Yes, but be aware of the dangers

by S. O'Hara
(Austin, Texas)

Winter cats

Winter cats

My husband and I adopted a stray cat. She was starving so we started to feed her and next thing you know she was our cat. Of course we had her spayed, got her shots, etc. She's the best little cat. She's very attached to us and incredibly sweet. We totally love her.

We do let her outside. When she was younger, we would take her for walks every day. Now that she is older she only wants to walk every once in a while (she's turning 20 this year, we think - we are not sure of her exact age but the vet who saw her when we adopted her thought she was about 3 years old).

However, she goes out every day for short periods. She has a curfew - we don't let her out after dark and we also don't let her out if one of us isn't home to hear her if she gets in trouble.

The reason we let her out - she was a stray when we got her and was used to being outside. When we took her for walks we noticed she would always look both ways before crossing a road. We live in the suburbs in a quiet neighborhood with little traffic and not much danger from wild animals.

All that being said, I would not allow a cat outside unsupervised if he or she was of a breed that is more passive, or if we lived in an urban area with a lot of traffic or a rural one with coyotes, etc. However, I think in those cases leash training a cat and going for walks or setting up an outdoor enclosure would be good things to do since I think cats will be happier and healthier if they have a chance to interact with the outdoors.

I am an artist in Austin and many of my paintings feature cats. If you are interested, you can check out my etsy shop at AustinLace.

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