“Fur is flying between two Wakatipu [New Zealand] neighbours in high-end rural Speargrass Flat after a $1000 pet cat was shot dead,” writes reporter Russell Blackstock for Mountain Scene, a web site that focuses on news in rural New Zealand.
He continues: ” Former local property developer Ross Allan says his four kids are distraught because their beloved Abyssinian moggy Fred was killed by famed New Zealand landscape artist Peter Beadle ”
Apparently, Beadle thought the cat was a feral stalking his prized Peking ducks. According to him, he shot “above the cat’s head” to scare it away. But the .22 buckshot hit the kitten (less than a year old) in the stomach! The cat ran home and died a day later.
Allan is searching for justice (and finding none), while Beadle is satisfied with his offer to pay the vet bills.
This case and many others, such as the famed Mary Bale incident, bring me to a very important point: The on-going debate over indoor vs. outdoor for pet cats.
I have written several books and numerous articles on the importance of keeping your cats indoors! There is a reason why I am so persistent in my plight to inform and educate the public on why it is NOT cruel to keep cats indoors, and why it is vital for the cat’s health and well being.
In the Mary Bale case; Yes, what she did was unthinkable; she had no right to toss that poor cat into a garbage bin! It was wrong, it was cruel! However…. If the owners had kept their cat indoors this never would have happened.
It is the same in this case, or in the case of the cat shot by the arrow, and many other cases of animals being subject to human cruelty. If these cats were not outdoor cats, they would not have been hurt, killed or thrown in a garbage bin by a stranger.
I am not saying that nothing can happen to cats kept indoors, because let’s face it, life is full of unexpected mishaps. But, most of all indoor-related accidents are generally preventable. You have more control over your cat’s environment and protection when you keep them indoors.
I have found that strays who were abandoned, abused, dumped or otherwise mistreated in some form, once they come into the house of a caring cat person, have little or no desire to go back outside. Moving a cat from one location to another also seems to curb that need for the outdoors. They know they are safe and they feel more comfortable.
But, you respond, isn’t it natural for a cat to be outside in their own environment? No, and here is why: The outdoors are no longer the cat’s “natural” environment. Just like dogs, we have domesticated them and they rely on us.
Now, I have a horse and board him at whatever facility I can afford at the time, which means we have moved around a bit. Most of your barns have barn cats. I have found little problem with this as long as the cats are fed (it is wrong to assume a cat will hunt more mice if not fed, all it will do is make for a hungry miserable cat), de-wormed (mice and other game that cats eat give the cats parasites such as intestinal worms), de-flea’d (even indoor cats can get fleas, though not as likely unless there’s a pet that goes out and in and is not kept on a de-flea medication such as Frontline) and groomed.
I have run into barn owners who think you just toss a cat or two in the barn and that’s that. They argue that “the cats do just fine.” But how do they know? Most of the time, people like that have so little knowledge of cats, they would not know if the cat was sick until it was too late. Then they would just assume the cat “died of natural causes” when in truth the cat suffered.
My horse’s veterinarian once said to me “cats are fine until they are not.” Truer words couldn’t have been spoken. Cats are stoic creatures that usually show little signs of illness until it has progressed quite a bit. Unless you truly know the signs, you won’t know the cat is ill until it is either near death or extremely ill.
So, back to the subject. Many people assume cats are happier outdoors. At one time, this was the majority thinking and like most of life’s varying attributes, people have a problem with change. Many people stick to the old ways, whether it is in physical life or in their beliefs.
Thus, at one time it was more popular to keep cats outside (or at the least give them the choice of indoors or out), many have held to the notion that this is what’s best for all cats. And nothing could be farther from the truth.
Cats kept indoors DO need a specific environment to keep them at their best. No one is talking about locking them in a dark room and never letting them out here. They need access to sunlight, they need a place to scratch and climb and run and have fun. Think you don’t have room for all of this in your small house or apartment? Think again. Modification is the key and can be accomodated to any size home.
My book, House Cat, has all the information you need on “bringing the outdoors in” for your cat.