As time moves along and cats become increasingly integrated into our society and families, more and more people are keeping their precious felines strictly indoors. Yet many still believe cats are aloof and free-natured and need to be allowed their “freedom.”
As the story on top of details, cats do indeed possess many of the instincts passed to them through thousands of years of feline heritage. They still love the chase and the catch. Instincts can also lead them to shelter when the weather is poor or to water when they are thirsty, and often, with very advanced olfactory nerves, to food when they need it. Yet most of these are basic instincts just about every animal possesses, whether wild or domesticated. Even humans possess them to some degree.
But those terribly instincts that were meant to save lots of and aid cats within the wild can prove deadly under certain circumstances. The cats who evolved into our domesticated feline did not have cars to contend with or antifreeze left on driveways that can poison them. Their instincts facilitate them avoid natural dangers, not the ones we make, and despite their seemingly aloof nature, most cats in the wild do not live alone. Even feral cats live in colonies; there’s safety in numbers and cats instinctively know this.
However, when you let Puss out to go and roam the neighborhood, she is alone. Other cats United Nations agency weren’t raised in her territory square measure seen as a threat. Fights can cause terrible wounds and infection. Most cats have little or no awareness of the peril of a moving vehicle. And though cars are the most common reason outdoor cats lose their lives, other dangers exist as well. Even in rural areas where there are few cars, potential peril dwells.
At one time it was unheard of to even so much as mention keeping a cat strictly indoors. People mumbled that it was cruel or inhumane to keep an animal with such a wild nature “locked away.”
Fortunately, this outlook is waning in popularity. According to a 1996 national survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, two-thirds of all cat owners keep their cats indoors all the time. The number of cats unbroken solely inside has adult throughout the years, and as the population rises and lifestyles become faster, this number should continue to rise.
But are cats happy staying indoors? That is the question posed most often. And the answer is that it depends on the cat and her circumstance and surroundings, as well as other factors such as her upbringing, personality, and acclimation to the world within walls.
I won’t lie to you. I have seen cats whose lives have the benefit of living outdoors. For example, Yappy is a beautiful tabby-and-white cat who lives at the stable where I board my horse. The stable well to do the road and hundreds of acres of land surround it. Yet Yappy rarely strays far from the barn. He has learned to avoid horses’ hooves (just as, yes, some cats do learn to avoid cars) and he loves all the people and attention he receives. He reminds me quite a bit of Gillie, whose story I told in the Introduction of this book. Yappy spends most of his time sleeping on hay bales inside the indoor riding ring, but he also craves attention. Anyone who sits to watch the riders invariably finds Yappy in their lap, purring and kneading. With all that land and freedom, he prefers indoors, the people, and particularly, the laps. But cats who live with such freedom and remain safe are the exception rather than the rule.
There’s a large idea that keeping a cat within is ludicrous, even cruel. This belief leads to the notion that the quality of an indoor cat’s life is diminished. But the truth is that if a cat is raised in a proper indoor environment, she can very well enjoy both quality and quantity of life.
A comfortable indoor environment can be created for just about
any cat. There is little the outdoors has to offer a cat that cannot be
satisfactorily simulated indoors. Sunshine can be brought in through
windows, window perches, and outdoor enclosures.
Cats can be just as happy chasing catnip mice and interactive cat toys
as they can real mice and birds (and they cannot contract parasites and diseases from toys). Cat trees are just as satisfying to a cat as real trees, and cats don’t need the kind of room to run that dogs do. Being short-distance sprinters by design, cats get plenty of exercise running from room to room.
The notion that an indoor cat is “locked up,” as if the animal were kept in a prison, is completely false. The cat does not see it this way, particularly a cat who has been raised indoors her entire life. The belief that an indoor cat “suffers” likens the complexity of a cat’s mind to the complexity of a human’s, and it’s not an accurate comparison. Watch your indoor cat gazing outside at the birds and squirrels, tail flicking, eyes wide. It may seem as if the cat is frustrated at not being allowed out. But to the cat, the window is like a television screen where she can sit and watch a fascinating “movie.”
Cats spend three-quarters of their lives asleep, and often owners of outdoor cats confuse the contentment of an indoor cat’s slumber with boredom. Because they do not see their outdoor cat’s activities as often, they do not realize their outdoor cat is most likely curled up under a tree somewhere, taking the same catnap she would if she were indoors.
Our cats are no longer wild animals. Humans domesticated cats thousands of years ago. Despite their independence, cats need humans to protect them from dangers. Most of these dangers were created by humans, and now that cats live with us in our world, it’s our responsibility to see to their safety.