Cat flaps and dry cat food can undermine the relationship between owner and cat

I am going to propose a theory, which may not be valid but I think it is, concerning the relationship between a cat owner and their domestic cat.

This relationship needs to be intimate and close if both parties are to get the best out of it. There needs to be interaction between the two. This interaction needs to be calm and gentle emanating as it will from a loving bond.

The key, therefore, is that the needs to be an interaction and this needs to be sustained for a close relationship to be formed. There are times when a cat owner and their cat must interact. Two of those times are when the owner feeds their cat and when he/she lets their cat go outside when a door needs to be opened.

In order to be fed a cat will sometimes ask their owner and in order to go outside, if there is no cat flap, a cat will ask their owner. The owner has to respond. In doing so the owner will probably talk to their cat and therefore there is an interaction. One also creates a relationship in which the cat needs the human to do something for him/her. It reinforces the dependency of the cat upon the human. I think this is helpful to the relationship because cats, after all, are domesticated wild cats. That domestication needs to be reinforced.

If a cat owner feeds their cat dry cat food it can be left in a dish all day for the cat to graze on. There needs be no interaction between the two. And, of course, if there is a cat flap, the cat can come in and go out at will with no interaction between human and cat. There is no need for the two to interact. Either cat or human has to positively instigate a human/cat interaction under the circumstances.

If a cat owner is busy or disinterested in the relationship then it can be broken or weakened under the circumstances of dry cat food and a cat flap. This can lead to relinquishment.

Obviously cat flaps are very convenient and the same can be said about dry cat food. It is this convenience in fact which can undermine the relationship, I feel. There has to be some input into the relationship. It cannot be too easy which is why I suggest that there maybe an upside in not having a cat flap if you want to let your cat go outside.

It almost goes without saying that to feed a cat dry cat food permanently is unwise and therefore I would feel quite confident that most people feed their cat wet cat food and in doing so it cannot be left out for a long time because it goes off. This means preparing fresh cat food which means in turn an interaction between cat and human.

8 thoughts on “Cat flaps and dry cat food can undermine the relationship between owner and cat”

  1. Your assessment is pretty good, Michael.
    In the past many, many years, I have had hundreds of cats in my care.
    I’ve never had a cat flap nor fed any completely dry food, not even my ferals.
    I was never wanting a pet of “convenience”.
    I open and close doors and feed as a way we can best know each one. I know their likes/dislikes and maintain control of their outings to ensure that they will be safe. We learn from each other. They know everything about me and they know their own names because we maintain that tight bond.
    There’s work involved when caretaking a cat. The effort is worthwhile.
    It the job seems too tough, then any pet isn’t for you. Even fish and turtle require care.

    • What you are saying exactly fits in with my concept of how to relate to a cat and how the human/cat relationship should work.There is work involved which is a good thing because it helps nurture the relationship. The more convenient it is and the easier it is the more likely it is that the bond will be weaker. Working together and communicating with your cat on a day-to-day even hourly basis really does bring rewards. It is the old adage, the more you put in the more you take out.

    • Yes Dee, even fish and turtles require care. But the return is nowhere near the rewards we reap from a well cared for cat. A healthy cat requires more work than most people realize, and give more in return than many people ever experience.

  2. My cats are fed twice a day-both dry and wet food. They are given treats and we interact as the cat wants. I have 4 deaf ferals and they operate under different rules. When they want interaction and loving, they let me know. And they get all the play and loving they want. Otherwise, if I go to them and they are not in the mood, I withdraw, otherwise there are teeth and claws. I learned many years ago that ferals and domestic cats can and do live comfortably in the same house and can be wonderful friends. Some I have rescued prefer to be more solitary. Mealtimes are the times everyone meets. It has worked well for my cats and me. And I don’t have a cat door-too many predators here.

  3. Michael, I think you’ve come to a very wise correlation, and it makes purrfect sense to me. Of course, if people work long hours, they won’t be home to feed or to let the cat out. I was in that situation before I retired. I left dry food out, and fed wet when I returned home. My indoor outdoor cats had 5 acres to roam on, and ate their share of raw food with geckos, mice and birds.

    I was close to my 2 cats, but not like I am with Mitzy, since I retired. I think it’s because our lives are really inter-connected, and we spend most of the time together. I rarely even leave the house unless she’s sleeping.

    I view her as I would a child, who needs nutritious food, fresh air, play time, cuddling, and above all, safety. Even though it would be more convenient to feed dry, it wouldn’t be nutritious. Would I give a child sugared cereal all day?

    Would I let a child come and go outside at will? Only if they had a safely fenced yard, and even then I’d keep an eye on them. Kids and cats can get into trouble that we could never imagine, until it happens.

    I’d like to see you post your correlation on your Facebook page. I’ll be posting it on my CAT Advocate page and other cat sites for cat guardians to consider.

    • “I think it’s because our lives are really inter-connected, and we spend most of the time together.”

      As you say this is the key to a great relationship with your cat and it is the same for me. We are very close; so close we can “talk” to each other and this is partly because we do things together including letting him outside and calling him back in and so on. A lot of close interaction responding to a cat’s wishes help the relationship.

  4. We don’t have a cat flap and we do feed some dry food however we have treat time where everyone is on the counter eye to eye as well as at least one long session of interactive play daily.
    I do agree with you in theory though. I don’t know why some people have a pet although a cat with a flap and a bowl of food is a cat that has a home.


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