August 5, 2012

Cat News, Sad and Happy

To say it in the ripping-off-a-bandage style, our cat Feather was recently hit by a car and killed. We got a call early one morning from someone who found her and got our number off her collar, and if I were deputized to dish out blessings I would dish them out all over her, because she went out of her way to do it and saved us significant missing-cat distress. And speaking of distress, I had to go fetch Feather using a snow shovel and a towel, and I don't want to talk about it anymore except to say I now have a much more positive outlook on peaceful vet's-office euthanizations.

This is our third cat total who has been hit by a car (two fatally, one non-fatally but with an injury that led to euthanization), so we are switching to indoor-only cats; our street is evidently too busy. Have you noticed that different regions have different opinions about whether cats should be indoors or indoors/outdoors? In one of the areas where we used to live, it was considered Serious Deliberate Animal Abuse to let a cat go outdoors. In our current area, the outdoors is considered part of The Natural Realm of the Cat, even by animal shelters and vets. So this switch is a big deal here---like deciding to have a relative committed to a home.

Happily, our recent orange-cat acquisition was an indoors-only cat when he came to us. And at that time we were still reeling from Benchley's death and already planning to transition to indoors-only cats as soon as Feather (a dyed-in-the-fur indoors/outdoors cat) was...er, no longer with us. And so we hadn't let him out, so he's already all set for the new policy.

And yesterday we acquired a second indoors-only cat, a 2-year-old male who seems very laid-back and we hope he will get along with Orange Cat. Right now they are in the sniff-and-hiss stage, but neither of them is freaking out---it's more like the usual bow-and-shake-paws formal introductory hissing.

We specifically chose a cat who had reached adulthood while always living indoors. And we chose a laid-back cat rather than a bold adventurer, in the hopes that he will be happy and calm restricted to indoors life. I do feel sorry for them, not getting to climb trees and roll in grass/dirt and bask on the driveway the way our other cats did/loved. But I also feel relieved on various matters from rodent/bird issues to neighbor issues to danger issues. As Elizabeth said to me just now, "I'm glad we got another indoor cat. There's not as much worrying to do."

45 comments:

HereWeGoAJen said...

I have lived in both kinds of cat regions. And it really is interesting. Right now, we live in the outdoor cat realm. Our cat was switched from outdoor to indoor when we moved from California to Texas and she then lived another fifteen years or so.

I'm sorry about Feather. And yes, bless that woman.

Miz S said...

Oh, poor kitty. And poor you with the snow shovel and the towel.

Well done (imo), making the switch to indoor only. People feel passionately about it on one side or the other. But there's no arguing with the fact that indoor cats are not subject to the many hazards that exist outside our homes. My family's cats are all indoor guys and they seem as happy as could be.

d e v a n said...

OH my gosh, your new cat is one of my cat's (Pip) TWINS! Sorry about Feather :(
We live in an area that's split. Some people think it's cruel to keep them in and some people think it's cruel to let them out. I waver between the two (since I think it depends on the cat and situation) but after our last 2 cats met an untimely death, we decided on inside only cats again too.

Charleen said...

I'm so sorry about Feather. I know how hard it is to say goodbye to a pet, especially when it's so sudden and unexpected.

I am far too much of a worrier to have outdoor cats.

Slauditory said...

Elizabeth's comment is heartbreaking...a child worrying about death. :(

I am sorry that you lost your cat. Losing beings you love is so hard.

missris said...

Aww Swistle I'm so sorry for your poor kitty. People like that restore my faith in humanity though. My parents have an inside cat for that very reason and she is blissfully happy. She watches the hummingbird feeder in the backyard from the picture window, which my mom calls "cat tv."

ccr in MA said...

I'm so sorry about Feather! Best of luck with the new cat integration. Indoor cats can lead wonderful happy lives too, and yes, less worrying.

Heather said...

I have indoor-outdoor cats. Next year the laws change so we must register them and have them inside by dark so we've been dragging them inside kicking and screaming at 4:30pm each day.

We have suffered a broken leg but nothing more major.

