I see that my last post opened up a fascinating discussion. Like many breeders I’ve become evangelical about keeping your cats indoors and have it written in my sales contract. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not worried about the local wild life. If a cat can catch a good meal, I say GO FOR IT. If I put a bell on a cat it’s so I can find him/her more easily. However, I was very interested to read this article about the different trends around the world in regards to keeping domestic cats: http://www.messybeast.com/indooroutdoor.htm
It gave me paws .. err, I mean PAUSE! It made me think about this particular debate. The trend of keeping cats indoor only is actually fairly recent here in the United States, so don’t let any of us Americans try and tell you folks “over there” how to do it! I was the first in my family to begin keeping my cats indoor only, with my mother’s words ringing in my ears: “it’s unnatural and unhealthy for cats to be kept inside.” This from a woman who had lost cats to coyotes and mountain lions. But that was the natural order of country life.
In my younger days — you know, like, when I was in my mid-twenties to mid-thirties — my cats were indoor/outdoor, often with free 24/7 access through a cat door. It was sad, but expected that I would lose many of them to various tragedies. Some disappeared and were never seen again. One disappeared for a week and was finally discovered barely alive having been accidentally locked in the neighbor’s basement. When I was married, we got an adorable little Siamese kitten I named Scratch. I’ll never forget him. He was allowed out of course. One day he went missing and I posted fliers around the neighborhood. Someone found him and he was returned. Unfortunately Scratch was hit and killed by a car not too long after that. But I continued to believe in the indoor/outdoor thing. It was just life. I was reluctantly forced to start keeping my cats indoors when I got divorced and moved into a mobile home park where the neighbors complained about my cats so bitterly that I finally just kept them inside. Interestingly, I suddenly had one less thing to worry about and became used to knowing that my cats were safe. Years later both my mother (still living in the wild) and my sister finally followed suit.
I think worldwide and certainly in the United States attitudes towards cats have dramatically changed. They are now “family members.” My sister refers to my cats as her nieces and nephews, even the kittens that have been adopted out. I don’t call a kitten’s buyer the “owner” but, instead, “Mom” or “Dad.” However, despite the new trend there are many decisions to make and the impending meteor strike to consider. Although my cats became indoor cats, when I moved to my current house and purchased my first two pedigreed kitties, Josephine and Daisy (Himalayans), I allowed them out in the back yard with supervision. However I complacently went about my chores inside on occasion. This was BE (before enclosure). Josephine went over the fence, not once, but twice. Obviously I’m slow learner! The first time I found her in the neighbor’s yard and the second time she was gone 24 hrs. AGAIN — fliers all over the neighborhood and she was returned to me. I was hit by the meteor and survived — that time — and she was with me until her death at 17.
Probably like every caring cat caretaker, I’m constantly weighing the pros and cons of every little thing — the dangers versus the benefits versus inconvenience — or whatever. I’ve had people ask if I’m afraid of birds of prey. What if one swooped down and grabbed one of my cats? Then there’s the marauding cars hot-rodding the street behind my house. Others have asked about disease potential OUT THERE, or what if one gets stung by a bee or bitten by a spider? I suppose we each have our own level of tolerance when it comes to figuring the odds of that meteor honing in on our tiny abode. I just don’t know which way to jump sometimes. Thank God I never had human children! I’d really be a mess.