AWLA: Please Keep Cats Indoors

by ARLnow.com December 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm 4,510 59 Comments

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is advising cat owners to keep kitty indoors, due to the hazards presented by Arlington’s urban environment.

A recent case handled by the AWLA’s animal control unit is cited as a case in point. From AWLA:

12-10-11 — 2800 block N. 25th St.

A woman came into the shelter with a young gray cat she found near her home. The kitten, adopted from the League in June, had a microchip and the owner was located and called. There had been no lost report filed. The woman who came for the cat said she lost it over a week before and that it gets out because her other cat is indoor/outdoor. The League advises the public to keep their cats as indoor only due to the many dangers in an urban area.

  • fakeclarendondude

    I think we should start having the governor of Arlington adverstise to leave the people from Maryland and Reston indoors. They are ruining my flow of picking up da chicks at Witlows on Thurs – Sat brah!


  • Thes

    If we have more backyard hens, will that make it better for the outdoor cats?

    • Alicia-licious

      At an AWLA public meeting last year we heard about a woman in Courthouse-Clarendon that lets her adopted cat out 24/7 even though it kills something every day, because it antagonizes her other 3 cats. Neighbors complain, but apparently because the cat is black she fears no one else would adopt it, so she lets it kill over 300 other animals every year, including a small hawk and rabbits! This woman should not be allowed to adopt any animal ever again.

      • R-Jay

        This is a little hard to believe.

  • Wilbur

    Gee thanks AWLA. No wait, that story is stupid, proves nothing, and AWLA is typically hapless. Not all of Arlington is Urban. And one single story of some dumb woman losing track of her cat does not create grounds for a county wide advisory.

    • jack

      It says, “cited as a case in point.” I’m sure if you need more data proving cats do indeed get lost, you can go the the Animal Welfare League and check it out for yourself.

    • MomOfTeens

      Agree. And, I think it’s interesting that AWLA will NOT allow you to adopt a cat if you’re planning to let it out (and will literally come and check and take it away if they find you have let it out) – and yet, there’s another article cited about a “cat crisis” where they have 60 cats needing home. But God forbid you let it out…better to euthenize it…

      • Maria

        They don’t euthanize cats because they have too many. Don’t worry.

    • I’m not sure what your definition of “urban” is, but Arlington is most certainly considered and urban county.

  • Clarendude

    I saw a huge bird of prey perched in a tall tree in the backyard this afternoon. The thing was beautiful and looked like it could easily pluck a cat. That is a hazard, but not necessarily urban.

    • bemused bystander

      Unless it preys on hapless creatures wearing flip-flops.

    • Was outdoor, now no more

      A fox ate my neighbor’s cat just yesterday.

      • Juanita de Talmas

        Urban hazard indeed.

      • Elaine Benis

        A dingo ate my baby.

        • Garden City


    • drax

      Considering how many birds domestic cats kill, that would be funny to watch.

  • Grateful

    I thought one of the many conditions that the AWLA places upon people adopting cats from the shelter is that they keep them as “indoor cats” as opposed to “indoor/outdoor.” Other conditions are neutering/spaying by a certain age, prohibiting declawing, reporting them missing, etc. Has this changed?

    • Loocy

      That was exactly the point. She claimed that the lost kitty had been an indoor cat, but her other cat was allowed out so lost kitty would get out too.

      Probably nonsense, but that’s what she claimed. Anyway, I guess that’s why she didn’t notice that it was missing, she just thought it was gallavanting about with the outdoor kitties.

      • Fee Line

        How can your cat be missing for a week and you not know? They should relieve this woman of custody of this cat before it dies an untimely death.

      • Grateful

        I wonder if they returned the cat to the woman. I would hope that in the event the cat was returned, she at least received a strong reminder of the conditions of the adoption contract that she signed. If I was to put money on it, I would guess she did not get the cat back.

        • Always Right

          Are you Kidding? There is no room for more cats in these shelters. The fact she put a chip in the cat shows responsibility.

          • Humane

            The shelters put the chips in before they are adopted.

          • Tabs

            No they don’t.

          • ArlingtonWay

            Maybe the board could spend $25 million on a cAt shelter in courthouse.

