Will the meteor hit MY house this decade? Indoor or outdoor?

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.

Take if from here, Gypsy Rose!

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.

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19 responses to “Will the meteor hit MY house this decade? Indoor or outdoor?

  1. Yeah just try to imagine Baby Misha outside with Swainson’s Hawks and Buzzards and Owls circling overhead. Or trying like a squirrel to run across busy Russell Blvd. in Davis.

    • And yet tiny Misha — even tinier then — roamed in my enclosure with Swainson’s Hawks, Buzzards, Owls potentially overhead … I’VE certainly thought about it!! The kittens are the most vulnerable. I can see Misha shaking her little paw in the air at such predators: “UP YOURS! Beastly Birds!” … well, I truly hope that I never see this in my area. I haven’t actually seen any large birds. However when I lived down south in San Luis Obispo, my cats were indoor/outdoor and I watched with mouth agape when one of my cats caught a mouse … that was pretty cool, but down swooped a hawk and grabbed that mouse right out of the cat’s mouth and took off!

      • Wow – I’d like to have seen that, too! Too bad you didn’t have a video camera going!

      • This was in the late 70’s. Before digital cameras. I don’t think there was any talk of keeping cats indoors only at all back then, but I could be wrong.

  2. I am of the “indoor” only cat moms. Having said that though, my outdoor deck in 2 stories high, so I let Mikki Lee and Henry out on the deck only.
    Henry has learned to jump the gate leading to the stairs and has gone missing for a few hours. I keep telling him he’s grounded after that, but after a couple of days, I relent and let him out on the deck again. He behaves maybe one day or two days and then- bam-gone over the gate again, only be found at the bottom of the stairs and returns in heartbeat as soon as he realizes he’s busted. What are you going to do….I guess I’ll wait and pray the meteor passes me by……………

    • Yes, GM … we’ve all been there … or are there … or are going to be there … it’s a fine line to walk, this safety issue … and not just with our cats, but with everything we do.

  3. By the way..great photo of Gypsy Rose…………

  4. Well put Molly. and GM. Good discussion. Difficult balance…

    as for pic of GR.. well I NEVER realised there was SUCH an adorable kitty inside all that fur!
    Bobin

  5. We learned after our beloved cat disappeared for several weeks, and when she returned, she’d been shot — yes, shot with a gun — in the hip. I don’t know how she made it home because she could barely walk. She had to have a pin installed into her hip, and went on to live many more years to die at the ripe old age of 18. After that, no more cats outside (except my brother’s “shop” cat, but that was beyond my control — and now my feral cat who, for obvious reasons, can’t come inside). I’ve had friends whose cats have gotten AIDS or leukemia, gotten attacked by cougars or dogs, gotten hit by cars, and that’s not even counting the fleas, lice, ticks and grass problems. All my indoor-only cats have never missed going outside; if they’ve never known anything else but an indoor life, they don’t miss it.

  6. Ah yes, the days when you use to see cats roaming the neighborhood…not anymore and I, for one, only let my cats out on the screened porch. I have placed “kitty perches” at all the windows and they LOVE to peek outside to see what is happening. Since I started keeping my cats indoors, my vet bills went down precipitously! No more cat fights, worms, fleas, getting hit by cars, wondering off, exploring people’s cars (back when car windows were left open), etc. I am definitely much more at peace knowing my kitties are indoors, safe & sound. The only way I would EVER consider letting them wonder around outdoors is on a leash or if I had a safe enclosure, like you have Molly!!

  7. Molly all of my kitties are “indoor” kitties. My husband and I just feel that it is safer to keep them inside. We have done the indoor/outdoor kitty thing but there were days that Chandler would not come home and we didn’t know if he was dead or alive. Thankfully he lived to the ripe age of 17 with us which is incredible. Now all we have are 5 indoor kitties.
    We do have a little “sneak” in the litter and her name is Sophie. She is the queen of the lot and she is so fast that when we open the door she will absolutely tear out the door and run by our legs. If we’re lucky she won’t get far and we can bring her right back in. Other times we’re not so lucky.
    Our concern with Sophie is that she will bring in the ticks and the fleas to the other kitties because she just loves to roll in the bushes that we have outside and we live in the Ozarks which are known for all the little critters.
    Sophie has such thick hair because she is himalayan that sometimes we miss stuff when she comes in. The little turkey.
    Just keep doing what you’re doing, you’ve got a follower here who likes to learn your tricks and admires your work. Plus I’m looking forward to Sequoia getting pregnant and having beautiful babies that I’ll be watching just like I did G and H litters.

