Full-time indoor cats are being short-changed on mental stimulation
The trend towards keeping domestic cats indoors full-time, particularly in developed countries where there are predators such as the USA, has introduced an interesting dynamic into the human-to-cat relationship. For me, it questions the motivation for this aspect of cat caregiving. The Infographic below explains what I mean. I don’t want to be critical of humans but I think I have to address the obvious fact that people aren’t doing enough to substitute what domestic cats lose when they are brought inside to their caregiver’s home full-time.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I understand the reasons. But I think we need to be honest with ourselves. The primary reason in my view why people keep their cats indoors full-time (FT) is because they (the person) feels better. They don’t have to be anxious about their cat’s safety. Understandable. That reasoning certainly applied to me when I kept my cat indoors FT for 18 months. I could not sustain it as he broke free of the (expensive) cat confinement fence.
Many cat owners have made their domestic cat a captive animal as if they were in a private zoo whereas once they were free-roaming with all the mental stimulation that brings. And of course, the dangers.
But the domestic cat is not concerned about the dangers. They accept them. Humans are increasingly demonstrating that they are unable to accept those dangers. Fine, but with that attitude comes in added responsibility to introduce into the lives of their cat companions artificially created mental stimulation which is demanding.
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And because it is demanding people don’t have the time or inclination to take action leading to domestic cats becoming increasingly bored stuck in the home.
And it is ironic that there are probably millions of articles on the Internet about the sleepy behavior of domestic cats. Many of these articles exaggerate by saying that domestic cats sleep for 15 or 18 hours a day. They are often referring to full-time indoor cats. Cats who have nothing to do but kill time.
They aren’t sleeping most of the time they are simply curled up snoozing. They might not even be snoozing. They simply empty their head and wait for the next meal (the obesity epidemic springs to mind). I think it’s unfair.
I don’t want to submit my cat to the risks of the outdoors. But this is a major debate and there are two competing forces: entertainment versus danger. Cats are well able to entertain themselves. They do it through hunting. They accept the dangers.
I think perhaps humans need to be more honest with themselves about why they are increasingly confining their cats to the home. They will always say that it is in the interests of the cat to protect them from the dangers encountered outside. But what you won’t hear is an admission that they feel better.
Often people simply want their cat to be nearby decorating the home and entertaining them. That’s the role of the domestic cat. It’s a human-centric role in that the cat serves the human’s needs. But if you place the domestic cat on an equal footing vis-à-vis the human and grant them equal rights to the human as we should do because they are treated as family members, we have to conclude that not enough is being done to make the interior of homes for full-time indoor cats acceptable to them. Jackson Galaxy calls it ‘catification’.
There is at least a need to invest in a catio. And, I would argue that the human caregiver needs to invest their time and energy into training their cat to walk on a lead. And to take their cat for a walk every day on the said lead. That’s the minimum in terms of substituting the loss of an outdoor life with the security of full-time indoor living.
What do you think?