Opinion: Your (sterilized) indoor-outdoor cat is not a menace to the animal kingdom

Feline out for a stroll
A stray cat crosses a road outside of a vacant apartment building in Venice, Calif. in 2012.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Warning of the “crisis” of outdoor cats, Peter Marra and Chris Santella ask, with obvious exasperation, when will people learn to treat cats like dogs? (“When will people learn to treat cats like dogs?” Opinion, Sept. 30)

In fact, the international community has been doing so for some time, implementing large-scale sterilization and vaccination programs to address the free-roaming-dog issue in places such as China and India. Yet these are exactly the kinds of program Marra and Santella oppose. 

Like so many unpopular wars, the “cat wars” are a campaign largely of misinformation (inflated wildlife impacts), demonization (outdoor cats portrayed as “unrelenting killers and caldrons of disease”), and false empathy. Meanwhile, the potential costs and unintended consequences are ignored. 

And just like the unpopular wars, this one will have no winners. 


Peter J. Wolf, Kanab, Utah

The writer is a research analyst at Best Friends Animal Society.


To the editor: Kudos to Marra and Santella for their refreshingly informed piece about cats. 


Reading the often unspeakable thought expressed that “we also need to discontinue the practice of trap, neuter and release for unowned cats” gives me hope that we can mitigate the increasing plague of feral cat colonies. Hopefully, the well-meaning cat lovers with their bottomless bags of cat food who are creating nightmares for the innocent animals and neighborhood residents alike will heed the findings of scientists who clearly show the downsides of trap, neuter and release programs. 

Cats, like dogs, should be licensed, leashed and confined by their owners and not just sterilized. Dog owners and non-dog owners alike have understood this for decades. 

Sylvia Lewis Gunning, Thousand Oaks


To the editor: The claim that domestic and feral cats kill 1.3 billion birds yearly in the U.S. alone is guesswork. According to Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle, the study authors “have thrown out a provocative number for cat predation totals.… They admit the study has many deficiencies.” 

Furthermore, the op-ed authors lament cats killing birds while failing to mention the chillier words rats and rodents. As owner of three rescued, healthy, licensed, collared, vaccinated, microchipped, suburban indoor-outdoor cats, I give lavish praise each time one of our alert cats dispatches yet another rat or mouse from the unkempt property over the fence, but they get cold disapproval and silence for birds. 

My last four cats lived coyote and car-accident free to 17 and 18. So either this urban neighborhood is safe or the cats have common sense, or both. 

In Britain, most cats are indoor-outdoor animals. This call for confining cats indoors as well as for declawing them is a particularly American obsession.


Laurie Galvan, Long Beach


To the editor: Marra and Santella are right: It is unfair and unsafe for cats to allow them to roam outdoors unsupervised. In places where coyotes roam, it’s madness to send 15-pound felines out to face off against them. 

Outdoor cats are also exposed to contagious diseases, parasites, stray dogs and inattentive drivers. They are often poisoned and shot by people who dislike it when they dig in their gardens, climb on their cars, knock over the trash cans and get into noisy fights in the wee hours.

Applying the same licensing rules to cats as we apply to dogs would protect cats and wildlife and make communities safer. This is long overdue.

David Frisk, Encinitas

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