June 18, 2010

Should cats be on leashes outside?

That's the yes/no question posed by USA Today. "No" is winning (though not by a lot), in part, I think because people think a cat on a leash is ridiculous or sad. It's a misinterpretation of the question, which should be understood to ask whether a cat should be on a leash if it is to be allowed outside at all. So "Yes" includes the idea that cats should indoors (or on the catio).

42 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Whether to leash a cat outside will soon be a moot point. As Obama's socialist dream starts to do its work on the economy, people will have to stop wasting their money on cat food. A Cat Police Corps will be needed to end such nonsense.

edutcher said...

The only thing dumber than cat harnesses (the only reason I know they exist we need them for Sherlock 'cause he's so small) is cat leashes.

A cat stalks and skulks, it doesn't go barreling down the street like some labradoodle.

Irene said...

Cats who roam neighborhoods bite people. We live in an area where many people allow their cats to wander leashless. If I see an unfamiliar cat in the flowerbed, I head the other way.

Cats don't like to "walk" on leashes.

Perhaps it's a cultural thing. Do people walk cats on leashes in other countries? I imagine that it might be common in a densely populated place like Japan. Japan also is a place where many people anthropomorphize their pets. (Hello Kitty.)

People certainly walk *toddlers* on leashes and harnesses in Germany and many Eastern European countries. That practice is not welcomed in our culture. My Mother tethered my toddler brother to a leash when the family emigrated to Brooklyn, and she recalls that the leash saved him at least once from running in front of a bus.

New Yorkers thought it was barbarian. Without the leash, my Mother would have become untethered.

Pastafarian said...

Irene, I don't know where you live, but I've never seen a housecat become aggressive and bite someone -- unless a stranger was trying to touch it.

Do they leap up and go for your throat?

And why would you mind a cat in your flowerbed? He's either hunting vermin or burying fertilizer.

You sound like an antifelite to me, Irene. A rabid antifelite.

Re. the topic of the post: No, of course cats shouldn't be on leashes. I've never seen a cat respond to a leash in any way but by going crazy and becoming a dervish of claws. But we shouldn't allow cats outdoors too much, because they kill all the songbirds.

grandrants said...

Actually, many cats can be trained to walk on harness and leash, and they do enjoy it. It's a safe way for a cat to be outdoors and monitored--and it's cheaper than a catio.

Little itty bitty kitties probably don't enjoy it as much as the larger breeds such as the Maine Coon and the Ragdoll, who are bigger than many small dogs, and in fact look rather dignified on lead. My 18-pound Ragdoll loves his harness.

But if you choose not to install a catio or do leash training, your cat should NOT be going outdoors at all.

Irene said...

Pastafarian, the cats in my flowerbeds kill birds. Bluebirds.

I can't say that am a rabid (haha) antifeline, but I do prefer dogs.

I have been bitten by a cat, and it's no fun. It was my fault, however. I was engaging in the outstreched-palm-here-kitty-kitty, and chomp.

That said, there is a very friendly orange tabby that hangs around our property often in the summer. That one, I can pet.

Joan said...

A few years ago, my nephew bought a leash and collar so he could walk his cat. My kids thought it was hysterical. It didn't work out well.

Some cats can be trained to a leash, but most think of collars as fun toys to wiggle out of.

Our cats are indoor cats. Too much risk of being eaten by a coyote or a hawk, not to mention being pancaked by a passing car, for us to feel comfortable with letting them outside. Plus our deal Alice is deaf as a stone, she wouldn't stand a chance out there.

ITA that cats should be kept indoors or allowed outside under controlled circumstances, unless you live on a farm or well outside of the city or 'burbs. We love our cats but the feral cats in our neighborhood are noisy and disruptive, poop in all the kids' sandboxes, and are generally a nuisance no matter how cute they are. They eat not only the birds (bad) but also the lizards, which is even worse because the lizards keep the insect population down.

Jennifer said...

My stepgrandmother used to walk her cat. On a leash. In her backyard.