    • MomOfTeens

      No, it hasn’t….all these restrictions ane then they wonder why they have 60 cats needing homes.

      • Not fond of AWLA

        No one is worthy. There are people who work there who will tell you that no cat is suitable because you work 9-6 M-F, or because you have an older cat…

        Look, I’ve had cats all my life. Most have lived to 17-20 years old, and they’ve all been indoor/outdoor cats. Happy, slim, and healthy indoor/outdoor cats–unlike the diabetic, overweight, and miserable indoor cats. Would you want to be locked up 24/7?

  • Clizzledizzle

    I capture and eat them. Fried cat paw makes for a delicious game snack. Yum, yum!

  • OX4

    How is that a case in point? There’s no urban danger in that example.

    In other news, the name of my new band is Urban Danger.


    • drax

      The name of my new band is FREDTERP.

  • novasteve

    Funny how apparently I’m the biggest jerk in Arlington according to the people here, but I don’t let my cats outdoors for their safety AND due to the contract I made with Homeward Trails when I adopted one of them.

    • drax

      That just makes you not the biggest jerk on the planet.

      • novasteve

        Yeah, you have tons of drunk drivers, animal abusers, people committing assault, bank robberies, etc in this county but I’m just barely not the worst jerk in the county because I am not a liberal and dislike the nanny state. Got it.

        • drax

          No, that’s not why.

          • Tabs

            +10 million. Imagine the smell–all that cat poo/pee PLUS nasty cigarette stink.

        • Always Right

          Wish you would run for our Board. We could sure use someone like you.

  • JimPB

    Outdoor cats can do great things for controlling the rodent population, at least in the areas the cats patrol. (Rodents can be controlled but they are not going to be eliminated.) So let the cats out to express their genetic propensity to hunt and kill little creatures of the wild.

    • Loocy

      Most of the outdoor cats I know have a strong preference for songbirds and baby bunnies, unfortunately.

    • LuvMyCats

      Unfortunately, the poisons used by apartment complexes and businesses in Arlington County have coumadin as one of their main ingredients. If a cat eats a poisoned mouse/rat, they are in danger of the same type of death a rodent would experience having eaten the poison.

      I agree with the AWLA. Arlington kitties belong indoors.

  • Loocy

    The AWLA story is pointless. The real reason to keep your cats indoors is that cats are much safer, healthier, and attached to their families when kept indoors. Indoor cats live much longer lives than outdoor cats. I don’t get what the AWLA story is supposed to prove, but it completely misses the point.

    • Kirk

      Well, people would probably be safer, healthier and more attached to their families when kept indoors too, but we wouldn’t dream of doing that. A cat’s natural habitat is outdoors.

      As for longevity, would you rather live 80 years completely indoors (basically in a jail cell) or 65 years outdoors/indoors? The cat feels the same way.

  • Garden City

    I wish outdoor cats were bigger so they could eat all the squirrels.

    • ArlingTony

      Can we get DARPA to work on that? Once they got a taste of brown flip-flop though…

    • Justin Russo

      I have a very large male cat that can catch squirrels, but once he’s caught them he doesn’t know what to do with them, so he just let’s them go.

  • LLL

    I agree that living outside can present more dangers to kitties than staying inside. On the other hand, cats are predatory animals…their native turf is the great outdoors. To me, this is a quality of life issue. Should you keep your cat fat and bored inside or let your cat out occasionally to run and explore? I find it interesting that in Germany the condition for adopting a cat is that you ARE able to provide it some outdoor time (a quality of life issue).

  • YTK

    Humans are alot more predatory than cats– and pose one of the greatest dangers to cats. So are some dogs– ever wonder about what some of the breeds were bred for? Hunting small animals– cats fit that description. The “great” outdoors is about as safe for cats as it would be for your 2 yr old baby who loves to crawl and explore. Keep the cats home– Get a Cat Fence-In system or make a secure fenced in area (with a locked entrance that no one can vault over) where your cats can roam and play and relax in the sun, that is safe from all predators– human, bird and other animals – -but still, WATCH OVER THEM and then bring them back in . I’ve had indoor cats for more than 20 years– I built a play area ouside for them that is birdproof and aimal/human-proof. The cats have their fun and then come in.

