There are areas where cats can live indoor/outdoor and have a long healthy life. Santa Clarita is not one of those places. Almost daily I encounter people who claim they are unable to keep their cat indoors. Because the cat is insistent on going outdoors, it’s a given – and the cat is allowed outdoors. Inevitably, these same people will call asking for assistance to find their cat.
When I get that call, my first inclination is to be brutally honest. I want to tell them, “Forget it, your cat’s not coming home. Your cat was eaten by a predator, probably taken by an owl or eaten by a coyote. It was a painful death and extremely frightening for your cat.”
But I don’t. Instead, I make helpful suggestions, such as putting food out, and leaving their garage open just a crack so the kitty can come back in. I also educate them, that most cats will come back in the wee hours of the night and if there is not a way in they will return to hiding again. It’s helpful to set an alarm clock and get up every hour on the hour.
All of this agony is easily avoided by keeping your cat indoors and it’s really not that difficult. If your feline has a hankering to breathe fresh air and bask in the sun, why not set up a catio or an enclosure off your balcony or one of your windows? This will give your pet a safe place to play and rest. How many times do we have to hear stories about how the neighbor saw a coyote run off with a cat in its mouth? How often do we have to hear the sad tales from parents who leave the house with their kids and see kitty lying dead in the street after being hit by a car or torn apart on the lawn from a predator?
There are solutions. People often say, “He was feral as a kitten; he has that instinct so I just can’t keep him inside.”
That is just absolute nonsense. A truly feral kitten is not able to be held and cuddled. This takes, if it is ever to happen, a long time. I’ve heard story after story from people who found kittens and took them. These kittens slept with them and cuddled with them. And here we are, two years later, and they can’t keep the cat in the house. It’s nonsensical to say that the cat’s insistence to want to go outdoors is because he was feral and can’t be kept in. The cat is not the problem. The human became weak, instead of putting forth some effort and discipline like they would with their own child. They decided to just open the door and allow the cat to go out and return at his leisure.
Most pet owners know about the dangers of time outside. To validate the choice to put their pet in danger we often hear, “He goes outside, but he always comes home at night.”
Yes, until that one time he doesn’t, and that is when he has become a meal for a predator. We have a responsibility to keep our pets safe and to protect them, just as we would our children. We are their caregivers and they are dependent upon us for safety and all of their necessities. Find solutions and be a responsible pet owner.
Possibly the worst thing I hear people say after finding out that their cat fell victim to a predator is that the cat had a great life and was loved and loved being outdoors, and that the cat just couldn’t be kept in.”
When people say that, I just want to beg them not to adopt again. A stuffed animal might be a better choice.