Friends arguing over how to care for cats

I’ve tried to keep the title very short for search engine optimisation reasons and I hope you understand what I’m trying to get at. In case you haven’t what I mean is this: if two people are longterm friends and they are both cat caregivers and one of them lets their cat(s) outside unsupervised while the other keeps their cat indoors all the time, there can be friction between these people over this fundamental aspect of cat ownership.

And there will be other aspects of cat caregiving which can be a source of friction. It might relate to the number of cats one of them has. Some people think that there should be a restriction on the number of cats people have in the interests of cat welfare.

Friends arguing over how to care for cats!
Friends arguing over how to care for cats!
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

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There are differences of opinion in other areas such as allowing a cat on a kitchen countertop or banning that area of the house to a cat, or allowing a cat to come into the bedroom at night or locking them out or feeding a cat on dry cat food all the time without any variety or variation as opposed to wet and dry plus some treates. All are areas of potential disagreement.

Of the above, letting a cat or cats go outdoors unsupervised is perhaps the most fundamental difference in cat caregiving. It’s very important aspect of cat ownership as it goes to the health of cats in a very big way. It can be the difference between a cat living or dying: dying by a road traffic accident or being attacked by a predator.

American example

Here is an example on the internet today which comes from America (the Michigan Live website) where an agony aunt is advising a woman who says that her friendship with another woman is under great stress over the indoor/outdoor argument. She says that her friend lives in a canyon with lots of wildlife including predators such as coyotes. And her friend had to have her cat’s leg amputated because it was caught in a rabbit snare. Rabbit snares are another source of danger to an indoor/outdoor cat.

She doesn’t understand why her friend allows her cat to go outside unsupervised when her other cat lost a leg because of that method of cat caregiving. Her disgruntlement with her neighbour/friend is made worse because she allows young cats outside at two years of age.

Young cats have less experience and are more likely to get into trouble. Young males are more likely to be killed in a road traffic accident as they wander across the road at night. And they are less likely to be able to defend themselves against a predator like a coyote.

She says: I’m having a hard time with this. I know it’s her cat, but I can’t stand the thought of another one going missing due to this thoughtless behavior. I’m feeling very judgmental/angry, and may not want to stay friends with her.I can’t decide if I should sit by and not judge, or should I bail on the friendship?”

The advice that the agony aunt (Amy) provides is to stay with it and to try and encourage to her to treat her animals differently. And also to tell her that you find her cat caregiving upsetting. In short, she doesn’t really provide an answer to the problem.

ASPCA advice

Amy refers to the ASPCA. They provide clear advice to keep cats indoors. This is what they say: “Please keep your cat indoors. Outdoor cats do not live as long as indoor cats. Outdoor cats are at risk of trauma from cars, or from fights with other cats, raccoons and free-roaming dogs. Coyotes are known to eat cats. Outdoor cats are more likely to become infested with fleas or ticks, as well as contract infectious diseases.” A classic response from a well-known charity.

Of course they are correct. Of course in terms of avoiding injury and death by predators or disappearance by theft, keeping cats indoors full-time is far better.

Missing an important point

But they are missing a very central point of this argument which is that if you keep your cat indoors full-time you have to enrich the environment in which they live and this rarely happens. So the cats become bored. They might eat too much. They don’t exercise enough. They might become obese. Feline obesity is at epidemic proportions in America. And this affects health in numerous ways. You won’t find hard facts about how keeping cats indoors full-time on average shortens lifespan but I think you will find that it does. It’s a counterargument. Not a very good one but one nonetheless.

I’ve always advocated a compromise situation which is to confine cats if possible but to ensure the environment is enriched inside your home and to build a catio if possible or even better a very nice back yard surrounded by a cat confinement fence which is as near as possible 100% guaranteed to keep your cat inside!

In the modern world, that is the best form of cat caregiving I believe.

RELATED: Comparing the amiability of indoor/outdoor cats and full-time indoor cats

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