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

Assumptions about the happiness of my cat

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--- Quote from: Figgie on April 20, 2013, 10:21:50 PM ---I actually just had a discussion with our vet about this very topic.  Dear friends of ours moved from a rural area to a very urban area and brought their indoor/outdoor cat with them.  They were very concerned that Pearl would miss the great outdoors and found that what she likes to do is look outside, but has shown NO interest in actually going outside.  :)  In fact she is more relaxed and more playful than she was at the other house.

Considering that she had spent the good part of the day outside for almost 10 years on their previous property, I asked the vet why she now seemed to prefer watching the busy street (one window) and the bushes in the backyard (other window) to going outside.

The vet told me that being outside is stressful for cats.  That every day Pearl had to go and re-mark her territory and chase intruders off.  So, rather than being outside having fun, she was outside working because that is how cats brains are wired.  Now that she is inside, she can enjoy the activity of outside without the responsibility of defending/marking her territory.

Pearl has only done one naughty thing and my friend said it was totally her fault.  When my friend forgot to scoop the litter box for three days, Pearl walked up to her, squatted and pooped on the kitchen linoleum.  Since then my friend has scooped the box daily and there hasn't been a repeat. :)

--- End quote ---

Actually it was Pearl saying "Clean my litter box!" lol. Cats get testy when the litter box isn't up to their specifications.

Fred, the cat in my avatar, was rescued from the Great Big Outdoors when he was about 6 months old. I'd been seeing him around in the woods for at least two months prior to that--he'd been surviving on his own during that time.

Fred is now 17. He has shown no desire to step foot back in the Great Big Outdoors in all those years. Lay on the windowsill and watch squirrels? Sure. Sit in an open window and warn birds that he's a great, big, bad hunter? Absolutely. Recline at his ease on the screened-in porch and take in the scent of flowers wafting on the breeze? You betcha.

Go outside and get wet and muddy and have to dodge coyotes and foxes and owls? Hunt mice and chipmunks for food? Cower in the dark at every strange noise? Nope. Not happening.

Not all cats want out. Many prefer in.

Now, as to your question. I don't think you can control if Mr. Bottlecaps snaps at SIL. That's all on him.

And you can't stop SIL from making silly comments about the cat.

What you can do is focus on your reaction to her comments. You can ignore them, or you can develop a line that you deliver every time she makes a silly comment, like, "No, he prefers indoors." Just say the exact same thing every time she mentions the cat and outdoors, then change the subject. Either she'll get bored of the subject, or you'll just get used to delivering your one line.

Or you could confront her on the matter. "SIL, why are you so concerned about my cat going outdoors? You bring it up every time you come over. You don't listen to my explanations. What's really going on here?" It's a bit confrontational, but it's not rude.

Our cat (who tragically died of sudden cancer a month ago), was rescued from a physically abusive owner (we found her in a rubbish bin, having not eaten for over a week according to the vet). She was an adult but weighed under 2kg (typical weight being 3.5kg) and looked like a POW camp survivor. You could see all her bones, including her sternum and neck bones, and it was awful. She hid constantly and was terrified of noise. It was really sad. We looked after her and slowly she stopped cowering for as long as as easily, and eventually lived a pretty normal life as a chubby fluff-ball.

One of her favourite things was to sit and look out the window in the warm sun. Her eyes would follow pedestrians and cars and things. But if I opened the door right next to her to go out, she would flee and not return until the door was closed--she hated the outdoors, possibly due to another awful past traumatic experience. Loved watching things from the safety of the house, but would not go out even if carried (she'd go stiff and make a beeline for the house as soon as she could).

It's like astronomers and astronauts: some little boys dream of going to the stars. Others dream of watching the stars. Both can be perfectly happy doing those things. I, for example, love watching cycling, but hate riding a bike. Nothing wrong with that. And Petey enjoys watching the world from his little crows-nest.

It sounds like you need something new to say to your sister if her presumptuous behaviour isn't changing. If she isn't the type to respond well to being told neutrally and matter-of-factly that she's overstepping the line, you could maybe get a vet to say that this is normal and healthy, and that keeping him indoors is perfectly fine, and then use the power of authority (vet trumps sister) to void any of her arguments to the contrary.

Rude alert:

Nothing quite makes the argument for an indoor cat being safer than an outdoor cat is than that outdoor cat being road kill.

I've had indoor/outdoor cats all my life.  No longer.  I live on a very busy and high speed road, and I live rurally with raccoons out and about.  My cats might WANT to go out, but I'm the adult and I say NO.  Too bad, so sad.  They might not even get more exercise outside than they do inside, since at least one of them would just hide under the house the entire time (and then I'd have to spend an hour or so grooming him once he came back in). 

My cats have each other to play with - vigorously.  They have the windows to sit in and look outside, front (trees and birds and squirrels) or back (road and dogs and people).  They can talk to or yell at the birds at the bird feeders.  They can yell at the squirrels.  They can look at the kitty video (fish tank) and attack it as the mood hits them.  They can go to the top of the 7 foot cat tree and thence over to the tops of the bookshelves.  They cannot go outside, ever.  I'm not living with the medical bills and the heartbreak again. EVER.  Not when it's avoidable.

I do let my cats be indoor outdoor. But only when we are at home and only during the day. Both of them like to go out and lay on the patio bricks when they are warmed by the sun.  They are terrifically lazy and will sit under the bird feeder for hours trying to get the birds to land on them. They will also lay on the patio and cry for someone to carry them in.   

But we are on a quiet road, our dog keeps away wildlife and I've never seen them leave the yard.

Busy street, no way.  Night time ... no way.

Your cat, your choice and I do not think the cat is in anyway sad.


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