To keep them away from the front yard, I opened the door and let the neighbour's dog walk up and yap at them. Now they sit at the door and wait for me if they're inside, but they WONT go outside it-forget that!!!

alice said...

Oh, Swistle - I'm so sorry about Feather. We transitioned to indoor-only, and our cats have been much more OK with it than we'd expected - I think that having 2 cats who've only ever done that will make it easier on you as well.

lillowen said...

Oh, that is so sad about Feather! But the new cat looks lovely. Does he have a name yet?

We have only ever had indoor cats. I'm not sure what the environment is like here for outdoor cats, but even if it was relatively safe, I don't think I could handle the worry. Bless that woman for calling you and sparing you some sleepless nights.

Julie said...

What is so strange is that I dreamt last night that I had to rehome my youngest cat because my older cat was being mean to her, and I was trying to convince you to take her because she's good with dogs, cats, AND kids! (Note: our cats get along fine; youngest cat is territorial around very young children.)

We used to have indoor and outdoor, and we've transtioned to all-indoor as well. Much less worrying.

I'm so sorry about Feather.

Jenny said...

I'm so sorry, Swistle.

moojoose said...

On the indoor/outdoor thing, we've found that our indoors only cat has done quite well to be let out into the fenced backyard at our new house, first with supervision and now alone. Since she's been indoors her whole life, she's not clever enough to try and jump and the fence, and just goes out to sniff around and eat enough grass to get a good hurl on when she comes back in. If you have a fenced yard, you might try it out to relieve yourself of some of the guilt.

BusyMomofTwins said...

The indoor/outdoor cat debate is one that has long been waged in my area. I have had indoor cats since University when my prescious Alex the Great was poisoned with antifreeze by a neighbor. While the neighbor was charged with animal cruelty nothing replaced my cat. So, I vowed to keep them indoors. It can be hard, but the piece of mind is definitely worth it in my opinion.

Swistle said...

Julie- Oh, Dream Swistle TOTALLY should have taken that cat!

Swistle said...

lillowen- Oh! That reminds me, I have a good story about his name! (He's not named yet, but...well, I'll do another post about the story!)

The Mama Beth said...

Oh, I am sorry to hear about Feather.

We live in Arizona-the high mountain desert part of it-so we are in the indoors only camp. Both cats will escape given the chance, one stays in the yard (too fat to jump over the fence) but the other will wander far if given the opportunity. Luckily he's only been given the opportunity once, and he came home safe. Now we have a herding dog who does quite a good job with the cats, and when one escapes I am alerted right away. I threaten every time to just leave them out there when they dash out on me, but we have too many predators they just wouldn't have a chance overnight outside.

Swistle said...

The Mama Beth- THAT IS TOO CUTE. I NEED A HERDING DOG RIGHT NOW.

Joanne said...

I am so sorry about Feather and so grateful to that person for calling you! You are a brave person, that cleanup must have been awful. I used to live in an area where cats were mostly inside/outside and I think I still do but we never let our cat outside once we moved here. I was mostly afraid she'd try and go to our former home, 700 miles away. Once I moved her inside, I agree with Elizabeth, there was so much less worrying to do - not just about danger from cars, but getting sprayed by skunks, getting fleas, and getting into fights with raccoons or coyotes. I hope your new cat will be so happy, and you all too.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Oh Swistle, I am so very sorry to hear about Feather! I grew up in the country, so we had dozens of barn cats and they weren't expected to, well, LAST. But it was still awful, every time, to LOSE one. And so I am a firmly Indoor Always person. (Not that I have a cat. But if I DID...) I am very glad you acquired a new cat. I hope he and orange cat live a long, happy life together.

Slim said...

I am sorry about Feather, but glad you've got a new purr machine to keep you company.

Christine said...

So sorry to hear about Feather, Swistle!

