Thursday, September 18, 2008

Comment Inspired Post

This post was inspired by a comment I received on the photographs of Greebo finally venturing a little way out onto the balcony:

Anonymous asked: How do you manage to keep them on the balcony and not try make a break for grassy freedom? I have a cat who is currently an outdoors kitty but in a few months we moving to USA and he will have to be indoors permanently, am incredibly worried about the strain on his little kitty world. Any words of advice?

Well, Anonymous… I have two advantages- firstly, the balcony my furry masters have access to, is on the first floor and quite high above the pool and the garden (although I have personally seen cats jump from the first floor to a garden in the block of flats I lived in previously), and secondly- my boys have always been indoor cats.
Quite frankly- they dunno what grass is and refuse to touch it if they are outside for some reason. It's rather comical to watch as they will sit at the edge of the paving and sniff the grass- but go no further!
I am biased, I know, but my boys being indoor cats means they are healthier and safer, and I know them REALLY well. I also know where they are all the time… I am way too paranoid to let my boys go outside and not know where they are. I would go berserk if one of them didn't come home for a while!
I am also much happier with them staying indoors as they spend their time with me and with each other. Taxi especially goes wherever I go. Even into the bathroom- opening the door if I've closed it!
I also have another very good reason to keep them in- Taxi was diagnosed a few months ago with FeLV (feline leukaemia virus) and it can be transmitted to other cats through fighting and playing. Greebo luckily seems immune to it so far, possibly because he and Taxi have grown up together… but Taxi can infect other cats as well as pick illnesses up faster as the virus attacks the immune system, a lot like FIV does (hence the link to leukaemia).
So keeping them indoors I have several advantages over furbabies that wander.
For example, if one of them is sick, I notice straight away because their litter-box… erm… contents change. And because cats typically don't let you know they're unwell until they're practically at death's door, any change in their physical state shows up in the litter-box first!
I can also immediately see if one of my furbabies isn't eating as the only food they get is what I provide. They do not hunt to supplement their diet in any way, so a full bowl is usually a bad sign.
Both my boys are also trained to a harness and leash, so if they do need to go somewhere, like to the vet, or if I want to take them to do a little exploring- it's on a leash only. Cats can be trained just like dogs- I used reward training- they just aren't as quick to demonstrate what they've learned as dogs are.
Keeping them indoors may seem mean… and a lot of people have told me I'm doing my cats an injustice- but they've never known anything else!
My advice… see it from a feline point of view not a human one. 80% of the worlds pet cats are indoor cats and they are perfectly happy and healthy.
Indoor cats usually are healthier and live longer than cats who are allowed to wander.
And if you really want them to be able to go out, train them to a harness and leash (a collar will come off very quickly).

my boys going for a stroll (Taxi always in blue and Greebo always in yellow)
Good luck!