Fluffy & the Hunt for the Truth
If you have ever observed a cat stalking a bird in your backyard, you may feel as if you are witnessing a wild lion, Fluffy the Maine Coon, methodically hunting his prey, tracking their every movement, targeting their weaknesses.
If you have ever observed an indoor cat, you will know that Fluffy will also react this way to a dangling string, a crumpled ball of paper, and his owner’s feet.
When a cat owner is challenged on their belief to allow a pet to range freely, often their response is to explain their own understanding of feline psychology - the drive to hunt is evidence of their ancestral lineage. They site biological inclinations to hunt as instincts that harken back to a time when big cats killed for every meal; back to a time when humans were not there to crack open a can of food three times a day.
These dutiful cat owners insist that Fluffy must be allowed to roam the neighborhood, killing wild animals for sport, contracting diseases, and being vulnerable to human, animal, or vehicle predation. They fear the pitfalls of indoor life, they are afraid that if not set free to roam, their animal will die of boredom, never learn to use a litter box, and find ways to escape on their own, anyway.
It can be argued that allowing a cat to have free range of the outdoor environment is actually the inhumane choice over keeping a cat indoors. If remaining in the home, cats are protected from threats to their safety and better assessed by their owner for any arising health or behavioral concerns.
The uncomfortable truth that any new or old pet parent must face is accepting that the welfare of their pet is completely in their hands.
If a cat parent allows Fluffy to go outside and he has a run in with another animal resulting in injury, the parent is responsible.
If a cat parent allows Fluffy to go outside and he brings a dead mouse back inside with him, the cat parent is responsible for that death.
If a cat parent does not enrich the life of their animal through play, the cat parent is solely responsible for that animal’s boredom and any behavioral consequences that arise from that deficiency. Cats can have just as fulfilling a life indoors as they do outdoors, but it takes more work on behalf of the owner.
Cat ownership is prevalent in United States culture with 22.4% of Millennials preferring companionship from felines over dogs or even other humans. While the overwhelming number of cats in shelters may inspire someone with dispensable financial means to adopt, it is important for that person to assess if they have enough time to dedicate to a new cat. It is not up to the outside world to look after the welfare of anyone’s pet.
On this Global Cat Day, October 16, and every other day of the year, consider the welfare of your own, or future, cat friend. Cat companionship is not a right, but a relationship that requires great effort, just as any other human relationship does. Recognize that you are solely responsible for not only Fluffy, but the wild animals that Fluffy will prey upon if allowed to roam free.