One of the reasons that I have resisted having a pet is to avoid the feelings of guilt. If you have been reading my articles lately, you will know that a stray cat came to our deck two and a half weeks ago. It has been with us ever since the day that my husband let it in when asking if my son wanted to see a cat. We are keeping the cat since we couldn’t locate the owner. Even though this cat doesn’t demonstrate any trait of a feral cat, there is the possibility that he could be one, a descendant of a domesticated cat that has returned to the wild, rather than a stray cat which is a pet cat that has been lost, an explanation to why nobody came forward to claim him.
Owning a cat adds worries. I am torn apart by the idea of keeping the cat locked indoors the majority of the time and only allowing it to stay outdoors for a limited time. He likes outdoors a lot. Every day, he would stare out the windows or stay right next to the garage door, meowing at you and begging you to let him out so he can lie on the grass, sniff the fresh air, enjoy the sunbathing, and hunt for whatever preys he encounters. He exhibits such great pleasure staying outdoors that it seems cruel to deprive him of the outdoors and his freedom as a natural cat. Since it costs thousands to build a huge outdoor cat enclosure, as an alternative, we have been staying outside with him to ensure that he doesn’t venture to places far away and lost his way back home. I do not like the idea of chaining the cat with a leash as it defeats the purpose of allowing him to hunt freely.
Here comes the guilty conscience. To be honest, I am not an outdoor person. My paranoia of the insects, particularly of bees and mosquitoes, or more precisely my insectophobia, totally takes over me. I cannot bear staying outside for more than half an hour on our yard especially in the summer. That is one reason I don’t do yard work, plant any flower or grow any vegetable. If this cat knows to stay close to home, I will not worry about letting him out all the time. Right now, he is pretty good at staying close to us when we are outside with him. However, I am not certain where he would end up if we are not close to him. In addition, we are not home all the time to let him out. I know some of the theories from people around keeping the cats entirely indoors. For me, I would prefer a short happy life to a long boring life. In addition, theories are mostly theories. You can always find obscuring or misleading statistics to back up your claims. Where is the valid source for the claim of outdoor cats living at an average of 3 years? You could argue that it is for the cat’s benefit to be caged in the BIG house and that the cat can still be happy being locked inside the house all day long if you train him and change his behaviors to only want to stay indoors. Wouldn’t that be similar to brainwashing? How about imprisoning an adopted child in your house for his entire life? Isn’t it unfair to confine such a free-spirited animal to the indoors?
Anyway, that is just how I feel. Maybe I do treat cats more like a human being. All of us have our own unique personality, so are the cats. What works for one may not work for the other. In addition, we all have our own philosophy of life. I do agree that, as claimed by some, indoor cats are more likely to suffer psychologically and develop behavioral problems than those allowed outside due to its inability to exhibit normal feline ranging behavior. I am somewhat of a hedonist. I do believe it to be essential to the cat’s mental health, especially to the one that we found, for him to be allowed to go outside. Oh, by the way, most cats are kept outdoors in the United Kingdom.
As you all know, cats are crepuscular. The dilemma we have is our failure to provide an environment which allows him to have access to the outdoor to hunt at dawn and dusk. Hunting provides him the necessary diet and exercise he needs to stay healthy. You could probably tell that I have an opinion on cats’ diet as well in addition to declawing. See, that is why I lack the intention to own a pet. I am such an opinionated person.
Anyway, we live in a safe and quiet huge cul-de-sac far away from traffic in a very good neighborhood, right next to a nature preserve park. Our neighbors’ pets are all kept indoors except my next door neighbor’s dog which would get out occasionally and play in the backyard. However, the dog has no interest in the cat. Our environment is considered pretty safe for the cat to stay outdoors and roam around freely especially that he is now updated with all vaccination, dewormed and with flea/ticks drops applied. I finally brought the cat to see the vet. He is checked out to be a very healthy cat and at about one year old. He will be neutered next week. I see death as a natural part of life. What we can do is to provide the best we can and whatever precautionary measure we can take.
Written by Elisa English
On May 18th, 2011