Indoor? Outdoor? What’s best?
Growing up, all the cats I knew lived indoor-outdoor lives. They came and went, sometimes never to return, but on the whole, they seemed happy.
When, as an adult, I eventually decided to fulfil one of my childhood dreams and adopt cats, my most recent experience was of indoor only cats who were visibly genuinely (!) happy with their environment. So, I thought (naively(?), having read up extensively on the subject and talked to staff at animal shelters), cats who have never known outdoor life will be fine indoors.
Yes. And no.
Linus loves being indoors. Offer him the opportunity of exploring the great outdoors when it’s anything less than 15C outside, and he will firmly but politely retreat to the nearest sofa. Leon, on the other hand, will happily sit outside in subzero temperatures.
I have come to accept that there are no perfect solutions. Outdoor life offers all kinds of enrichment that indoor life never can, but having seen a cat flattened and left to die in the middle of a road (+ oodles of weekly online requests in my inbox to help search for missing cats locally) I cannot help but worry about the dangers outdoor life presents, especially when you live in a big city.
If there is anything I have learnt (or at least tried to learn!) recently, it is that there is no such thing as perfection: Leon and Linus lead happy lives. They are loved (even when 5kg of unadulterated cat love descend upon me at 4am!), they are warm, they are never hungry, and - whilst they may not be able to roam the neighbourhood - they have a decent-sized outdoor space to explore. We play with them every day to ensure they have something to hunt (in addition to the local insect population!).
A couple of days before I was hospitalised, Leon escaped to our next-door-neighbour’s balcony. I was convinced we had lost him forever, but when I went out to look, I was greeted by a cat desperately meowing to find a way through the netting and get back INTO his home! (And yes, I did just get the kitchen scissors and cut a hole in the net! )
I would love, one day, to be able to offer our boys a proper garden. But for now, they’re OK. They really are. ️ - 14 minutes ago