Until the day that someone forgot to lock up the dog, and he went for the kill. To save the cat, my granma (picture a tiny little old filipino lady in a housedress) started swinging the leash around like a lasso, cat gurgling and frantically running in mid air. The dog was jumping up at the cat every time its revolution brought it over his head, granma was screaming, everyone came running.

First, my stepdad tried turning the hose on the dog. That didn't faze him but soaked the rest of us. Then, we were all screaming. Finally, my uncle burst forward and with a solid uppercut to the dog's jaw, brought the whole scene to an end.

Almost worth putting up with outside cats if you get that kind of show.

Sky Lawyer said...

Weird that this is posted on one of my favorite blogs this morning. Last night I went for a run and came upon two dogs running loose playing under a sprinkler in someone's front yard. They seemed like harmless mutts, with maybe a little bit of pit bull thrown in but nothing to be alarmed about.

Well about 500 yards later, I turned a corner and came upon a group of people standing over an orange cat that had apparently been mauled half to death by one (or both) of the dogs who I had just passed. A vet was there ready to send the cat to the Great Litter Box in the Sky. I stopped, registered appropriate regret, then kept running. I don't like watching any living thing die.

So I would vote "yes" on cat leashes, if I were a cat owner. Which I'm not. I like dogs. Or more precisely, I like dogs that don't maul cats.

Sorry to be morbid, but I thought I had a specific and possibly helpful addition to the debate.

Class factotum said...

Sky lawyer, the only way I could get my husband to agree to let our cats outside was if they were on a leash. He was worried they would be eaten by pit bulls. Of which we have none in this neighborhood. But considering I have seen many cats hit by cars, it's not such a bad idea.

We put the cats in a harness with a leash and attach it to the clothesline. They get to be outside and pretend that they are mighty jungle hunter panthers in the great Milwaukee suburban wilderness; we don't have to worry about their roaming the neighborhood.

Flexo said...

If there is a chance that the cat might run away otherwise, the use of a leash is appropriate.

We had a cat run away and disappear when we took the cat somewhere away from home.

Drew W said...

There are quite a few good reasons to keep a housecat in the house, not the least being that animals pick up all kinds of parasites and diseases while romping about in nature. Dog-owning friends of mine have to take their pet repeatedly to the vet to be checked for, or remedied of, one thing or another. My cat’s been to the vet once in six years, and that was only after she’d come home with something after escaping for a night on the town.

Besides, it would be very difficult to put my Lucy on a leash.

traditionalguy said...

Cats are territorial and will not roam from a home. When relocated they spend days in terror exploring the new location until it is all mapped out in their feline minds. The leash may work in your yard, but a cat will never enjoy a walk around the neighborhood or to the park.

Blue@9 said...

Until the day that someone forgot to lock up the dog, and he went for the kill. To save the cat, my granma (picture a tiny little old filipino lady in a housedress) started swinging the leash around like a lasso, cat gurgling and frantically running in mid air. The dog was jumping up at the cat every time its revolution brought it over his head, granma was screaming, everyone came running.

First, my stepdad tried turning the hose on the dog. That didn't faze him but soaked the rest of us. Then, we were all screaming. Finally, my uncle burst forward and with a solid uppercut to the dog's jaw, brought the whole scene to an end.


I would pay to see a video of that.

Awesome said...

Cats should be put to death outside. Most of the songbirds in my neighborhood have disappeard due to the stray cats the eccentric lesbian neighbor likes to feed. I hate cats worse than soccer.

froggyprager said...

I saw 2 cats with mice in their mouths outside in Madison in the last two days. One scared me half to death in the dark as we crossed paths. Keep them inside or on leash.

Fred4Pres said...

Dogs say: Hell yes!

Pastafarian said...

Irene -- cats are very perceptive creatures. That cat that bit you probably sensed that you preferred dogs.

Yes, that's right -- in other words, you had it coming.

Jennifer -- good story. It reminds me of the Goat-head of the Year Awards. Our family would get together and present an award to the family member who had most thoroughly humiliated themselves in the previous year with some wacky misadventure like your grandmother's.

