You wouldn't think of allowing your dog to wander freely around the neighborhood, but millions of cats come and go as they please. I doubt a single animal welfare group or shelter in America today would argue with Stephen Zawistowski, executive vice president and science advisor at the ASPCA in New York City, when he says: "For their own benefit and for the benefit of the communities where they live, owned cats should not be allowed to roam freely."
Forty years ago, most pet cats were allowed to wander freely outdoors.
"Big cities have forced us to change our views," says Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, anthropologist and author of "Tribe of the Tiger."
Thomas, who lives in rural New Hampshire, proudly allows her cats to call their own shots — indoors or outside.
"Choice is very important," she says. "There is no busy road nearby, and there are no other cats. I feel cats should control their own destiny, even if there is some risk; live by the sword die by the sword."