I was reading a rather amusing blog recently. It was done in a tongue in cheek preacher style from the point of view of a domestic cat. It was a really nice concept, nicely illustrated with pics of the cat in question and very well observed. However, I realised after reading a few posts that the cat and his two siblings are not allowed any actual freedom. Now, I realise this is probably going to open up a whole can of worms, but here goes. It is quite clear that the blogger realllllly loves her cats, to the extent that she thinks that it is morally wrong to let the cat go outdoors without some form of protection, and she gave examples such as leashes, carriers or enclosures.
I love my cats. And I’m pretty sure as cat-love goes, they love me too. (Mojo has just jumped on the keyboard, sorry for any typos in this section). But while I want to ensure that they are happy and healthy, and will do as much as I can to make that possible, I just don’t think I could do that to the extent where they were never allowed to leave the house unsupervised.
Am I alone here? Is it right or wrong to keep what is ostensibly a wild animal with a thin veneer of domesticity imprisoned in an attempt to prolong a life confined to house arrest?
I’ve also got children. And while I give them the protection that they need at a young age, I feel that it is my obligation to gradually expose them to the notion of freedom and responsibility for oneself. Same goes for kittens. If I wrapped them in cotton wool for the rest of their lives, who would I be helping?
I wonder if the kind of smother love that the blogger was describing was a (possibly sub-conscious) way of self-preservation rather than cat-preservation. After all, we do suffer terribly when we lose a pet. So maybe, this idea of trying to eliminate all risk from the cat’s life is an attempt to avoid that inevitable loss. We do try to avoid pain. But somehow, this seems to be at the risk of reducing the quality of life of the creature the blogger professes to love? And there’s an evangelical quality about it too – there is clearly a belief that ALL domestic cats should be kept in such ‘safe conditions’. Examples of cats going about their business – gasp, shock! – WITHOUT a harness!!! – are held up as sinful and irresponsible behaviour on the part of the people in question.
Look, I worry about my cats. I worry about my kids. I worry about my husband when he has a long drive to go on and I’m reasonably sure he’ll do it as close to the speed limit as he can. But it’s not going to change anything, is it? I can’t (and definitely wouldn’t want to!) keep them in the house all the time. And I’m sure that the blogger would argue that the cat could be attacked by dogs, run over by cars or catch something nasty from another cat. Ya know what? All of those things and much worse happen to people everyday. But we still let them out!
It takes all sorts, I guess. And I have to confess that we bought a house in a cul de sac because there is less traffic, making it safer. But I like to think that my cats – and in time, my children – will go out, do their thing, and then come back because this is a place that they see as their home, not their prison.