If the cat had been on fire, and your grandmother had released the flaming cat resulting in a hammer-throw trajectory straight into a stray box of fireworks, while losing her balance and falling ass-over-teakettle into an open pit of pig shit...and had all this been caught on camera and played on the local media...then she might have won a "Ghoty".

Depends on the year, and how stiff the competition was.

edutcher said...

I have to take Irene's part on this, Pasta. Cats can get nasty unexpectedly. My aunt had one with a bad temper and worse disposition. We had something of an understanding, but I always kept an eye on her (the cat, not my aunt :)).

PS You can be a cat as well as a dog person, but schizophrenia may come easily.

Ann Althouse said...

I was bitten by my neighbors' cat, which roamed the neighborhood and would sprawl in my path as if it would just love to be petted. I'd pet it and it would act like it was well-pleased, then suddenly flip and try to bite me.

Pastafarian said...

Clearly, Althouse, that cat knew that you'd someday vote for Obama (or that you already had).

As has been discussed in another thread, cats are conservative Republicans. (Pro-hunting, meat-eaters, independent).

In other words: You, too, had it coming.

Pastafarian said...

I love Mead's comment on that old thread, by the way:

"Is the cat being observed for signs of rabies?"

That's classic Mead right there. He should comment more.

Pastafarian said...

Leave it to Mead -- implying that the cat might contract rabies by biting you.

That is what he meant, right?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Cats should be put to death outside. Most of the songbirds in my neighborhood have disappeard due to the stray cats

Well, we have the opposite problem. The birds gang up and harrass the living crap out of my cat. We can tell where she is on the property because of the cawing, chirping and flock of birds dive bombing. The only place safe is under the deck or under a vehicle.

Since we live in the country our cat is outside daytime, but I bring her in at night...always.

Most of the stray cats in my neighborhood have disappeared as snacks for coyotes, foxes and bobcats.

Re: eating the birds. That's nature. Those that survive live to be stronger and learn to beat up on the cat.

Same thing goes for the cats. Learn to be smarter, quicker than the coyote.

Irene said...

Pastafarian, "Yes, that's right -- in other words, you had it coming."

That's so true . . . not just in the context of cats.

My cat bite experience was not different from Althouse's. The cat had the "come hither human" look on its face.

BTW, I think Madison cats are more likely to bite McCain voters.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The cat had the "come hither human" look on its face.


LOL and you fell for it.

Cat emoting to other cat buddies later: "Man you should have seen it. There I was purring and with my sweetest doncha wanna pet me look, showing off all the soft fluffy fur on my belly........Then ......she bent down and WHAM all four feet at once wrapped around her arm!!. HA AHA HA. What a sucker. They are so easy. Watch me run out and trip this one down the stairs........ Meow"

howzerdo said...

One of my cats, Edna passed away in December (at age 17 plus). She was a Main Coon Cat, very wonderful. She was a young adult stray when a friend convinced me to take her in, and Edna really made me appreciate cats. (I have never been what some call a "cat" person - I prefer dogs, although I do like cats.)

She was very sweet, but she was used to being outside, and pestered me until I let her go out with the dogs. I never left her out for hours and hours, or at night, in bad weather or when I wasn't home, and she came when called. She didn't stray too far from the yard or go in the road, and the only thing she hunted were mice (in the house).

Three years ago I took a stray kitten home that I found in a parking lot. He's a typical domestic shorthair, not a regal cat like Edna, and he hardly grew - still is tiny. I don't like free-roaming cats (or dogs), believe it is risky for the pets and bad for wildlife. I knew my good experience with Edna being indoor/outdoor was rare, and that he was young enough to mold into an indoor cat, but at the same time I dislike the idea of keeping a pet captive in the house all the time, seems unnatural.

So I immediately got him a little leash and collar. I don't walk him, but I take him out with me and the dogs in the yard when I work in the garden, water flowers, weed whack, and BBQ. He loves it, "asks" to go outside with the dogs, comes running when he sees me get his leash, and doesn't expect more freedom. He lays in the grass, climbs in a lawn chair, sniffs the catnip I am growing for him, plays with small stones. I suspect he would be afraid if he was off the leash.

