!). I’ve always thought his survival was due to always being in- and out doors, and thus having learned caution at an early age. Indoor cats don’t have the outdoor experience to protect them.

    He’s gone now, and I miss him very much. But owing to our silly laws, I simply can’t see having a cat that I have to confine indoors. But I understand those that do.

    Best wishes to all cat lovers!

  5. Mr. Martin, Sorry to refresh your memory. The cat containment law had been in effect for years as a result of your neighbor capturing one of your cats even before we lived in your neighborhood. I wasn’t even on Council in 2005 – so I am sorry, you will have to find another Council Member to blame.

  6. A friend of mine had indoor/outdoor cats and lived on a busy street here in Edmonds. He loved his cats very much. Out of the 4 that I knew, 2 were hit by cars (and just left in the street by whomever hit them, which I will never understand) and 1 was attacked and killed by a coyote (that he unfortunately found in his yard). I have thought about adopting a cat periodically but would feel bad having an indoor only cat when my dog and I are in and out of the house all day, and would not have a cat that roams outside. I think the only way i could possibly have a cat would be if I had a place that I could build a nice outdoor cat enclosure.
    Edmonds just like everywhere else has been growing and sprawling which forces wildlife to alter their feeding areas and what they feed on. I see coyotes on walks with my dog sometimes right in the thick of Edmonds. They try to stay out of sight and out of the way of humans, but it gets harder all the time. Small dogs and cats outside on their own are just another animal that is potential food.
    If anyone has small animals that they love that spend any time outside I hope they will supervise or enclose the area they are in.

  7. I can see both points of view regarding indoor and indoor/outdoor cats. I’ve had both kinds. Our indoor/outdoor cat up and disappeared in mid-July. We really hope that she is safe and sound at a new home. When summer rolled around, she opted to become a strictly outdoor cat. She would nap out of sight at the base of one of the tall shrubs that lines our driveway. She would come home three times a day for meals. We decided to not force her to stay indoors at night. In hindsight, I wish we had. However, she turned 16 this summer and maybe age played a part in her disappearance.
    As for our current cat, she came into our lives in mid-October. She doesn’t mind being a strictly indoor cat. She is microchipped and we’ll try to get her to wear a collar. As for possibly letting her go outside, I would see about getting a catio built for her.

  8. Ultimately, under the law, pets are the responsibility of the people that own them. this requires the owners to provide basic care and to keep the animal(s) safe – as well as keeping the animals in their care from being a nuisance/risk to their community. This particular aspect of the laws being lightly enforced is however the part that seems to get minimal (if any) acknowledgment from the majority of the cat owning community. I certainly haven’t seen much (any?) discussion of the issue here.

    When you release your feline to “the great outdoors” based on your theory that it’s unfair to limit their drive and desire to do so is ridiculous. Is it equally unfair to keep your cat collared. keep it current with rabies & distemper shots, keeping things like toxic and hazardous foods out of their diet, simply because the cat’s wants would prefer otherwise? Of course not! That would be contrary to your role as a caretaker, and you’d be failing to prevent danger and your pet meeting head-on.

    If you replaced the word “cat” in these discussions with the name of any other domesticated/semi-domesticated animal, or even more ridiculously, “child”; there would be no debate. If you said, “I let my Rottweiler, Pit Bull, Burmese Python, Monkey, etc. travel alone and uncontrolled outdoors because it’s what the animal prefers”, you’d be labelled lazy, irresponsible and possibly out of your mind in a heartbeat. Yet for some reason cats are held to a different standard. It’s just silly.

    I get to enjoy “cat loving” neighbors who’s “well cared for” pets urinating and defecating all over my yard, gardens and walkways. I actually have one bedroom that I can never open windows in, due to the heinous stench of cat waste just outside it. The garden that used to be there was routinely dug up by cats following the scent and turning it into a litter box (a litter box their owners never have to clean, so convenient). Herb gardens are now no longer possible. Who wants to eat cat waste? When I brought it to the self described “responsible pet owner” I was told, “well they’re cats, whaddaya gonna do?”. When I suggested obeying the law and taking responsible for the animals in their family, a scowl and a door slam was the result.

    I’ve had cats all my life, but I would never consider it fair to impose MY responsibilities on my neighbors; and I would certainly not put my cat at risk with traffic, disease, damage from (and TO) native species and injury from fights and potential cruelty. All my felines have lived to ages between 17 and 22 years. We’ve never had unwanted kittens (ALWAYS spayed/neutered) and our cats led full comfortable lives surrounded by loving responsible owners. Don’t take my word for it, ask your vet, ask your local shelter, ask your local animal control department. Being responsible is YOUR JOB. You’re the human, you signed up for it by taking an animal into your family.

    Indoor cats live to love longer! Keep your cats indoors!

  9. Diane, You were not around when the original cat leash law was first established. That is likely true, but I believe you were around when it was subsequently abolished for a considerable length of time. And you did indeed involve yourself forcefully in the resurrection of the current cat leash law 2. I believe you led the charge to re-in-state it, did you not? The truth and only the truth please.

    Hopefully you are not now trying to conceal or deflect from the public your key actions and responsibility for the current cat leash law. Though I can understand why one would not like to be reminded as it is not exactly the most popular or logically reasonable local law we follow. A vote by the people would probably abolish it again and have us rejoin the majority of state citizens.
    Otherwise you are doing a pretty good job.

    1. I can not understand why one would think it is logical to exempt one particular species of domesticated animal to roam freely in a populated/urban area. To logically derive whether cats should be exempted from running at large, one must start with the purpose of the law. The purpose is “to provide for the reasonable regulation of animals as well as promote the public’s health, safety and welfare.” Do uncontrolled cats cause health/safety/welfare risk? Obviously, they do. Thus, regulating them in a manner that reduces these risk is both reasonable and logical.

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