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Many cat lovers argue that it is cruel to make felines stay indoors. I’m in the opposite camp. We say that letting the kitties outside is cruel — and not just because coyotes and speeding cars threaten them. It’s because cats kill birds, chipmunks and other small mammals in shocking numbers.

This is not a new tension. In 1949 then-Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson vetoed a bill titled “An Act to Provide Protection to Insectivorous Birds by Restraining Cats.” Stevenson quipped that “to escort a cat abroad on a leash is against the nature of the cat.”

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Froma Harrop is a columnist for The Providence Journal.

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