PatCA said...

Maybe we should leash yard owners who expect their dirt to remain clean instead.

Build a fence if you don't want animals in your yard!

Joe said...

No, but people should be allowed to shoot them. Same with dogs.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

No, but people should be allowed to shoot them. Same with dogs.

You don't need to shoot the poor things, their owners maybe should be bitch slapped for letting them run unrestrained. Pets are just like kids. They will be as bad as their parents/owners let them be.

You can discourage dogs from being in your yard or getting into your garbage this way: Take some not so good meat, dose it liberally with cayenne pepper or habenero pepper juice. Dog eats meat.....in a few seconds..."aye yi yi yi". Dog runs away in temporary and harmless pain. Really stupid dogs may take more than one time. Racoons don't care so much for it either.

Cats...harder to discourage because night time is when they are really problematic. However, during the day, I find a hose with a sprayer attached or especially one of those gigantic pressurized squirt gun/cannons are pretty good. Also....pretty much fun.

Works on those annoying blue jays as well.

Deborah said...

Why the dog left home.

Deborah said...

I don't think cats are generally aggressive unless they feel threatened. My cats run and hide whenever strangers come around.

I LOVE that catio idea.

Trooper York said...

Personally I prefer unrestrained pussy. So to speak.

HDHouse said...

I think it would quickly reduce to a matter of who was walking whom.

Deborah said...

DBQ: You can discourage dogs from being in your yard or getting into your garbage this way: Take some not so good meat, dose it liberally with cayenne pepper or habenero pepper juice.

You are so right. My father used to do that.

Deborah said...

The Savannah Cat doesn't seem to mind the leash.

Trooper York said...

Obviously the people in Wisconsin are really out of date.

In New York we have had this under control since the early sixties!

Maximillian Prime said...

The very idea of leashing a cat is absurb. We were born to freedom and liberty and unlike dog we keep our o-ring clean.

Cheryl said...

I can't imagine anyone who ever actually lived with cats thinking putting them on a leash to walk was a good (or even doable) idea. And I agree with Pastafarian re. the fact that a cat is unlikely to attack a person or destroy anything. And if they poop in your flowerbed, they have the decency to bury it.

Pat Moffitt said...

We don't allow cock fights. We don't allow dog fights. Why are cat and blue bird fights OK? They're not even in the same weight class!

Omaha1 said...

I used to believe that all cats could and should be kept inside all of the time. Then in 2008 I got Toto, a six-week-old kitten, from a farm. We had him neutered as soon as possible and tried to raise him as an indoor cat.

However, from a young age he was always trying to get outside. We had to watch him every time we opened the door to let the dogs out. I tried walking him in the yard on a leash & harness. He seemed to like that but still tried to escape at every opportunity. Then, even though he was neutered, he began urinating on our belongings all around the house. We finally realized that he was never going to be happy living indoors all the time, and began letting him out to roam at will.

Most of our neighbors know and like him, and he has special routines with a few of them where he greets them when they come home from work. He has never bitten or scratched anyone (except me, of course, while trying to medicate him or clip his claws). He once weathered a big snow storm by staying under a shed for three days. We think he got confused in the deep snow & couldn't figure out where he was so he just found a sheltered spot & hid there.

He may end up being killed by a car, dog, or another cat, but I think a shortened, happy life would be preferable to him than being confined all the time. Some cats just aren't made to live indoors.

He does bring home "gifts" of dead bunnies, mice, and baby birds. I used to just throw these out the back door but the dogs kept bringing them back in the house to play with, so now I wrap them in grocery bags & put them in the trash instead. I don't like it that he kills birds but we really don't need any more rabbits or mice in our neighborhood, so killing these is kind of a public service.

I was once bitten by a cat that attacked me for no apparent reason. It turns out the cat had kittens. Although I was nowhere the kittens the cat had become very territorial and aggressive towards people just walking by its house.

Dogwood said...

"Should cats be on leashes outside?"

How else are you going to hang them from trees?