    Molly, I’m sending you my best wishes.
    Lorraine Brattin
    “momw3himmies”

    • Hi Lorraine,

      Only five? You are under quota! LOL. My two himmies used to barge out the door too whenever I opened it until I started ringing my own doorbell before unlocking it. The current bunch are pretty well trained, but Gypsy Rose is getting full of herself and has made a couple of breaks for it. It’s probably my fault for taking her out front on her leash… she just loves that.

  8. The birds of prey thing actually happened to my friend’s cat! One morning her husband was looking out the window (second story) and he thought he say their kitten lying in the gravel on the driveway. He went downstairs and got her, brought her inside and checked her out. Her belly was all torn up, gravel up inside. The vet found talon marks on her neck. They think an owl got her, possibly a young, inexperienced one, who then dropped her from quite a height, which caused the gravel to get shoved up under the skin when she landed. That was several years ago, and the cat who lost a few of her 9 lives that day still has several to spare. I was really amazed at that story. They live out in the country, in the high desert of Central Oregon. They had chicken wire on the TOP of the chicken coop to keep the feathered predators out!

    As far as my conversion to indoor only cats goes, that happened after a number of years of hauling a cat to the vet after a fight, and having a cat with leukemia, I decided no more outdoor cats. I live in a condo now, and one of the rules is dogs AND cats outside on leash only. Tiger and Lily have not read the rules and have escaped a couple of times – Tiger knows how to open the screen door on the patio door.

    Yes, they are like my children, very different from when I was growing up, and even when my kids were still at home. I don’t have kids in the house to worry about (though I worry about them anyway), so my cats have become my kids. I think I’m turning into a crazy cat lady! We did not dodge the meteor with my human children (one had cancer as a toddler but is 28 and healthy now, the other had surgery at 3 weeks old and is now 31 and about to become a father). Molly, you do live through it all, kind of like we do with our furry children.

  9. I think probably because I don’t have any children I’ve always considered Phoebe & Zoey to be my kids. I’ve always referred to myself as “Mommy” to them and I talk about them as if they are human. When I’m talking to someone I call them my “children of the feline variety.” They are indoor-only as I live in a condo in an area with a lot of traffic. They have never been outside so it’s not like I’m depriving them of something. I used to have a friend whose cat would bolt out the front door (this was when I lived in Jacksonville, FL and my friend’s apartment was next to a golf course…chasing a cat on a golf course in 100 degree weather is NOT my idea of fun!). I didn’t want to have to worry about that with my girls so from the minute they came home at 8 weeks, any time they started to go near the door I would make all kinds of noise, yelling and stomping my feet. It worked because to this day, 7 years later, they will not go out the door, even if it’s open for a minute so I can bring something in! I have steps right by my door and they will sit on the steps and just watch me.

  10. I forgot to mention that the picture of baby Gypsy Rose is just precious! : )

  11. Thanks so much for the article Molly, it’s answered a lot of my concerns.
    I was talking to some friends last night and happened to say I was considering keeping my next cat indoors. Their reaction was of horror. That’s how different things are here. O.K, we don’t have the problems with predatory creatures, even though foxes are becoming very frequent visitors in this area, they seem to leave the cats alone.
    However, thinking back, I’ve realised that all the cats we had who died at a young age was due to being allowed to roam outside. Hit by a car, picking up an infection, eating poison and that doesn’t include the one who decided to wonder off for a few days.
    There is a lighter side though, one of my neices had a cat who came in through their cat flap one day wearing a collar……this surprised them as they had never put a collar on him…… what’s more, the information on the collar read ‘ Please do not feed our cat’. It turned out that ‘tiddles’ was living in two homes, one of their neighbours had taken him in thinking he was a stray ( I don’t know why, he didn’t look like a stray).
    Anyway, it took a while for my niece and her husband to convince their neighbours that it was their cat and that they had had him from a kitten….. then (much to kittys annoyance I expect) that was the end of his double life!

  12. Down here in South Florida people steal pets from your yard to use to train pit bulls to fight. In addition, I am afraid of all the wildlife taking a bite out of my best friends. I did have a screened porch that I deemed safe if I was at home. My guys lived a long and healthy life.

    • Simone…you’re definitely making a good choice! Molly’s international followers may not realize that the “wild life” in FL are gators, snakes, lizards, and/or poisonous insects. A cat could easily be swallowed up! The people who take pets as pit bull bait make me sick for both the bait animals and the pit bulls. Pit bulls are sweet-natured, gentle animals being abused & trained to be killers. It’s so sad and disgusting!

  13. Just my two cents from little Molly’s Dad. (Little Molly used to be Halo). I firmly believe that indoor is the way to go. We lost out little Ashley this year from natural causes. She was 16. We were devastated by her loss. I can not imagine how I would feel if one of our other two cats would perish from something that I could have prevented. Both of our cats are quite comfy, well fed, and most importantly safe indoors.

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