One of the most often-heard arguments for letting cats roam outdoors unsupervised is that it’s natural. Also that it’s natural for cats to eat birds. Being outdoors is indeed natural for cats — after all, that’s where they originated — and hunting is a normal instinct in cats.
The problem with the ‘natural’ argument is that it doesn’t take into account the fact that we feed and care for our pet cats. That care and feeding of our cats constitutes interference in the logic of the food chain. It also means that there are a lot more cats than would occur without that care.
The reality is that letting our cats outside to roam and hunt disrupts the balance of nature. Domestic cats aren’t indigenous to North America, and we keep very large numbers of them as pets. They are also concentrated where people live, in our cities and towns.
Birds and wildlife don’t have the same advantages, and when we let our cats roam freely, we expose birds and wildlife to a very high density of cats.
That’s all about the balance of nature; what about what’s good for your cat?
Many owners feel that letting their cat do what’s natural — roaming and hunting — is integral to honouring the cat’s nature as an animal. But cats face unnatural dangers in our environment. Car accidents are a leading cause of death in cats, especially young cats. The density of pet cats means that they feel a lot more territorial pressure than they would if they were wild, leading to fights and an increase in injuries, infections and the transmission of diseases.
Pet cats roam and hunt for stimulation, not sustenance. There are plenty of alternative ways to meet that need without disrupting the balance of nature. You might like to explore Safe Happy Cat, our guide to keeping your cat sufficiently stimulated indoors, or Safe Outdoor Options, a resource detailing the options to let your cat out without the risks of roaming unsupervised. You might also find Tips for Transitioning and Dealing with Escape Artists useful.
Letting pet cats roam unsupervised outdoors harms the natural world, and isn’t good for the cats.