  • Kirk

    “The “great” outdoors is about as safe for cats as it would be for your 2 yr old baby who loves to crawl and explore.”

    That’s funny, I’ve had outdoor cats for probably 30 years of my life and they’ve never had any problem.

    • Lou

      I grew up in 22207 and our cats were always outdoor cats. I only had two, because they lived so long. First cat lived 18 years. No problems with being outdoors, sometimes he would be gone more than a day before showing up again. Cats are amazingly resourceful and naturally should be unrestrained.

      I have relatives in PA. Up there, outdoor cat means outdoors all the time. They never come in. Through the winter, they just live in the garage or shed.

    • Maria

      Same, though ours were “indoor/outdoor” cats, and we lived in a rural area, but we never had any issues with the cats being outside. That’s not to say that nothing COULD happen, but that’s like saying, “do NOT drive a car around because you COULD have a fatal accident!!!”

  • Arlington Cat


    The AWL, like usual, is being disengenuious with the facts, and the AWL has caused a lot to cats and to cat’s families pain by releasing this type of nonsense in the past.

    I am looking at you, Fairlington Arbor.

    • Arlington Voter

      ALERT your self. AWL has made no claims about the legality of outdoor cats. Their summary of the laws is here: http://www.awla.org/local-animal-laws.shtml

      Outdoor cats are a BAD IDEA. They are responsible for the death of hundreds of millions of songbirds every year, not to mention squirrels, chipmunks, and other wildlife. I cannot keep a bird feeder but of the neighbor’s cursed cats unless I want to clean up bird carcasses every day.

      Cats, contrary to belief, are NOT better off outdoors:

      “Life for outdoor cats is risky. They can get hit by cars; attacked by dogs, other cats, coyotes or wildlife; contract fatal diseases, such as rabies, feline distemper, or feline immunodeficiency virus; get lost, stolen, or poisoned; or suffer during severe weather conditions. Outdoor cats lead considerably shorter lives on average than cats kept exclusively indoors.”


      Keep your blessed cat INDOORS.

      • Maria

        Yes, and most of those things can happen to you too, if you go outside, but you do sometimes… right?

    • q

      If you don’t like it you should move away. Oh wait . . .

  • Arlington Cat

    This comment is akin to the old “America, love it or leave it,” or Stalin’s “Dissent equals disloyalty.” They were stupid then, and your contemporary redress is just as stupid and shortsighted now.

    Perhaps before you enter a debate, you should ponder what a real American said, …”Love your country always, criticize the government when needed.”
    Samuel Clemens

  • Being a cat that happens to be outdoors is not a crime in Arlington County

    “AWL has made no claims about the legality of outdoor cats.”
    Correct; AWLA knowingly misinforms the public by presenting their opinion that cats need to be indoor cats only. The AWLA does not inform the public of the law; they inform the public of their opinion, which contradicts the law.

    AWLA also encourages people to call AWLA to pick up cats they find outdoors. Let me be clear, the AWLA kidnaps healthy tame spayed or neutered cats without fleas and hold those cats for ransom until the owners go to the AWLA, pick up their cat, and pay the AWLA for the privilege of getting their cat back. Remember, there is no law in Arlington County concerning cats being outdoors, so the AWLA is enforcing their recommendation, not enforcing the law. Even if there are many clues that the cat is domesticated, well cared for, tame, and from a caring home, the AWLA will still kidnap these cats, cage them, and hold them from their family until the AWLA gets monetarily compensated from the cat’s family. It is most likely a profit center for them. So, the AWLA misinform the public, and profit from the public taking action on that misinformation. Nice.

    AWLA is comfortable misinforming the public. Please consider this misinformation and the AWLA’s practice of kidnapping healthy tame domestic cats and holding those cats for ransom before giving any donation to AWLA.

  • AWLA are monsters

    No other jurisdiction around here imprisons cats and holds them for monetary benefit like those jerks at the AWLA. Fairfax and Alexandria’s policy is to pick up a cat if called, make sure it is fixed, and return it to where they picked it up.

    AWLA policy is contradictory to the laws in Arlington. They enforce their opinions, not the laws in Arlington County.


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