One of the biggest myths that people are buying into right now is that some cats are indoor cats not outdoor cats. My friend adopted a cat here in Ireland from a charity. When they came to her home for an inspection they told her this particular cat can never go outside.
Never to be let out into their garden & taste the dew off the early morning grass she’d love to munch on. Never to feel the midday sun shine directly on her fur as she lay on the earth. Now before I go further, let me set something straight.
This cat was perfectly healthy.
A vibrant young kitten dying to chase the bees and explore her exciting new territory. No health issues whatsoever. To this day I’m still confounded as to why they would impart such advice.
And my friend? It was her first time ever having a cat so she followed their guidance to the letter. I started to explain to her what this would mean to the cat. Sharing a few home truths about who they are as a species and what they need in order to thrive. Relaying her fears about the cats safety if she were to have access to the great outdoors. So you can learn too, here are her key concerns & my answers…
Do outdoor cats get into more fights?
Cats are solitary by nature & as hunters tend to have large territories they roam. However in built up environments like a farm or a city, if there is an abundant food supply cats are quite happy to live together as a family.
For cats that live right next door to each other they have their own way of avoiding injury through fights. To put it simply they time share. As their territories cross over they have communal areas and pathways where cats can pass with impunity.
They try to avoid meeting face to face on these paths, so they mark as they go in order to let other cats know when they were last there and whether the coast is clear. More or less the only cats who fight are adult toms competing for a female. So your neutered male and female cats are less likely to get into a fight.
Are the local birds going to suffer if they hunt?
This is a really big objection that I come across in my work as an animal healer when dealing with stressed out indoor cats. Their humans feel by letting their cat companions outside they’re going to be the reason the local wildlife population dies off.
From the bigger perspective we humans are the greatest danger to all wildlife on this planet. Every time we get into our cars to drive to the post office we emit toxic fumes into the atmosphere where the birds fly. Every time we use Round Up in our garden to kill off the weeds we are destroying the entire food chain for all the plants, insects and animals not just the birds.
When we trim the hedgerows along the roads so our cars can get by this is often done during nesting season just when the birds need the shelter the most. I watch this happen every single year up here where I live in the mountains.
As a race that has wiped out so many species in this century alone maybe we humans just don’t like to see our behaviour reflected back to us from a cat so we keep them inside? I could go on but I think I have made my point.
Don’t indoor cats live longer?
An indoor cat often has stress levels that are just as dangerous to her health and well-being as the perceived threats of an outdoor life. For example one of my cat clients from my animal healing work developed bladder stones.
Otherwise known as struvite crystals at just two years old. Living in a second story apartment in London, the bladder stones eventually built up and blocked his urethra so he couldn’t pee. By the time they realised there was a problem he was full of toxins and very lethargic.
He passed away later that day at the vets. There was nothing they could do for him. I believe physical conditions begin as emotional or mental imbalances. And the emotional picture behind bladder stones? Anxiety & feeling pissed off which is often the emotional state of indoor cats such as my clients vs outdoor cats who are naturally calmer and more enriched.
The other side to this is the mental harm it can cause. When I get a call about a cat that is over grooming the first question I ask is (yes you guessed it!) is the cat confined to the indoors? The answer is 9 times out of 10 yes.
So maybe your kitty won’t develop bladder stones but instead start to quietly shut down to life. And turn their frustrations in on themselves as they pluck their own fur out. Devoid of sensory enrichment and freedom of movement they do this in an attempt to reduce their stress levels.
I don’t claim to have all the answers.
Nor to pass judgement on all indoor cats and why they’re in that living situation. But the fact that indoor cats are fast becoming the norm, despite many of them being in the prime of their life with possible access to a garden, is a huge concern. And I want to give cats a voice & sound the alarm on behalf of the darlings. To balance the scales back a bit in their favour. And encourage you to stop for a minute and think.
Ask yourself how would you feel to be confined to a cement block for the duration of your life? As you look out the window and see all the other humans going about their lives?
I mean it doesn’t take much to imagine what that would be like after we all went into lockdown for two years. The suicide rate sky rocketed here in Ireland during that time. Regularly people who were pushed to that devastating brink were found in the woods down the road from me so I know firsthand the realities of it.
No species of animal is designed to live indoors
We owe it to the animals in our care to act responsibly. And take all factors into consideration not just have this carte blanche rule that seems to be sweeping into our society.
Let’s start with one simple consideration – if you don’t have the right living conditions for a cat or any other animal for that matter, is it fair to bring them into your life? Or is it better to wait until you can provide them with all the things they need as a species to thrive to be their best selves?
Please take the time to put the animals first by deeply considering this before adopting. And do share this blog far & wide if you want to help be a voice for the Feline Nation who are currently denied the freedom to roam.
And if you would like to learn more about the holistic care of animals take a sneak peek at our monthly Animal Gatherings. Where we discuss topics like this and so much more on behalf of the animals as together we become a community informed guardians.