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Pros and cons
There are a good many arguments for keeping them inside. They will live longer since the chances of being hit by a car, hurt by other people or animals, or infected with contagious diseases from feral cats will be minimized. On the other hand, cats derive much pleasure from exploring around outside. 
Often, a satisfactory compromise is to allow the cat out under supervision. This can be done by either letting them out into a fenced yard (although if you leave them out there, they will probably eventually climb the fence), or using a harness and leash. To use the latter, accustom them to the harness first, in the same way as a collar. Then accustom them to the leash by leaving it on for short periods of time. Then take them outside, and follow them where they go (do not try to take them "on a walk"). 
Sometimes you can proof your backyard against escape (or quick escape) with either an "invisible fence" arrangement (these are usually for dogs, but our models have been adapted for cats) or with reinforcing material on the fence to prevent escape. 

Pet doors
Pet doors are a good solution for people tired of letting cats in and out. There are many kinds of doors, including those that fit into patio doors without requiring a hole cut through the wall or door. 
You may have trouble with other animals coming in the door, or want to let your dog but not your cat use the pet door. The solution is an electronic pet door. The door has a lock that is deactivated by a magnet that selected pets wear on their collar.  

Electronic pet doors are installed much like a regular pet door, but you plug them in. The door itself needs a firmer push to open than most. A great feature is the 4-way lock. The lock can be set so the cat can 1) go both in and out 2) go in only - great if you want to catch them 3) out only 4) totally locked. 

Outdoor Cat vs. Indoor Cat - Cat Doors Cat Fences 

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