A British animal rescue organisation, which I can’t name today, insists that cats adopted from them are allowed to roam outside entirely freely. On what I have heard first hand, it makes no difference if you live in London or if you live in a place where there are many other dangers for a cat.
And it also appears to make no difference if your cat is 4 months of age, still not fully socialised and not fully grown despite the fact there are unneutered toms, foxes and dogs in the area. Of course, there is always the possibility of being run over even if the road is 400 yards away.
I have discovered that where I live there have been a number of attacks by an unneutered tomcat on other cats including my late and loved Charlie. A neighbour has lost two cats. In the past, many years ago I have lost a cat on the road, which has altered my views. I think a cat caretaker has to experience that to fully understand the potential dangers to free-roaming cats in urban areas in England. This is not a criticism of people who allow their cat to roam because each owner makes their own decisions and those decisions should be respected.
The rescue organisation’s spokeswoman told me that if they’d known my plans for Gabriel, they wouldn’t have allowed me to adopt him. This was deeply upsetting to me. I was his foster carer when he first came to me at about 6 weeks of age. He was semi-feral. It took countless hours of play and interaction to socialise him. I achieved a lot and praise from the rescue organisation. In fact my cat is better socialised than his sister who is being cared from by the organisation’s senior employee. However, he is still not fully socialised and he may never be fully socialised in the way we would like cats to be (relaxed with anyone and other animals).
Because of the genuine dangers for a cat where I live, despite the wonderful and extensive grounds, I plan to keep my cat inside until he is a few months older and thereafter, leash train him (if possible) and simultaneously build a decent sized mobile-enclosure outside in the back garden until I can move to a house with a good sized enclosed garden (quarter acre). That is what I consider to be a thoughtful plan with cat welfare uppermost in my mind at my expense.
I have plans to move to the country in the summer where I can ensure my cat has a good-sized, safe outside space. If the area where I buy is obviously safe for a cat and if my cat behaves in a way which reassures me that he will be as safe as possible, I’ll let him wander outside but even then I will supervise to a certain extent.
All this is unacceptable to the rescue organisation. They simply insist on free-roaming outside cats. For me this is a ridiculous policy which lacks refinement. Whether a cat is allowed free access to the outside depends on where the cat lives. That is obvious but from the organisation’s spokeswoman’s perspective “accidents happen” and even if Gabriel were to be killed roaming outside within the first 6 months this is preferable, according to her, than doing what I plan to do. That cannot be correct and tens of millions of Americans would agree with me.
In addition, provided the adopter complies with the contract (and I have) the organisation have no right to lecture a cat caretaker/guardian on day to day cat care after the adoption has taken place.
They have the responsibility to make a decision on adoption at the time of the adoption. They can’t go back on that. There are no rights to do that under the contract.
So, having had a nasty experience at the hands of what I consider to be a strident, argumentative and even bullying spokesperson for the animal rescue organisation, I am deeply despondent. It has undermined the whole foster/adoption process and even my relationship with my cat.
I realise that many people will say I am being overly protective but each cat guardian must make their own decisions based on the circumstances that they face. Provided the decisions are well thought through and respect for the cat respect and the cat’s welfare are a priority, they should be accepted.
The photo, taken today by me, is of Gabriel.