Friday, October 7, 2011

Watching the World

I feel sorry for my cats sometimes. People tell me I do a good job of seeing to their food and water, their shelter and comfort. I try to spend time with them, though it’s never enough, and make them feel loved and wanted. But I feel sorry for their restricted little world. It’s limited to the two floors of my house, and what they can see from the windows.

My three cats (plus one) must know every inch of the house by now, at least every inch they can get to, and what they observe beyond the glass panes or, in the summer, wire screens of the windows must seem very exciting and stimulating.

I could never let my cats outdoors. Some people do, and they don’t worry about their pets less than I, but I wouldn’t have a moment’s peace with them outside. Tungsten is too little, Josie too fat, Tucker too passive and Renn too timid. I’m sure something bad would happen to them. So I keep them indoors.

But what adventures they see outside. Tungsten is not overly impressed with the exterior world. She is definitely an indoor cat, if only because she is above worldly concerns such as, well, the world. The other three observe the passing parade of life whenever they can. Sometimes, it’s a conscious decision. One will sit down and watch. Automobiles driving by, people walking, animals, especially animals, stimulate their interest. But on those days, the cat will lie on a cat-tree platform and simply watch. What do they think about? Do they wish for freedom? Are they glad they are inside? Do these thoughts even come to mind?

Other times, a cat will be lying about, relaxing. His gaze is on nothing in particular. A car goes by; it’s nothing important. A dog on a leash is just another dog on a leash. Then, a bird, or perhaps another cat, or even a falling leaf: this will become the most exciting thing he has ever seen.

Then there are the days when a predator’s instinct, deep down, even in the depths of chubbiness that is Josie, will be woken by a bluejay or a finch, hopping across the lawn. The cat will chatter, whimper or whine, depending on the personality. The expressions seem to declare, “Oh, if only I were out there, what short work I would make of you.” Then the scene closes, the bird flies off. The cat’s eyes wander away to see what else he can intimidate.

Other cats crossing my pets’ property come in for special attention. Renn once saw a neighbour’s cat cross the back lawn. The stranger saw Renn. They stared at each other. My big boy didn’t move, didn’t try to get out, but if he had, there may have been words exchanged, perhaps blows. The first week Tungsten was with me, she heard someone in the corridor outside the apartment where we then lived. She quickly started rubbing her face against every corner she could find. This was her home now. Interlopers stay away. It’s not so very different now, when this cat or that is observed on our land.

But when the outdoors comes inside, when a stranger calls at the house, a repairman, a deliveryman, then I see what might happen in another situation. Renn used to run and hide, so did Tucker. How would they behave in the ‘wild’? There, a stranger isn’t just a benign visitor; he may be a danger. The boys wouldn’t want to face it, Josie - my unofficial greeter - would be too trusting, and Tungsten would be apathetic.

No, my cats will stay inside, where it’s dull but safe. They will watch the outdoors, see the passing years and miss out on a great deal. How is that different than our lives? We watch so much in which we can’t participate. There will always be something we can’t have or won’t do. But we enjoy what we can. We take pleasure in what is in our grasp, in what can be.

So it is with my cats. They see what is outside, but they don’t linger on the impossible. Anyway, perhaps it’s dinner-time, or a treat is in the offing. A friend has come in to the room and will scratch that spot just behind the ears that feels so good. It’s cold out, and a soft couch is just over there. A few minutes of getting into just the right position and they’re asleep. If they dream of running free outdoors, that doesn’t stop them from purring when they wake again indoors.


  1. Not sure what your situation is, but if you can, you could add a enclosure to a convention window or patio door.

    But don't worry too much about restricting the kitties to the house. Dad leaves the back door open a crack when he's around and the weather is not too bad. Once in a while, Mary Read will go outside for a while. But Anne Bonny hasn't been near the door in a couple months.

    We were both strays. That was all the 'outside time' we needed. In is a whole lot better!

  2. An indoor cat is a happy cat. I saw that on someone's blog, I'm sorry I cant remember where. It was a badge and I 'borrowed' it and plan to put it on my blog too.
    My kitty Star has been indoors for the 10 years I've had her, except for one brief moment. We had a damaged screen door, the metal at the bottom bowed out a little. A squirrel passed by and she did her usual. She dived at the door, either to scare it or thinking she could grab it, I dont know. Well this time she went right through and found herself outside. Boy did she freak out! In the seconds it took me to get to the door and open it, she turned around three times and then dived back through the little opening even as I opened the door! So don't worry, your kitties are probably much much happier indoors than they would be if they got out into the wild!
    By the way, I found you through Daily Dose of Dogs (AKA Cats With Your Coffee) because Chrystal posted a picture of your brick today! What a lovely tribute to your sweeties! And a great way to help more kitties!

  3. My five are indoor only. I set up what I call bird tv for them. We have bears, raccoon and coyotes so they can't go out.

  4. I've come over from Chrystal's blog to say hello to fellow a Canadian and cat lover!

    Your beautiful cats are safe, happy and healthy indoors :-)

  5. Hi! We just discovered your blog thanks to Chrystal's "Brick" post today. We are 4 cats, one dog and one horse living in rural France. Great to meet you!

    The cats are not allowed to roam the great outdoors but they do have an outdoor run, with entry from the house and so they get their bits of grass and basking in the sun, and even a bit of snow under their paws in the winter!

  6. Thanks for putting into words the debate I have about my cats not getting to run wild. Safe has always been better for me too. And my cats, little devilish fiends that they are, find much mischief to satisfy their souls right here in our cozy home. Proof of this is the joy with which they are initiating my new area rug. It is getting fluffier in some spots...a bit shiny in others...oh well!

  7. We is a house of 8 doggies and 2 kitties. We kitties love our windows! We snuggle together in our bigger window. But we is happy! And I bet you all are happy too! Kitties are not like dogs...and we should know...

    Sophia Belle and Sophie Marie