Monday 2 August 2021

For a full-time indoor cat, a walk on the leash in the garden will be thoroughly enjoyed

This is about providing your cat with an enriched environment. Something as simple as walking your cat around the front or backyard of your home once a day for, say, 20 minutes will be something that your cat can look forward to if she/he is a full-time indoor cat. 

It really doesn't have to be something exotic and clever. It's just allowing your cat to 'connect' with nature as best you can achieve it. This will be in stark contrast to being inside the home which is entirely artificial and the human world.

For a full-time indoor cat, a walk on the leash in the garden will be thoroughly enjoyed
For a full-time indoor cat, a walk on the leash in the garden will be thoroughly enjoyed. Photo: Getty Images (harpazo_hope) 

There is a good example of this on the Internet right now from The Guardian newspaper. Interestingly, it concerns a family living in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. We know how sensitive the Australian government and indeed Australian citizens are to the predation of native species by domestic cats. This man, James Shackell, decided he wanted to enrich his cat's life, so the benefits of wildlife conservation was a secondary matter.

As expected, it took a while for his cat, Monkey, to adjust to wearing a harness because they almost invariably cause a cat to flop over on their side and become totally passive and immobilised. It is as if they have been zapped with a taser. But bit-by-bit they get used to it and are able to walk fairly normally when wearing one.

And so with patience James took Monkey out to his front garden and over time Monkey learned to love it and he would encourage James to take him out. It has become a daily ritual and whenever he grabs the lead Monkey trills and purrs and runs to the front door "like an excited puppy". Great to see. You know you are doing well as a cat guardian when you see that feline behavior.

I would expect his front garden not to be an enormous 'domain' of several acres but quite small but it is large enough for a domestic cat to enjoy smelling the earth, the grass and the scents that waft in on the breeze. And to feel the earth and grass under his paws is a great experience for an indoor cat.

The point of this brief note is to say that something as simple and is easy to do as this will have great benefits to a full-time indoor cat and therefore it should be done if at all possible. I am passionate about trying to encourage people to ensure that their cat enjoys nature. It will be a compromise, as demonstrated by the arrangements of James, but this is far better than nothing at all.

One downside which he has got used to is that his neighbours think that he is eccentric. It's funny but people do see cats on leashes and cats in strollers as very strange. This is because it is still very rare and a lot of people have preconceived views about domestic gas being independent and free roaming. 

Both the cat stroller and the cat leash are excellent tools to work out a compromise to allowing a cat to behave naturally while protecting them from injury and protecting nature from the predatory instinct of this beloved animal companion.

P.S. An alternative is to build a large backyard enclosure but that is far more expensive and intrusive. It is still a good idea though if you are up to the disruption. It will hard though to convert a free-roaming cat to a confined cat. Be prepared for difficulties and/or failure.

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