Our cat has always been indoor only, but we adopted him as an adult and he's pretty scared of going outdoors, but weirdly is okay with giving me a heart attack by going out on our 2nd floor balcony and hopping onto our neighbor's roofs. We had a stray that we took in as a foster for a while and she would aways try to and occasionally successfully escape. She was under a year and since she was probably born outdoors it didn't bother me but I tried not to encourage it. I ended up having her placed though the shelter I was volunteering for, so I'm not sure what her adopters were like or if she's indoor/outdoor now. 20

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about your kitty.
I agree that keeping them indoors is safer both for them and the native wildlife (outdoor dogs & cats are the greatest danger to birds & small mammals). Maybe the kids could help brainstorm ways to keep the indoors entertaining for the kitties (things to climb on, play with, etc.).

Snoopyfan said...

So sorry about Feather! Bless that woman who called you though, that was amazing.

We have always had only indoor cats and they are none the wiser to what they are missing. All they really need is food, water, little box and love.

Emily said...

Poor Feather. New Cat is so pretty!

Clarabella said...

I'm sorry about Feather. I think cats love to spend time outside, & I tend to get more angry at careless drivers than think we as owners should worry more, but still...you're right that you'll have to worry less. Can't wait to hear his name.

Kate said...

I live in an indoor cat only area and didn't realize there were even different schools of thought on this! All of the animal shelters here (St. Louis, MO) actually ask you to pledge to keep your cat inside all the time! We still see cats roaming around the neighborhood, but I've always kept my kitty in the house. We are lucky to have a large screened in porch that we let her out on, and she does love that. Or, when we have the windows open she will lay pressed up against the screen. :)

@facethesun said...

Sorry to hear about your kitty. I have one cat, but had two until last year. One cat was euthanized at the ripe old age of nearly 18 when she stopped eating and grooming and it was clearly time. The other is just turned 19! They were both strays, but adjusted to indoor life easily. I live in an aparmtent, so in and out isn't an option. My cat is so adjusted, she doesn't even try to go out. And I have the peace of mind knowing that she won't get run over or drink antifreeze or be otherwise harmed by my neighbors. If I lived on a farm or somewhere that they could roam safely, I might think differently, but I am comfortable with knowing my cat doesn't go out and she is fine with it too.

Jessica said...

So sorry about Feather. I've never had an indoor/outdoor cat, just one or the other. We've always had an indoor-only cat and also had outdoor barn cats. Any indoor cat we'd had throws up in the house if let outside, from eating too much grass (which I believe cats are supposed to do to get rid of hairballs? but is more excessive than necessary when they get access to grass.)

CARRIE said...

We have 2 indoor-only and ever cats. They have never been outside. I am definitely of the indoor-only opinion, but only when it is the only thing the cat has ever known. It would be unfair to "restrain" a cat who is used to being outside and would I think cause a lot of distress.

Today my boys and I saw a neighborhood cat who is indoor/outdoor. The cat came and loved on us and then promptly went and laid in the street. I heard a car coming, so went over to the cat and attempted to block it from running across the street....in case it tried. When the car got closer and continued barrelling along, I picked the cat up and put it on the sidewalk.

My 4-year-old (who seems to have his mother's tendency for agonizing anxiety) was all aflutter and fretting about the cat after that.

Mrs. Irritation said...

I'm so sorry about Feather.

I do think it's easier to have an indoor cat who doesn't know the difference about going outside. Yes, they can see out the window and watch birds and grass they'd love to munch but they don't really know what they're missing.

Pickles and Dimes said...

Oh, poor Feather! That was really nice of that woman to find you and tell you.

Your new kitty does indeed look very laid back. Love it.

Maggie said...

So sorry about Feather. After having one of our cats killed by a coyote in our front yard (lovely) and another hit by a car (on our totally not busy street) in quick succession, we got two indoor only cats.

Growing up both my husband and I had indoor/outdoor cats and it was the accepted way people did it in both places we lived. Still 100% acceptable where we are now, just not for us. I couldn't handle the sad or my kids being sad even one more time. So, indoor only for us from now on.

Saly said...

Oh, poor Feather! We only have indoor cats as do most of our neighbors. Our shelters ask us to pledge to keep them indoors, and we always have because we live near the corner of a semi-busy street.

We do have a lady across the street with an indoor/outdoor cat. He likes to jump in to our cars if we leave the doors open, and torments our cats on our porch.

