For the most part, all of our cats stay inside, though I think I mentioned once before that when we lived in Arizona we'd occasionally let Simon and Violet out in the back yard since we had a big fence around the yard. In our current house there's no enclosed area outside for them to stay but Violet was such a mellow kitty that we could let her out our front door occasionally and we could get her to stay with us on the front stoop. Sometimes she'd get down into the adjacent flower bed and explore a little bit but she was the cautious type. We were always out there with her and we kept a close eye on her when she was out there but we didn't have to worry about her making a break for it. Sometimes I'd just have her sit on my lap on the front steps for a while then I'd bring her back in. She wasn't always happy about going back inside, especially if her outdoor excursion had only lasted a few minutes, but we believe that was best for her. And for most other cats.
It's possible I could be convinced that in rare situations it's OK for cats to roam free outside but I really believe that in the majority of situations our companion kitties should be kept indoors. There are so many bad things that can happen to outdoor cats. They can get hit by cars, fight with other cats or dogs, catch diseases, get harassed by neighbors, etc. In the places that we've lived especially, traffic is an issue. Not long after we moved into our current house a neighbor's cat was hit by a car and killed right in front of our house. It's been difficult enough losing our beloved Violet to a disease that we couldn't do anything about; I can't fathom losing a kitty that way.
Cats are very curious and there are those who believe that they "need" to be outside but we do our best to entertain our fluffy friends inside the house and I think they're happy. We have many climbing trees and scratching posts and lots of toys and we play with them as much as we can. When the weather permits (and sometimes even when it doesn't) we open the windows and they like to sit and sniff the outside air through the screens. Our next goal is to save enough money to build at least a small screened porch in the back of our house so they could spend time outside but still be in an enclosure. And maybe eventually we'll turn our house into something like The Cat's House
. We've already gotten started by building one small catwalk. I wish Violet was still here to enjoy that and all our future plans but I know she had a happy life.