I have two cats: Tess and Ezra. They are rescued cats from a shelter. When adopting them, several years ago, we were asked to keep them indoors; i.e. in-house cats. I should mention that this is quite common, at least in New York.
For people reading this, who live in areas where cats roam free, it may look restrictive, but there are good reasons for it. Cats are natural hunters and enjoy killing even when they’re not hungry. You may think this is no big deal, but if you watch a documentary called The Secret Life of Cats, (continue reading below – you can watch the film later… 🙂
you will understand the extent of the problem. Furthermore, “Cats outdoors are also the subject to attack by other cats, dogs and wild animals (or people), are more apt to be hit by cars, and are more likely to contract a host of diseases or suffer from poisonings. Additionally, if these irresponsible pet owners do not spay or neuter their free-roaming cats, they will contribute to an increased number of feral cats, thereby compounding the wildlife problem even further,” says veterinarian Steve Wolfson. But all of the above is just the backdrop to what happened next.
My cats often enjoy sitting by the deck’s screen door, and checking out the backyard’s action: birds, chipmunks, squirrels, and just about anything that moves. A couple of days ago, I opened the sliding door to the deck, not realizing the screen door was also left open. I went to another room to take care of something and when I passed by the deck door again, a few moments later, I realized my mistake. Without a need to check if the cats took advantage of the opportunity, I knew instantly they were out. I quickly stepped onto the deck and called their names, imagining the worst: endless search for the two cats that, not used to the outdoors, may now be running onto traffic on an open road.
To my surprise, within moments I heard a terrified meowing. One of the cats, Ezra, came behind a hiding place on the deck, and looked completely petrified. There was nothing there to scare him expect for the fact that he was finally out and was scared as hell. When I cleared way for him to get back inside the house, he whooshed his way in, with Tess close on his heels. Being outside, which may have been the cats’ longtime desire, was way too intimidating for them to take advantage of. There is security and comfort in what we know.
Originally I thought of making this post about the safety of the familiar versus the stress of trying something new; but reconsidering it I felt this would be sort of obvious. It then occurred to me that there is something else I realized while meditating on this incident. For most of us, humans that is, the scary outside is actually our inside – being in our mind. We use a wide array of diversions (movies, food, sex,) now made even wider with the extensive advances in technology (mobile devices, internet, social media and the likes,) to avoid being with ourselves in a quiet state of self-examination, meditation and contemplation. For us, the horrifying territory which may yield new discoveries is inside our mind. And whenever we are left in the zone a little too long for comfort, we quickly run back to the safety of our toys and distractions.
Just some food for thought…
Learned from: my cats flee from freedom.