Etiquette School is in session! > "What an interesting assumption."

Assumptions about the happiness of my cat

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That Anime Chick:
Our cats are perfectly happy looking out the windows and actually get excited when we open the windows. I've had people say how cute our cats are looking out, but never had anyone tell us that we shouldn't keep them indoors. Our neighborhood has dogs, so if either of them were to wander into their yards, one would run as fast as she could back home when the dog starts barking while the other would sit and look at the dog as if to say 'Yeah, you bark, so what?' (she has no fear).

We even built a small set of stairs for our older cat since she's getting older and sometimes jumping is hard for her.

NyaChan:
My sister's cat LOVES windows and sliding glass doors.  If you are the first person awake in the morning, watch out, cuz she will not leave you alone until you open something up for her to look out of.  Open the front door and she'll sniff around outside and enjoy it - but she always wants back inside.

TootsNYC:
OP, remember that you can choose the conversation topic just as much as SIL can.

So when she brings it up, change the topic. Change it to how often she makes that comment, and how repetitive it is, and even say that you feel it's disrespectful for her to keep making that comment when she knows that your decision about indoors-only was to keep Petey safe.

And then leave the room.

And after that, then just do the Ronald Reagan thing, "There you go again!"

Or alternately (now that I'd read your update about him), "Eh, you know, he really doesn't want to go out. He likes looking, but he doesn't want to go out. Maybe you're just projecting your own reaction onto him, or thinking in stereotypes. But Petey's happy how he is."

lurkerwisp:
Our cat, Willow, loves to sit at the window and watch birds.  We have a fenced in patio and she's pretty clumsy so I thought I could take her outside back there to give her outside playtimes.  She freaked out.  Willow did not want to be outside, not one bit.  She climbed over my shoulder (quite a feat since she'd been declawed by her first owner) and right back in the door to stand in the kitchen and meow at me with big sad eyes of "how dare you!"

Willow is a rescue, who was abandoned in an apartment closet when her first owner was sent to prison.  Apparently she had some kind of brain damage from being left without food or water for who knows how long, and new things like the different food, different litter, and rearranging furniture stress her out too much for her to handle.  Turns out that the great outdoors, even just about 10x18 feet of it, is also definitely on that list too.

So saying something along the lines of, "Petey feels safer inside, it's much less stressful for him." and then giving some evidence such as, "See how relaxed he looks?" (And he's a cat, so that's probably true most of the time) could help.  If it doesn't, then just repeat the same things over and over again until she stops asking because she'll know the exact wording of your answer.  :)

Twik:
Just a side note that no, not all cats are happy outside.

The Sabre-Toothed Siamese (mother's cat) is an indoor cat, all his life. And he does stare pensively out the window quite often. However, one day, I didn't close the front door properly while Mom was out, and realized it 15 minutes later. Searched the house - no cat. Ran out the door, prepared to scour the neighbourhood calling his name...

... Only to nearly step on a ball of grey fluff two feet from the door. Every hair was on end, so he really did look like a ball, with two wide, dilated blue eyes in the middle, which seemed to be saying, "Help me ... please...."

He was too frightened to even walk the two feet back inside. I had to pick him up (feeling his little heart thumping) and carry him, and he didn't relax until I'd closed the door.

He still sits at the window and acts deprived, though, the little stinker.

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