Sunday 1 June 2014

Why 80% of Britons Let Their Cats Go Outside

It is well known that in Britain nearly everyone lets their cat go outside unsupervised.  Nearly all the cats in the UK are indoor/outdoor cats.  By contrast, in the USA about half the cats are indoor/outdoor cats.

Perhaps the main reason why many more cats in America of full-time indoors is because there are more predators in America who would kill a cat.  But it goes beyond that and because there are so many indoor cats in America it is one reason why there is declawing in America because the argument goes that cats don't need their claws if they're indoors all the time.

Using that argument, some Americans might believe that British people don't declaw their cats because they let their cats go outside unsupervised and therefore they realise that they need their claws to defend themselves.  This is incorrect.

Cat on UK road. I don't like to see this because I have experienced cats being killed on roads.

The reason why British people let their cats go outdoors and why nearly all cats in the UK are indoor/outdoor cats is because British cat owners want their cats to live as natural a life as possible and they are prepared to let their cats take the risk of being injured.  The biggest risk of being injured in the UK is by a vehicle on the roads.

In the UK, many people don't know what declawing is because they had never heard about it and it does not enter their minds.  It is not part of the equation.  It's not part of cat caretaking in the UK. Therefore, the declawing of cats has no impact whatsoever on decision-making about any aspect of cat ownership in the UK.

It could be argued that many British people are too sloppy and laissez-faire about letting their cats go outside.  I could accept that argument because I believe that if cats in Britain are allowed to go outside they should be supervised or the area where the cat lives should be safe from potential road traffic accidents.  That is not always the case.

Whereas a British person might criticise an American person for keeping her cat inside all the time, an American person could be justified in criticising a British person for letting her cat go outside unsupervised where it might be unsafe to do so because a road traffic nearby. Sometimes, a middle ground is probably the best balance between safety and a natural life.

Some Brits have never experienced the loss of a cat on the roads. If they did they would not be so relaxed about letting their cats roam.

There may come a time in Britain when more people follow the American lead and keep their cats inside full-time as the population of the UK increases resulting in more traffic and therefore more risk of injury for a cat.

If you are a Brit you may have a different viewpoint. If so please leave a comment.


  1. I'm a Brit and I think it cruel to keep cats indoors all the time. They are natural predators and those instincts are inborn, if indoor cats get the chance to go outside they take it because it is in their nature to explore. De-clawing them is a horrible practice, why subject a poor cat to unnecessary surgery? It isn't "caretaking" it is mutilation. You may not like to see a cat on a road, but I don't like to see a cat imprisoned indoors. And I thought America was the "land of the free", it just doesn't apply to cats eh? If you live somewhere where a cat doesn't at least have a chance to explore in relative safety, then you should get a suitable pet, like a hamster or a goldfish...

    1. I can't confine my cat, either. I let him roam outside but I selected a home that was equally suitable for him and me. It is as safe as I can get it for a cat outside.

  2. Oh, and my Mum's cat was run over. He lived in the middle of nowhere and could have roamed for miles without crossing a road. He was about 12, not a bad age for a cat I don't think. He may have lived a few more years if he was locked in all day, but his quality of life wouldn't have been anything like what it was having his freedom.

    1. You summarise the benefit and detriment of being an outdoor cat. Thanks for commenting.

    2. Depends, Lyme disease and other parasites, fights with other cats, or other animals (far more abundant in the US, that is true) have made it become the preferred thing to keep cats indoors full time in the US. I've known indoor/outdoor cats in the US who also ended up lost for ages, trapped in construction sites or bitten by rats. Tho if they are strictly indoor they require a lot more attention and stimulation, and probably another pet for company.

    3. Thanks Lucy. I agree with you. I don't believe in general enough attention is given to full-time indoor cats to make their lives interesting.

  3. When I was eight, we purchased a lilac point Siamese kitten. He was wonderful, he was allowed outside, and took to it immediately. His favourite habit was bringing in twelve foot branches of the silver birch tree in through the cat flap. Sadly he died at 9 months after being run over in our cul-de-sac.

    My view however, on whether they should go outside or not didn't change as a consequence. It's important to suffer loss as a child, and I look at the risks, and make the assessment I'd rather my cat was happy above all else.

    Milo, our newest cat, an eleven month old, is vaccinated, neutered and in love with the outside. He plays, basks in sunshine, hunts, gets on with some of the other cats, and leaps from trees. I love how much he loves it, and the same goes with many pet owners in Britain.

    Is it a risk? Possibly.

    But the US alternatives of cosseted cats with no claws (a horrible barbaric practice) who people stick outfits on at Halloween is sickening by comparison.

    1. Thanks for sharing. You have pretty well summed up the reason why Brits like their cats to go outside. It is a good argument. I prefer the compromise: a really nice large enclosure containing and enriched environment.


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