Cats - indoor outdoor or both in cohousing
From: Susan Coberly (
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2020 11:52:54 -0700 (PDT)
Hi, Susan from LaQuerencia aka Fresno Cohousing (Fresno CA, USA), with a
question and asking for comments / ideas about outdoor or indoor / outdoor
cats in cohousing community.

About a year prior to move-in (move-in commenced Sept 2008) the
then-members of the forming body adopted a Pet Policy.  The policy says
owners are, among other things, responsible for cleaning up after their
pets. We skated on the idea of indoor-only cats because though some of us
had existing cats which were indoor-only, others had existing indoor /
outdoor cats. There has been some turnover in our community since, and new
cats have joined us, periodically, some of which cats are indoor / outdoor,
and some of which are indoor-only.

Physical space: 28 units on 2.8 net acres (on a somewhat busy street)
somewhat densely built in multiplex and duplex buildings, but with a lot of
green / common space. We have a range of unit sizes. We have 6 upstairs 2
bd units with exclusive use common area balconies.  All of the rest of the
22 units are comprised of 16 townhouses ranging from 3 - 5 bd units, and 6
downstairs 2 bd units. Each of these 22 units have an exclusive use common
area back yard. Many of those back yards are fenced; some are not. But cats
are not fazed by fences.  We have extensive common area buildings, and
driveways, sidewalks, paths, landscaping, etc. including a community
garden, pool / spa area, children's sandbox, etc.

We bought a custom cover for the large children's sandbox soon after
move-in for obvious reasons.

There are concerns about outdoor / indoor-outdoor cats using the common
areas, including common area landscaping and the garden, and including
someone *else's* exclusive use common area back yards.  Specific voiced
concerns are (1) Cat feces. The handling of cat feces is not safe for
pregnant women; we don't want the children playing in cat deposits; we
don't want cat deposits in the potato bed and other garden beds. Moreover,
some [unidentifiable] cats seem to have targeted certain landscaped areas,
e.g., a specific back or side yard area, to the chagrin of those tending
those areas.  (2) Fighting. The cats occasionally fight, sometimes with
outside cats as well as each other, sometimes necessitating vet expenses.
(3) Hunting. Cats hunt, and while we like them hunting mice we dislike them
hunting birds, and lizards. Some have suggested belling the cats as a way
to discourage bird loss. We already have a provision in the Pet Policy
banning feeding and watering feral animals.

(Full disclosure: when I moved here in 2008 I had 2 indoor-only cats and
then took in my mom's indoor-only cat.  I was adopted by and am now staff
to an abandoned "feral" cat here in 2014, several years after the last of
my indoor-only cats had died.  Once I could get him into a cage, I promptly
had him neutered, and named him Tommy.  I make sure he is routinely
vaccinated and taken care of by the vet [including injuries incurred in
fights], I preventively treat for possible fleas & ticks monthly, and I
feed him well [inside!] but so far he hasn't agreed to being indoor-only. I
have tried. He likes being in when he likes being in...)

Discussion has ensued about changing (or not) the Pet Policy following the
raising of concerns about cat issues.  Some suggestions are (1)
grandfathering in any existing cats which are indoor/outdoor and / or
outdoor cats, but making all future cats indoor only, (2) suggesting that
indoor/outdoor cats' staff place & maintain an additional, outside litter
box in their exclusive use common area backyard (as well as the one in the
house!), (3) suggesting a cat person might consider a "catio" in their
exclusive use common area back yard (complete with a litter box and
climbing apparatus, etc).

There has been some concern expressed that "banning" future indoor/outdoor
cats will discourage future residents from joining our community and / or
that that rule would not be enforceable. Unenforceable rules are vexing and
lead to irritation amongst the community members...

Q1:  Does your community allow / ban outdoor or indoor / outdoor cats?
Q2: Whether you do or do not, do you have any words of wisdom about any of
these issues?

Thanks in advance,

Susan Coberly

you may email me off list if you wish. Many folks may not be interested in
this issue presently.
I would be glad to make available a summary of the results.

susandgeorge [at]

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