Cat Sanctuary

The outdoors is a deadly place for cats

RAPS’ policy is strict: We adopt cats only to households who commit to keeping them indoors – or who have a catio or use a leash and harness.

There is no situation where life is safe for an outdoor cat. When RAPS adopts cats to forever homes, we have a strict policy of ensuring that the cat is either an indoor-only pet or the people train it to walk on a harness and leash or they build a “catio” so the animal can safely enjoy the outdoors.

People who live in remote locations might think their cat is safe outside because they are far from any public roads. But such areas are especially fraught because predators can be especially prevalent in rural areas, including coyotes, raccoons and birds of prey.

Deelia came to RAPS to be treated after being shot.

No matter where the cat lives, the chances of contracting infections, transmissible diseases like FIV or FeLV, or getting injuries and infections from interactions and fights make the outdoors a very unsafe place for a cat. Also, people have been known to put out poison to deter animals from coming into their gardens. As well, in winter, cats and other pets can drink from puddles with poisonous antifreeze. At any time of year, animals can easily get into garbage and other sources of potentially sickening or deadly substances.

“RAPS has a strict policy of adopters committing to keeping an animal safe,” says Shena Novotny, manager of the RAPS Cat Sanctuary. “In general, that means the cat remains an indoor cat. The only exceptions are if the cat is with their person, on a leash with a safe, appropriately fitting harness, or they are in a safe, secure ‘catio,” which allows them to enjoy the fresh air without risk of them getting out or a predator getting in. These are hard-and fast rules for us. It is a literally matter of life and death.”

Kingsley is just one example – and thankfully his story has a happy ending.

Kingsley had been hit by a car.

“Kingsley came to us after being hit by a car,” says Shena. “The chances of a cat surviving being hit by a car are not good. So he is a bit of a miracle. But so many cats do not have a happy ending and that leaves families heartbroken and the cats needlessly killed or severely injured.”


Cats can live happy, full lives indoors, Shena adds. In addition to the dangers faced by outdoor cats, cats also present dangers to others. Cats are predatory themselves and free-roaming domestic cats upset the balance of nature, destroying ecosystems by killing billions of birds and small mammals annually. In fact, one report says they account for the extinction of 63 species.

“Some people think that is just part of the circle of life,” Shena says. “It’s not. Domestic cats are not indigenous. They are an invasive species and they upset the ecosystems when they roam freely.”

She adds: “There is no safe way for a cat to roam freely. If you love your cat, you must keep it indoors or let it outdoors only under these very specific conditions.”