Monday, May 11, 2009 1:53 PM

Indoor v. Outdoor: Cats Weigh In

Can cats be happy never going outdoors? Is is unfair or cruel to keep cats from frolicking in the grass, hunting and defending their territory from all comers? In my experience, cats don't miss the great outdoors one bit. Certainly, they don't mind not getting beat up, acquiring infections and parasites or being struck by cars (and, as we've already discussed, either do we!). More importantly, though, is the fact that they don't miss what they've never had. There are a couple of tricks involved in getting them to this point, however.

When speaking of new kittens, the program is simple: just don't ever let them outdoors! They'll be plenty busy if there are at least two of them, and/or other pets in the household. Plus, there are humans always ready to give them attention whenever they want it. Mostly, though, they just won't know there's anything more, so they won't be bothered in the least. This is the easiest method of creating "indoor" cats.

How about adult cats that have been outdoors already? Here, we have two main categories: cats that you have recently adopted and your own cats, moving from your old domicile to a new one. The change of venue makes the new protocol much easier for you to institute. In a new house, the cats don't know where the door to the outside is, so they won't sit there and LOUDLY beg to be let out. They very quickly get used to staying indoors. Here's my example.

When we first moved from the suburbs to the woods, we had two 10-year-old outdoor/indoor cats: Sweet Pea and Min. I had decided that the dangers of our new environment (fisher cats, bears, coyote and foxes) meant that these guys' steppin' out days were over. Once they calmed down and got used to the new place, they never even asked to go out. Once, in fact, we went on a day trip and I didn't latch the door behind me when we left. We returned home in the evening to find the door ajar, though locked. I immediately realized what I had done, so we weren't worried about burglars. It was autumn and leaves had blown into the cellar, proving that the door had been open for a while, at least. We went in search of the cats, concerned that they may have escaped! They were both snoozing on the furniture in the living room. Later, we found two piles of vomited grass, proving that they had gone outside, grazed, come back in, purged and gone to bed! We still laugh about this and our concern that they might have "run away". They still never asked to go out, even after that--they must have figured that it was a one-time treat.

How about cats that are used to going out and you have no plans to move? Hmmm. We'll tackle that question tomorrow, I think.

What The…: My husband was showing a pickup truck he had for sale to a prospective buyer a couple of weeks ago. As the guy is studying the engine compartment (?), J. noticed something move on the underside of the hood. A mouse had poked its head out and then gone back into hiding. The guy hadn’t noticed. When he started the truck, however, there was a god awful squeal; he didn’t buy the truck. J. claims it was probably just a seized bearing, but I wonder…
Chat later!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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