The Q&A sites waffle about this, some claiming that it’s “natural” for a cat to eat mice, therefore it must be ok. It might be argued that it’s more healthy for a cat to do what comes naturally to it, etc.
A little common sense, however, suggests that the more potentially dangerous things a cat is protected from, the less likely it will be hurt, get sick, or carry disease. One particular problem that’s mentioned is that outdoor cats can pick up a range of diseases, including rabies, tularemia, plague, monkeypox, listeria, and anthrax. (These are very bad diseases!) They can also get a nice selection of infestations, one that’s commonly mentioned is toxoplasmosis, which is dangerous to pregnant women.
Your question mentioned specifically mice, and in rare situations cats can get the plague, for example, from plague mice with fleas. Of course, it’s possible that your cat will eat a mouse that’s been poisoned, which brings up the question of what’s the best way to get rid of mice. Maybe the best answer for some people is a cat!
In sum, your family and your cat are taking a small risk, letting a cat outdoors for any reason. For families with a pregnant woman, seriously sick people, or people with immune deficiencies, it’s probably a no-no.
Bad in what way? For the cat, not usually. For everything else, yes.
Domesticated felines lay waste to local avian and small mammal populations.
It is bad to let your cat catch outdoor prey because your cat is taking away prey from natural outdoor predators that rely on those mice for survival. Many birds of prey feed on mice, as well as other wild species. As freedsmooth also mentioned, cats can potentially get sick from eating mice. And, as slyvestergraham mentioned, there are feral cat populations (and cats owned as pets) that are killing endangered species of birds, as well as common birds, that other predators rely on.
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