Sunday, October 28, 2007

Indoors or Outdoors

There is a terrible dilemma for cat lovers and their cats. In a world increasingly more hostile to animals including domestic animals the question is how much freedom do you give your cat?

You want to do right by your cat, but are you? The Cat Fanciers Association make it clear on their website that they recommend Persian cats be kept in all the time. This is to manage the cat's coat to stop it getting too dirty and increasing maintenance demands for the human. This advice may not be such a hardship for the Persian Cat as she is pretty placid.

The Bengal (perhaps the opposite end of the spectrum to a Persian as this breed of cat is very active) likes activity as is the case for wild/domestic hybrids. Cab you justify keeping him in all the time? Yes, you can. For his protection. Bengals like to wander, do things, chase things, get lost, get trapped, get nicked (stolen for our American friends). {picture copyright Helmi Flick}

Yet are you keeping your cat in for you or the cat. The cat remember wants to go out. This brings to mind the "old days". Back in the 1960s or so a lot of people thought nothing of "putting the cat out" at night. It seemed the normal thing to do. I can't see why though. But was it safer for cats back in those days. Probably, yes. Less cars, less traffic, less people, less in the way of exotic type cat breeds too.

To people in the 1960s and 50s a cat meant a Domestic Short Hair (DSH) or DLH (domestic long hair). We didn't think much about breeds although they were about of course. Only there were less breeds then. It seems the 80s onwards brought on a lot of new breeds some very glamorous and expensive.

Anyway, the answer to the question whether your cat should be kept in or allowed to roam can be answered if you ask this question, "what does your cat want, is it good for him and can you accommodate him?" In other words focusing primarily on the cat's interests, yours being secondary.

The answer to the above question will probably result in a compromise; in an ideal world. This means building an enclosure with free access in and out for your cat. The picture if of a cats enclosure build by a Canadian business The Cats Den and is reproduced courtesy the business.

This allows freedom and protection. Your cat can as near as practically possible behave as normally as possible. Most people can't afford this or don't have the space. Although I don't think they are very expensive.

Training your cat to accept a collar and lead is a good idea. I've seen cats in Paris on leads and there are pictures of Bengals on leads on the internet (Bengals are trainable though).

Before we adopt cats we must ask some tough questions. Much like we should ask questions before we have children.

Photograph of Bengal cat copyright Helmi Flick

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