Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Great Cat Debate: Should They Be Let Outdoors?

Dear Tazi:

My wife and I are having an argument about "Tussler", our tomcat. I think a cat should be allowed to go outside and do things that cats like to do - chase mice, nap in the sun, prowl, and meet up with other cats to do whatever it is that cats do when nobody is watching.

My wife thinks that I am just trying to think of an excuse to get rid of the litter-box, and that forcing Tussler to go outside will result in him doing his business out there, too. She feels that Tussler should be an indoor cat, arguing that indoor cats live longer and need fewer trips to the vet. I say that while this is true, what cat would want to live longer if it is being kept a prisoner inside the house?

I will admit that not having to clean the cat box would be nice, but it's not my motive for wanting to install a pet door for Tussler. I just think that the poor cat is miserable being forced to stay indoors. We live in a safe, suburban neighborhood where people drive slow and keep their dogs leashed. There are no wild animals that would attack Tussler, and the birds have feeders and houses that are well out of his reach. What is your opinion, Tazi? Is my wife turning Tussler into a wimp or am I being too much of a forward thinker?

Tussler's Dad

Dear Tussler's Dad:

With a name like Tussler, I am guessing that your tomcat is quite the bruiser! I know I wouldn't want to mess with him! My one concern here is that Tussler might try to bully the other cats in the neighborhood (and maybe even some of the dogs).

While your wife is correct that indoor cats live longer and need fewer shots and trips to the vet, the in vs. out preference should be decided by Tussler. While I prefer to be indoors, occasionally stepping out with my lady friend, not all cats prefer this lifestyle. My predecessor, Koko, was an outdoor cat, refusing to come in for dark of night or pouring rain! Eventually, he moved outside on a permanent basis, and Mommie went and adopted me!

If Tussler prefers to spend time outside, your wife will have to acquiesce to this preference or deal with a very unhappy kitty (and the knowledge that unhappy kitties tend to destroy stuff). Before allowing Tussler outside, though, make sure that he has all the necessary shots and take a stroll through the neighborhood, too, to make sure that Tussler will not be a threat to other animals or be threatened by them. Since you will be installing a pet door for Tussler you will need to make sure that he understands how to use it, that the door is both a way into the house as well as out of it, and you will have to be able to lock it for when you do not want Tussler outside. Owning an indoor/outdoor cat is a lot of responsibility - more so than having to clean a litter-box three times a week! If you are ready to take on these extra responsibilities, and Tussler truly wants to leave the house, I see no reason to hold him as a prisoner of your love for him.


P.S. Do you really not know what cats do when no one else is around? Here's a glimpse...

But not all of us look as good as Tim Curry in Spandex

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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