Smother Love meets Cupboard Love

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.

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3 thoughts on “Smother Love meets Cupboard Love

  1. Hahaha – I know the blog, and some of the posts are hilarious! I always thought they must live somewhere incredibly dangerous for cats. But their cats are very overweight – which is probably worse for their health in the long run than getting in the odd cat fight…

    I’ve just got my first cat, a young adult albino rescued from a shelter. She is supposed to stay indoors out of the harsh Australian sun, which suits me perfectly as I live in an apartment. After a month with us, she seems pretty happy! However, I would like her to be able to play in the garden, especially now that winter is coming. I’ve been so nervous about taking her out there for the first time – what if she runs away, and gets lost, or run over, or beaten up by the neighbourhood cat bully?

    Your blog has made me realise I’m being way too over protective! I’m sure the fun she will have in the garden will outweigh any risk. And she has health insurance now! I have resolved to take her outside to explore this coming weekend. Any advice would be welcomed!

    • Cats are so independent. Actually, they’re so dichotomous. They are a wild thing and a total schmoozer all wrapped up in one. I kept all my kittens in until they were 6 months. Because, lets face it, they don’t really have much sense before then. And every first foray was filled with trepidation (for me, not them!) I know that feeling of what if they go over the hedge and never come back. But they all do.
      I’m no expert, but I always kept the first outing very brief and accompanied. AND I made sure kitty had a good appetite before going out. Basically as soon as she hears that dinner gong, she’ll high tail it back to the feeding station.
      If you’re in an apartment, does it have ground floor access? Or are you thinking about a cat ladder? I think knowing how to get home is a big part of the battle. We have a cat flap, but somehow, my two children have become the unofficial doormen for the three cats. It’s so much more civilised to have the door opened for you than to squeeze through the cat flap!
      And sunblock on the ears.
      Good luck – let me know how it goes!

  2. Thanks for the reassurance :) Takeing her outside before she is fed is a fantastic idea! I hadn’t thought of that. I have been hard at work planning her first outing, so that it will be calm and well-prepared. In the meantime, I found out my housemate had taken her out there anyway… :S

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