Full-time indoor cats are a growing trend. Domestic cats are thankfully flexible about the amount of space they feel that they need. In contrast the captive wild cats in zoos tend to pace due to boredom and the fact that the amount of space available is a tiny fraction of what they inherently desire. Bears also tend to pace in zoos.
But domestic cats do not pace inside their owner’s home! That reveals what I have stated. They accept restrictions to the amount of space available even when it is a fraction of their normal home range.
But if you brought a true feral cat home and confined them to a room or the home, they’d be incredibly distressed and try and escape. They’d show signs of stress such as urinating and defecating to mark territory and overgroom to try and calm themselves. They would not pace though.
The same could be said about stray cats who’ve been rescued. The point is that the domestic cat can only just accept the confinement of the full-time indoor life.
They can become distressed. My neighbour has a distressed full-time indoor cat. She goes outside to the catio every morning and cries. I hear the words, “Let me out!” One day she’ll give up and stop crying as there is no one to free her.
But in order to facilitate a domestic cat’s acceptance of reduced space it is probably wise where appropriate to select a cat for indoor life from a kitten who has never known the outdoors. They won’t miss what they never had.
I remember Joe Exotic in America, the former owner of America’s largest private zoo saying that it was okay to keep tigers in cages as they didn’t know anything else. I disagreed with him because the huge amount of space that a tiger usually enjoys in the wild is hard-wired into his/her brain. It is in their DNA and as such it is inherited. This does not apply to domestic cats due to thousands of years of domestication.
The domestic cat is different because of 10,000 years of domestication which has conditioned them to losing some of their hunting skills as well. Some domestic cats lack interest in hunting.
But everything I have said about the domestic cat is subject to the individual cat’s character. There are great differences in character between cats. Some will be better suited to an indoor life.
Also, we hear of servals being kept as pets in the United States. The serval is a lanky, mid-sized wild cat which is predisposed to being tamed and somewhat domesticated but they never settle into indoor life. How can they? The amount of space available to them in the wild in Africa is perhaps 30 square kilometers. That’s why we hear of servals escaping homes quite a lot and subsequently being killed perhaps shot because the neighbours were terrified.
The caracal is another medium-sized wild cat predisposed to being tamed. They can be pets too. When you hear what the owners say about keeping a caracal as a pet you feel sorry for them. It must be agony. Caracals are strong and inherently wild. They’ll urinate and mark territory and the sounds they make can be intimidating. There is no way that it can be comfortable and comforting living with either the serval or caracal.
Zoos like to challenge wild cats when feeding them as it helps to alleviate boredom and it is more natural. Wild cats are also hard-wired to chase and catch their food. In the interests of alleviating the boredom of confined domestic cats it is advisable to challenge them too when feeding them. What about a puzzle feeder?
My neighbour has ten indoor cats and her home has not been modified to make their confined life more natural and therefore enjoyable. Shame on her for that neglect. It is hardly surprising that one of her cats cries to be rescued from a foul-smelling type of feline hell.
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