I read an article recently about experts, including animal behaviorists, a professor of psychology, a bioethicist, and others who have studied and written on and about animals and the animal-human relationship, who feel conflicted about letting domestic cats outdoors. Some of them worry that by keeping their cats indoors, they are depriving their cats of the opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness outdoors, to hunt and to feel the breeze in their fur. Of course, by keeping cats indoors, they are also reducing the risks for their cats of injury and death from other animals, motor vehicles, evil people, parasites and diseases. They are also protecting wildlife, like birds, from predation by cats.
I know plenty of people let their cats outdoors. Some of those cats get lost and end up at the Georgia SPCA (pet owners, one word: microchip!!) I have had outdoor cats myself, but now I keep my cats indoors, and I haven’t worried much about frustrating their natural instincts. They are healthy, playful and safe. Weather permitting, I open my windows so they can sit in the window wells, feel the breeze and watch the world go by. When I open my back door, which has a storm door with a screen in it, I even put a kitchen chair in front of the screen to make it easier for them to look outside. Every morning, when I open the inside door to let the dog out, my rescue cat Benedict stands on his hind legs and sniffs the air through the screen, and I tell him, “No, you’re not going out. That’s how you ended up here in the first place.” Benedict came to the Georgia SPCA as a stray, and I would be panic-stricken and heartbroken if one of my cats got out of the house and disappeared. And yes, even though they are indoor-only cats, they are microchipped just in case.
I’ve got a list of “must-haves” for my next house, and one of them is a screened porch, so the cats can spend more time closer to the outdoors. Then I came across this article in the Washington Post, and it put my idea of a screened porch for the cats to shame. Now I have a catio on my must-have list.
How do you feel about cats going outside?
PS: the cat pictured on the left is Praline; Patches is pictured on the lower right, and Francine is the black cat with the white spot (you know what they say about black cats with a white spot, right? The white spot is where the angel kissed it!)