Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Great Debate - House Cat or Outdoor Cat?

New year, new cat. At the start of the year, I was given a beautiful white male cat – nine months old. I called him ‘Snowy’ – as most of you will know via my constant photos on Facebook.

I did all the suggested things – took him to the vet, got his injections, his worming tablets, cleaning fluids for his ears and got him neutered. The latter he was none too pleased about. Coming back home he gave me a dagger look which said “I can’t believe you did that to me”.

But anyway, moving on. It had been quite some years since I owned a cat (since my teenage years in fact) and I was really pondering the great debate. Do I let the cat go outside to play or do I keep him indoor as a house cat?

Delving into this question, I realised there is a great debate and people sway very adamantly on one side or the other.

I have one sister who has owned a cat for 12 years. Mo was let out once as a young cat and went missing for two weeks. We searched high and low, placed notices on lamp-posts; went round knocking all the neighbours’ houses. We even, alas, phoned the Council to see if a dead cat had been collected. Thankfully, there hadn’t. In fact, my sister received a phone-call not long after to say that a neighbour recognised the cat from the photo on the lamp-post and the cat had indeed been camping out in her garage. Happily, Mo was reunited to Rhoda and has never had any interest in going outside since.

My other sister has owned a couple of cats and is of the ‘let them outside to play’ argument. She believes that a cat should be given the freedom to run wild and chase birds, as nature intended.

When Snowy first arrived with me, I was sure I’d be in the ‘house cat’ camp. I couldn’t imagine the fear and worry every time he left the house. What if he’s got in a fight with another cat? What if a car has knocked him over? Or, what if, god forbid, someone else clapped their eyes on him and stole him?

Alas, I ordered loads of cat toys online with a view to keeping him occupied in the apartment. Here’s the thing, Snowy tires of toys very quickly. An hour’s active play and then he’s bored. The only ‘toy’ he has still kept interest in is the lid of a red biro!

So, one night he kept meowing at the front door. Meowing and meowing as if I was holding him hostage in a prison. Tentatively, I opened the front door and let him view the big bad world. He sniffed, he trotted and the next thing he was running away. Well, that was scary. But I just sat there for a while and ten minutes later he came running back again.
The next time he wanted out, he was out for an hour. Then another hour. But then one day he didn’t come home. Twenty-four hours passed and I was at my wit’s end. I had a tension headache from worrying about him. What he couldn’t find his way home? What if he’d gotten in a fight? What if he’d been run over?

I imagined having to tell my friend Paula – the girl who had given me the cat in the first place. Imagine her disappointment that I’d managed to lose him after only a couple of months!

And then, out of the blue, a loud meowing could be heard outside the window. I opened the door and he sauntered in. Rolled on the floor wanting his tummy tickled, trotted off to get some food and then slept for a day solid.

Now he comes and goes as he pleases. When he returns, he’s tired, sleeps for ages and eats lots. But he seems happier. He’s not running around the apartment demented, trying to burn up energy chasing a red biro lid. He’s outside burning up lots of energy instead.

I can totally understand people’s reasons for keeping their cat as a house cat, and even Cats Protection recommend it. But unfortunately for me, Snowy has told me that he’s an outdoor cat and there’s nothing I can do about it! 


  1. Good on Snowy for exploring the big world outside. Wishing him good fortune. Perhaps be prepared for the odd 'gift' he might bring you. ;-) He's still young, so he'll be hunting around. Is he microchipped? If not, that's something I'd suggest you get done fairly soon. That way he can be identified if he's found straying.

    We always worry about our kitties, and, having moved to what is considered a safe area for cats (no traffic, gardens and fields galore) our Toby went missing. You never know, but you can only give them the best life they deserve. If they want to be out, then so be it, provided it's 'relatively' safe. Tiger now hardly goes out at all, sometimes not for days. When he does, he's the only cat that growls at the resident cats in the lane. :D

    Good luck to Snowy!

    1. Yes he is microchipped! And yes I agree- it's best to give them a good life and (for me) that means letting them run and explore ☺

  2. Great blog Rose. Very interesting debate. Certainly sounds like Snowy knows his own mind.

    1. Thanks Debbie :) Yes he is a confident wee thing :)