Thoughts for Thursday – The Inside Cat Versus the Outside Cat Controversy

lilyalyzayfeb2010-015There are many types of human-cat relationships. While some of us pamper our cats and even personify them, others let their cats be cats and roam to their heart’s content. Most household cats are a blend of both. They have the comfort of a home when they want to curl up in a cozy bed and dine on gourmet cat food and they also have the freedom of the out-of-doors where they can express their wild side.

I’ve had inside-outside cats. After one found gopher poison and one was probably taken by a coyote, I changed my ways. All of my cats for the last twenty years have been indoor cats. Well, except for Dinah.

We adopted Dinah when she was almost full grown. While she loved being inside (that’s dinah-dummyher sitting on the dummy’s lap), she absolutely had to have time outdoors. Dinah never ever, to my knowledge, used a litter box. She held herself until someone was awake or came home to let her out. She’d even go out in the rain to do her business. She’d complain, as if telling us to make the rain stop, but she’d go out lickety split, do her job and race back in through the door, which we always held open for her.

3 catsIMG_1977Katy, our Himalayan, had a fascination with the out-of-doors as she got older. It could have been simply that she wanted to be with me when I was gardening. Eventually, I started letting her out when I was in the yard to watch her. She didn’t go anywhere. All she wanted was to lay in a sunny spot and watch me work—maybe chase a butterfly now and then. I always left a door open in case something frightened her. I knew that the house was her safe zone and I wanted it available to her.

I wonder what Lily would do if she were allowed outside. She has always lived indoors and

Peeek-a-Boo

Peeek-a-Boo

she doesn’t appear to be missing anything—longing for anything. If she had occasion to go out, she’d probably rush back inside as soon as she realized there is no kitchen out there. Her life revolves around food and water. If she were forced outside, I could see her scouting around to find where other outside cats (and maybe dogs) are fed. She’d learn their feeding schedule and start standing in line with them to be fed. I could see her visiting the Maine coon next door at meal time, then trotting across the street where a couple of outdoor cats are fed. She’d probably soon discover neighbors with a heart for a pretty tabby who sat sweetly on their porch looking hungry.

Have you ever had a cat show up regularly at your door for a meal? Some years ago, we started seeing a big yellow cat in our yard. Eventually, we offered him lunch and he’d come back again and again. Finally he showed up with a sticky note on his head that said, “I belong to Tyler, don’t feed me.”

Coming around to see what all the fuss is about

Coming around to see what all the fuss is about

I’ve told you about my mother’s cat, Smokey. He’s my model for Rags, the star of my Klepto Cat Mystery series. Well, he’s one cat who, even as a kitten, could not be convinced to stay inside. He loves the comfort of the home, but he also has to explore the great outdoors. It’s in his DNA.

About five years ago, another cat started showing up at my mother’s back door at meal time. He had a collar and tag, so we found out his name is Gibbs and he lives in the neighborhood. When we talked to his owner, we learned that Mama isn’t the only one who feeds this cat. He’s trim—almost to the point of being too thin, despite the fact that he eats every day at my mother’s house and at least three or four other homes on the block. I suppose his family tried to keep him inside, too.

Do you have inside cats? Outside cats? A mix of both? Or is yours an inside/outside kitty? How’s it working out for you? Have you ever changed the ways of an outside cat—brought him inside to live? Was it a difficult transition? When we adopted Sophie, she was ten-weeks old. She’d been living with other cats in an overgrowth of ice plant. One day,  a kind lady, who was concerned about her, trapped her and took her to the nearest veterinarian. Despite the fact that she was frightened and seemed a little wild, we learned about her, visited her, and brought her home. We hoped to acclimate her to the indoors. She must have been so thankful to be saved from the elements as she’s never once tried to go back outside. She’s been a purrfect indoor cat. So I guess you can change a cat’s stripes.

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