The great cat debate: indoor vs. outdoor

By Marc Morrone / Newsday

Published Mar 7, 2014 at 12:01AM

Earlier this month I helped out a reader whose backyard bird feeder was being frequented by a neighbor’s cats with disastrous results for the birds. The writer had asked her neighbor to please not allow the cats to roam, but for unknown reasons the neighbor chose to ignore the request. So the question to me was how to protect the birds from the cats under these circumstances.

My answer was to erect a fence of wire mesh in a circle on the ground around the feeder to stop the cats’ rush and allow the birds to get away. However, I was shocked by the volume of mail I got from readers who admonished me for not making an issue of the cats being allowed out of their home to wander outside.

The way I see it, the domestic cat has no place at all in our natural world. There was a time that it did, but that time is now over. My cats are all house cats, and I would never allow them outdoors unless they were on a harness and lead or in a screened-in porch or an enclosed gazebo. This is for the protection of the cats and the native wildlife that is vanishing every day. It has been scientifically recorded that the domestic cat — both feral ones and pampered pets that are allowed outdoors — has devastated native wildlife.

Plus, busy people do not need to be cleaning up their homes and gardens that are soiled by free-roaming cats.

It really is important to be respectful of neighbors’ properties.

Q: We got a Yorkie puppy two months ago. She is very smart and has taken to using the wee-wee pads. The problem is that she tends to wander off the wee-wee pad and “goes” on the floor right next to it. I realize that we really cannot scold her for this as she is doing the right thing in a way, but is there any way that we can help her to get her aim a bit better?

A: I offer three suggestions:

Try a larger wee-wee pad.

There are wee-wee pad frames that clamp the pad in place and have three high sides on the frame that surround the pad and help to keep the puppy in place.

Sometimes putting two or three drops of ammonia in the center of the pad helps to attract the puppy to it. The puppy thinks that there is some very strong urine in the center of the pad and wants to add her mark over it.