This is a short note about cat caregiving. I am concerned at the growing trend to keep domestic cats inside full-time. It is very good in one way: safety from physical injury, usually by motor vehicles but bad in another namely a lack of activity and boredom. Do these two cancel each other out? Overall is it better in terms of health to keep cats indoors? I think a lot ill-health in cats and people stems from inactivity. It is an insidious and silent, slow killer. The human can be a model for the cat in this instance. What we know about benefiting human health can translate to cats very often as we have similar physiologies.
Human activity reduces diabetes
I was encouraged to write this note by a very short report in The Times today. The title is: “Walks help diabetes”. In other words, activity reduces the chances of suffering from diabetes. That’s so important. But it is simply repeating what has often been said before; walking and other low-level activities are good for health particularly when done in nature. People and cats need to connect with nature as it is in their DNA.
We both belong to nature. We come from nature. We have evolved in nature over eons. Bottom line: nature is our roots.
The article I refer to reports on a study from Sunderland University in the UK. It was presented at a Diabetes UK conference. They looked at 32 patients with type 1 diabetes.
They found that ‘regular three-minute walking breaks caused blood sugar levels over a 48-hour period to fall significantly‘. People need to break up long periods of sitting with bit-sized activity.
The benefits were equally applicable to type 2 diabetics.
It points to the advantages of easy-to-do physical activities. Activities help control blood sugar levels. But there are many other benefits.
Sitting too much
Sitting or lying down for too long increases your risk of chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Too much sitting can also be bad for your mental health. Looking at those four walls is a bad idea. Being active is not that hard. There are lots of simple ways to include some physical activity in your day.
General lesson applicable to cats
The same applies to cats. They are programmed to hunt. To be challenged and tested. Force a domestic cat into being inactive by keeping them confined to the home while failing to stimulate them with activities is bad for their physical and mental health.
To do this – and a lot of owners do it – is to fail to discharge one’s responsibilities as a cat caregiver. It is easy to fall into that lifestyle. Cats are just there minding their own business, doing their thing.
They give the impression that they are fine being left alone, sleeping all day because they are bored out of their minds, unchallenged. Cats are adaptable. They cope in a sterile, unstimulating environment by sleeping.
Sleeping – no bored
You see a lot of people proclaiming to the world how much cats sleep; 15 hours even 20 hours a day. I feel for these cats. Cats allowed outside do not sleep 15 hours a day. Anyway, these confined cats are not sleeping. They are killing time by snoozing. Bring out a cat tease and dangle it near them and they’d pounce on it with glee. Something to chase at last.
Many feline health problems are created insidiously through less than adequate caregiving. People are unaware of what they are doing. I don’t want to be critical as most cat owners do their best for their cats. They are genuine in their intentions. A lot of high-profile cat people fail in this regard.
I won’t mention names but I have seen well-known people in the cat world fail their cats by letting them lounge around all day doing nothing as they are held captive in the home.
Boredom and stress
Boredom and being left alone for long periods equals stress and stress causes ill-health or exacerbates health problems. I understand the difficulties. People want to live with a cat and they have to work all day too. You see, I don’t see that as a viable way of looking after a cat. I should know as I have done it myself. And my cat suffered. I am ashamed of it.
Fail by many
I don’t think that single people living in apartments with a cat and working all day are doing anywhere near enough in terms of cat caregiving. It is a failure for me. And I know I am being hard. But that is the truth of it.
There is a mistaken belief by many that cats like to do nothing. Just decorate the home. Wrong. In their heads they are all wildcats in North Africa, wandering the arid plains of that challenging landscape.
Humans need to recreate it artificially to rejuvenate their raw cat mojo as Jackson puts it. Trigger their mojo and you improve their health.
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