In many ways, cats are “easier” pets than dogs. They tend to clean up their own mess (when they can) and although kittens can get up to a lot of mischief, they are not nearly as destructive as puppies can be – most of the time, and in my personal opinion.
A while ago, I read an article about how a vet recommends you should keep your cat indoors. The article actually states to keep them indoors from dawn till dusk, but there are many ardent advocates for “indoor cats” and for various reasons, which all make perfect sense.
Cats are nature’s perfect little predators and can wreak havoc among the natural wild life in your garden. I despair every time I see my lot in a little druid’s circle on the lawn, because it’s more than likely they have some poor little creature cornered. One of the four is a bird catcher. The other likes mice. And the youngest can only seem to bring me giant cockroaches! The fourth one isn’t much interested in hunting, which makes me very happy. There is very sound scientific research stating exactly how much damage they can cause…
Another reason for keeping cats indoors is for their own safety. This too, makes a lot of sense. Cats roam quite far and I may be called a very bad cat owner since two of my cats have actually been hit by cars. I was very lucky in the sense that both of them managed to make their way home and I was able to take them for treatment, but this last incident got me thinking really hard about this “for their own safety” thing.
I got my first cat while I was getting divorced. He lived in my bedroom for quite a while and I will never forget the day we finally moved into our own place. I didn’t even think to keep him indoors and I was walking towards the gate when I found him sitting on the lawn, eyes closed, obviously just enjoying the sun on his little furry face.
Our little family soon grew to three with the addition of two brothers. They never liked being indoors and started jumping out of the window as soon as they realised it was there. When we moved to our new house, I did try to keep them all inside for the required three weeks, but the gruesome twosome peed over everything. And I mean everything! Animal behaviourists can tell me whatever they like, these boys, did it to get a message across – there were litter trays aplenty and cat-calming wall-pluggy things all over the house. I woke up one morning to find one little bastard pissing on ME! He was squatting on my bed, peeing all over me. It all stopped the minute I let them into the garden…
So here is my question/ statement / problem: In the horsey world, we have seen many, many people turn to a more “natural” (although I have a problem with that term too! Food for a later post) ways of keeping horses – ie keeping them in fields instead of stabled all day and leaving them barefoot instead of shoeing them. There are many reasons to do this – horses develop all sorts of unnatural behaviours such as weaving, cribbing, windsucking, stall walking and many more because of the fact that they want to be outside, moving.
So what neurotic behaviours will cats develop when they are deprived of their natural instinct to hunt and roam? (They will pee on you, for one!) My cats obviously love being outside. The little guy who has just come back from hospital spends most of his day outside on the lawn (despite his bandaged leg and the fact that I tried desperately to keep him inside), or in my herb planter box. He has been cooped up and he wants nothing more than to be outside. I can say, I will keep them indoors for their own good, but mentally, what good does it do? I know one can build catios and all provide toys to try and keep them busy, but my only cat who enjoys the smorgasboard of toys is the one who doesn’t hunt…he still likes to go out and lie on the grass and bake in the sun….It is only my opinion, but I don’t think it is right to keep cats permanently locked up.
Is it not the same as locking my child in her room and saying she is not allowed out because I’m scared she will get hurt? Where does one draw the line?