In the vast internet world there seem to be two groups of cat people; the ‘if you let your cat outside your cat will die’ group and the ‘if you keep your cat indoors then you’re reducing their quality of life and you are bad’ group. It translates as a fight between ‘curiosity killed the cat’ and ‘satisfaction brought it back’. But what about us humpty dumptys? I’ve been sitting on this wall for some time now, but as spring and sunshine have arrived it’s time to do some proper thinking.
Lyla-cat thinks she’s brave enough to go outside of course. Here she is pretending to be a bear;
So. Here are a list of reasons why you should not let your cat go outside;
- The big scary one – accidents caused by cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, mobility scooters, segways… (lots of things that move and are heavy and can cause squishing)
- Injuries from fighting with other animals which can lead to…
- …risks of disease (including Feline Leukemia, Feline AIDs, rabies, toxoplasmosis)
- Animal cruelty. Every day there seems to be something new and horrible out there; the postman-cat killer, cat shot by yobs and the 2010 famous ‘cat in wheelie-bin‘ incident.
- Parasites – icky things like fleas and worms and other insects
- Skin cancer – especially if they have white or light-coloured fur on their little faces and lie on their back with their legs in the air to sunbathe
- Catnapping – to be kept as pets elsewhere or the more sinister version…
- …cats being stolen as ‘live bait’ in order to train fighting dogs. I began all this a bit tongue in cheek until the power of google and the good old Daily Mail introduced me to ‘cat coursing’
- Cats that are stolen, killed and eaten (not sure how culturally relevant this one is for England but worth adding for fearmongering purposes anyway)
- Puddles of antifreeze/de-icer – apparently cats like this stuff (though I’m certainly not putting it to the test), but even if a cat just steps in the stuff then licks their paw – it can potentially cause fatal kidney failure
- Suffocation by cat collars on fences / trees / outside-collar-attracting-structures
- Exposure to weather – sun, wind, rain causing heatstroke/ hypothermia
I’m sure there are more but I’m already thoroughly depressed and the thing is, our Lyla-cat was quite happy in her old garden. It was small and sheltered and she could just about squeeze under the gate to go and waddle about in the cul-de-sac if she wanted to – but most of the time she didn’t. She could climb up the fence and sit on the shed or extension roof if it was sunny – but she’d then have problems climbing back down again (cue angry NOW face). There were a few scary nights waiting up until 2am for her to sheepishly return and worries about the neighbours’ massive moody cat – but in the two years we’ve had her nothing terrible happened.
Then we moved at the start of winter and she’s been a happy indoor cat for the past five (admittedly cold and miserable) months and it’s time to figure out what to do! Some sites recommend doing a risk assessment of your new area (e.g. main roads, neighbours, nearby bully cats, cat-flap facilities, nature of cat, groups of evil people etc. etc.) but I’m still sat here twiddling my thumbs. The truth is, I do think it is in a cat’s nature to go outside, be independent and explore their own territory. However, I also know that Lyla-cat isn’t street-savvy, she’s not agile enough to evade evil (people / animals / wizards). I dearly wish she was a rough and ready Thomas O’Malley alley cat able to take care of herself – but she’s not. It would also break my heart if she disappeared one day and didn’t come home.
For the past week we’ve been taking her outside daily on her cat harness and lead – which luckily for us she enjoys having on. Walking a cat, is not the same as walking a dog – but she does look cute.
However, she now incessantly miaows at the back door and is slowly driving me insane. There’s only one thing for it. I’m going to have to build a catio; an outside cat run for a safe way to let your indoor cats get a bit of sunshine. Now then; where’s the blog for building the world’s greatest (and cheapest) outdoor cat enclosure? Oh google I love you. To be continued…
Rachel (The Cat Whiskerer)
See littlebigcat for a very pro-indoor-cat website with some very pro-outdoor-cat commenting!