Alexicographer said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Feather, and your needing to deal with the ... after. Sad, indeed, but good to know.

I see the arguments on both sides of the indoor/outdoor and have always myself had outdoor, but currently have none and may be reluctant to add one who is "outdoor."

At the same time, am I the only one who sees the irony that (OK, I don't have data to back this up, but I bet it's true) it is (surely) a subset of the same people who advocate "indoor only" who are now insisting on buying only "free-range" chicken, beef, etc. Am I?

artemisia said...

I am so sorry for you! It must be a shock to lose Benchley and Feather so close together. I am thinking of you and your family.

How very sweet that Elizabeth recognized the worry that comes with loving.

Alice said...

oh, poor Feather. (and OMFG, poor YOU, i CAN'T EVEN WOW ACK.)

i live in a Gasp, Your Cat Is Only Indoors... RIGHT? area; you actually have to sign a form promising to never let your cat out before the shelter will let you take one home. if only Oliver the Cat had read & signed the damn thing.

Farrell said...

I'm sorry about feather:(
I lived in southern california and there were lots of hills with lots of coyotes so even after moving to the midwest, i still keep my cat indoors. There are a lot of stray cats around and I don't want mine getting beat up and also do not need any "presents" from him at my back door, you know what I mean?

Maureen said...

Alexicographer mentioned above that the people who only have indoor cats also must only buy "free range" chicken, beef, etc.

I'm only speaking for myself-but the reason I keep my cats indoors is because I would worry too much about them if they were outside and I didn't know where they were. I need to know my pets are safe from cars, other dogs, mean people, etc. I wouldn't be able to sleep if I knew my cats were outside facing who knows what dangers.

That is just me, my feelings, my experiences. I'm not of the subset you described. I'm just someone who has seen cats killed in front of my house, and don't want my cats to suffer the same fate.

Lara said...

Awww, Swistle. I am sorry about Feather.

Eva.G said...

I'm sorry to hear about Feather!

We live in a firmly Indoor Only area, and like an above poster, had to sign a pledge to only keep our cat indoors! She is allowed in our fenced backyard with a leash and harness only, and she has never tried to jump over the (high) fence, and honestly, I really don't think she knows she can escape! She just chews on grass and eats bugs, and then comes running in to be safe indoors.

I'm glad you posted this, as all night I've been researching about adopting a second cat! Our current cat is 3 and we're thinking of getting a kitten as a friend for her. But I'm nervous about adjusting to 2 cats! We're planning to go through Petsmart's National Adoption Weekend in September.

Holly said...

I'm sorry to hear about Feathre! We keep our 3 cats inside (one is blind, so really no choice with her). But one of the others was a stray who showed up in our yard as a kitten and lived outside for months before we brought him in. The other was a shelter cat who had been living in an abandoned bus for two years. Both made the transition to inside-only with no problem whatsover and they are completely happy with it. I'm not thrilled with 3 litterboxes, but otherwise it's fine.

Alexicographer said...

@Maureen, I meant no offense, really I didn't (indeed as noted I am not myself inclined to add an "outdoor" cat to my current household). It does still strike me as funny that one of the things that's changed since I was a kid is that many people do now keep our pets indoors (when I was a kid both dogs and cats roamed free; now the former rarely do and the latter, it's mixed, where I live -- and it's the same area as I grew up in) and/or confined, yet many of the same people (in my circle) now worry about whether the animals we eat are free-range.

Of course few "free-range" animals are truly free range! Really what that (usually) means is that they are ... what? ... comfortably confined? Which pretty much characterizes the pets as well as the for-food animals...

And, yes, I know -- significant potential (perhaps likely) downsides to unconfined animals, for all involved!

Erica said...

Well, I read this and thought, "I know my outdoor cat is probably on borrowed time at this point," and then he was run over by our neighbor five days later. So...indoor cats for us too, now. But we got Hopper as a juvenile (not kitten) barn cat who had never even been indoors, so I feel okay about the nine years he spent in and out. Not too great about the last week, though.

Swistle said...

Erica- Oh, no! I'm sorry about Hopper.