Is it fair to keep cats indoors all the time?
Yes, it can be fair to keep cats indoors all the time. But it will always be a compromise and a less than ideal arrangement.
Keeping cats indoors is safer for the cat. That is obvious. Safety is the first responsibility that falls upon us in our relationship with our cats. It is our responsibility to keep our cats safe as we manage the arrangement; although the arrangement is one of equality.
Our second responsibility is to make the environment for our cat as natural as possible. The indoor environment is unnatural so it is difficult to make it natural. A domestic cat is driven by wildcat instincts, drives and impulses. We need to make sure that we allow our cat the opportunity to satisfy and express those drives.
We can make the indoor environment pretty satisfying for a domestic cat, particularly so as the cat is adaptable.
However, it is not ideal. If we can make things better for our cat in this unnatural environment then we should do it. If we do not act, then the arrangement becomes less than fair.
Where space and funding allows we should consider a cat enclosure or catio to allow our cat to express some of those wildcat desires.
Where time and training allows we should consider leash training to give our cat the chance to go out and smell, hear and see the world that he or she would normally be in.
Where keeping a cat indoors is unfair is if we just ignore our cat from one day to the next in a small home with little interaction from us.
The obligation is on us to compensate for the lack of naturalness in the indoor cat environment and what is a very small territory for the cat. If we do not discharge that obligation it is unfair on the domestic cat.
What do you think?