What’s new in our life? Nothing much except that our cat has officially become a rabbit killer and that we have recently bought two tablets.
No, you didn’t hear me wrong. I did say “a rabbit killer”. This is a touchy subject. As I wrote in my previous blog, we were imprisoned by one of human traits, subjectivity. We are all biased in our own causes and often condemn those whose beliefs differ from ours. I don’t want to get into the debate of indoor cat versus outdoor cat. Like parenting, we all have our own parenting style. What works for one may not works for the other. Many Asian families I know of do not agree with my laissez-faire parenting style and our approach to entice our kids into getting things done with earned privilege, especially on the type of earned privilege we offer. If you want to know what they are, just continue reading. I will reveal that at the end. For now, I would like to talk about our cat.
If you have been following my blog, you will know that we were adopted by a cat wandering around in our neighborhood. The thought of him being a feral cat did not cross our mind when we first saw him for his friendliness, mild temperament and affection on us. In addition, he knew to use the litter box without any training. He was meowing at my husband constantly, begging for attention, on the day that he came up on our deck. Once inside the house, he quickly rubbed against my husband’s leg and lay down on his back, purring and signaling my husband to stroke his tummy. He didn’t object to and was submissive to my son’s picking him up. We didn’t keep the cat initially. Our neighbor took in the cat and fed him for the first four days while looking for his owner. They couldn’t keep the stray cat because they already have an indoor declawed cat. My son was extremely sad during the time the cat was kept in my neighbor’s house. We ended up adopting the stray cat since nobody came forward to claim him. We took him to the veterinarian for a checkup and to get him neutered, vaccinated and dewormed. The vet told us that he was about one year old which validated our suspicion. He checked out to be a healthy cat. He lived with us for about a month and then we were out of the country for almost a month. Luckily, one of our neighbors, a cat lover, came to feed and walk him while we were away.
Yes, you hear me right. My neighbor put him in a harness and walked him on a leash. Since our cat used to be a stray, he yearns to be outdoors all the time. In fear of losing our cat, my neighbor came up with this alternative. I have always thought that our cat is socialized to people as he warmed up to our next door neighbors right away, exposing his tummy to them the first time he saw them. However, I found out later that he wasn’t always this friendly to strangers. I was somewhat surprised to find that he retreated with fear and wiggled out of his harness when approached by some of our neighbors and even their kids. The other day when he followed us to the park, he seemed scared by one of the joggers/walkers. Maybe our cat does choose with whom he wants to interact. He didn’t seem bothered by our kids and would initiate play with them. My son is eight years old and you know how kids are at that age. My daughter is five years old. She tends to think sadly that the cat hates her because of how he interacts with her. Our cat likes to sneak up on us and pounces on our toes or hides under the bed and attack our feet as we walk by. Sometimes he would gently scratch or bite us. Yes, he does have sharp claws. From the interaction between my daughter and our cat, I wonder if my daughter is ranked as the lowest pack member.
Since our cat used to be a stray, to survive in the wild, he needs to be a hunter. I haven’t seen him catching any bird yet. He hasn’t actually jumped on any bird he sees because the birds are usually high up on the trees and they can fly away easily. He did try to catch squirrels several times but in vain. All we see were squirrels standing on top of the tree, screeching angrily at him. The other day we saw our cat being chased by two angry gigantic crows. Anyway, he probably learnt his lessons to never provoke the crows. By the way, the only success he has was his hunt for mice and rabbits. He would bring his prey back home and ate them. We didn’t let him bring it into the house. He ate them on our porch or inside the garage. Most of the time when he brought back his prey, it was still alive. However, it would never survive from the cat inflicted wound. If our cat did not eat it, it would be eaten by hawks, owls, foxes, coyotes, raccoons or whatever animals that live in this nature preserve park. Cottontail rabbits are kind of considered agricultural pests, so the neighbors don’t really mind him eating them, not to mention mice. The risk to the cat would be the diseases and parasites that rodents and rabbits might carry and the likelihood of them being transmitted to our kids. We have been constantly reminding our kids to keep good personal hygiene. We all take certain risk in our lives.
Indubitably, I do believe the confinement of such free-spirited animals indoors to be unfair. We allow our cat free reign over the house and one to two hours of outdoor time when we are home. He never ventures too far when outdoors and will come back with a whistle. Since we lives in the cul-de-sac, there is barely any traffic, so the likelihood of him being run over by a car is slim. In addition, our kids play and ride bikes in the neighborhood. The farthest our cat will go is three houses up from ours on our left and two houses up from ours on our right. All these neighbors are cat lovers and have either kept a cat now or before and wouldn’t mind if our cat is in their yards except our next door neighbor on our right who owns a Labrador. However, that neighbor wouldn’t care either because he let his dog run freely outside without a leash. His dog would sometimes run to our yard or our neighbors’ and barks at us. Our kids were sometimes startled by the dog’s sudden approach. However, his dog just likes to bark and means no harm except that we have to constantly scooping up his poops on our lawn. He seems to get along with our cat but had one time barked at him which drove him to climb up a tree.
In America, there is a huge belief in keeping cats indoors for safety reason. The belief is that indoor cats are less likely to be hit by cars, less likely to be attacked by other predators, less likely to create neighbor problems, less likely to get abscesses from fighting, less likely to be harmed by strangers, less likely to be poisoned, less likely to pose a harm to wildlife, and less likely to get lost or stolen. We live in a world full of uncertainty. There is always risk in life. What we can do is to minimize the risk and take whatever precaution we can. If circumstances are conducive to allowing cats free rein to the outdoors, why not? Nothing is black or white. There may be ways to compromise and reach a middle ground. To me, keeping an indoor-outdoor cat is the middle ground when our circumstances allow it. This way, the cat is semi-happy (being let out for one or two hours a day to hunt for food) and we feel less guilty. In addition, he continues to sharpen his skills. With so much uncertainty in this world, if he happens to get lost, he will be able to survive in the wild again.
By the way, we went to the vet lately because our cat developed an upper respiratory infection. We suspected that he got it from playing with an injured mouse. My son saw the injured mouse and called our cat over. My husband threw away the mouse in fear of any poison. Does this change our view to keep an indoor-outdoor cat? Nope. Like I said earlier, we live in a world full of uncertainty.
Oh, I almost forgot the other subject: our recent investment and the kids’ earned privilege. I will write about that next time.
Written by Elisa English
On August 19, 2011 in Minneapolis