Keep Cats Indoors

Trap, Neuter, and Release: Bad for Cats, Disaster for Birds

by American Bird Conservancy


There are over 77 million pet cats nationwide, of which about 43 million spend some time outside. An outdoor cat risks death by predation (Great horned owls, coyotes, foxes, dogs), and diseases such as rabies, feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, accidental collision with automobiles, poisons, and traps. In addition, domestic cats will hunt and kill, even if well fed. A Smithsonian/US Fish and Wildlife Service study(1) estimated that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.3 to 4.0 billion birds and 6.3 to 22.3 billion mammals annually.

(1) Loss, Scott R. , Tom Will and Peter P. Marra. The Impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States. Nature Communications: Jan. 29, 2013.

Denver Audubon’s Policy on Outdoor Cats:

ASGD urges cat owners to keep all cats indoors, unless on harness and leash or in a safe enclosed outdoor structure.

  • “Managed” outdoor cat colonies and Trap-Neuter-Release programs are opposed unless accompanied by an intensive adoption program, monitoring of feral cat colonies, public education on the need to keep cats indoors, and public involvement in reducing/eliminating cat colonies.
  • ASGD advocates that state and federal wildlife agencies, public health organizations, local governments, animal organizations, and the public identify outdoor cat colonies and promote programs that include humane capture and ultimately, adoption.
  • With consistent effort and commitment from such a coalition, the number of feral cats can be reduced, along with the threat to native wildlife.

Read the complete ASGD Policy on Free Roaming Cats.

If you have a neighbor with an outdoor cat:

Denver Audubon recommends talking face to face with the cat’s owner as a first step. Suggest the following pdf guides to assist cat owners in keeping indoor cats happy.

When you read a NextDoor or Facebook post about an outside cat gone missing, use the opportunity to empathize with their loss, suggest they make that cat an indoor cat once found, and that loved cats are safer inside and live longer lives. Make YOUR next adopted cat an INSIDE cat.