Thursday, May 5, 2016

Outdoor Cats?

As a result of my post about the cat neutering clinics, I have been prompted by several emails to look at the issue of outdoor cats. I received numerous emails about those cats at the neuter clinics. What happens to them after they are neutered? People seemed horrified that the cats live outdoors. They gave all sorts of dire warnings of the dangers faced by outdoors cats. One person was irate that these cats might kill birds. Another was angry that they were to be returned to the wild, believing that euthanasia was a better option (I don't think the cats would agree). For some reason the anti-outdoor cat crazies read my blog. Just to let you know, I trashed all of your angry emails. I only read the polite ones. Your different viewpoint were interesting to read, though I don't agree with much of it. 

Most farms here have farm cats, the proverbial barn cats though we have no barns. Oh, I know farms that are catless, and guess what, they have mice/rat/bird problems. Farms with cats still have vermin problems but not to such a great extent as non-cat farms. 

I've had people email me, saying that for one reason or another, if I were a good cat owner I would keep my cats indoors. I'm told that they....
...can be hit by cars. I live fairly remote, but yes I agree, they could conceivably get hit. 
...could get poisoned, shot, trapped. My remoteness helps protect them, but yes that could possibly happen. 
... could get into cat fights. Agreed. It happens occasionally. 
... could get killed by other animals. Yup, could happen. 
... kill lots of birds. Mine kill a few birds, but not many. They prefer rodents. Thus far they have only killed Japanese White Eyes, doves, plus the occasional saffron finch, none of which are endemic nor endangered. And even so, it's only two or three birds a month. The Hawaiian hawk that hunts on my land kills at least one bird every day! And that's only what I see. Who knows where it hunts elsewhere.

I've been told that it is neglectful to allow my cats outdoors. That it is even cruel and abusive. Not hardly, in my opinion. By the way, why don't you ask my cats? They can come and go as they please. They don't act like they are neglected or unhappy. 

Yes, my cats can freely come and go. They choose their own lifestyle. They can behave like cats, do "cat things". Some hang in or around the house all the time. Others wander the farm. Yet a few others travel to the neighboring farm. And yes, they take their chances. Life isn't safe. Life doesn't have safety guarantees. 

I have purposely chosen to live someplace where my animals have the opportunity to exercise more freedom in their lives. I have lived places in the past where my cats were 100%  house cats for their own safety because the dangers outside were too great. But on this homestead, they are reasonably safe to live the life of a farm cat. 

Contrary to those emails telling, sometimes demanding, me to keep my cats indoors because otherwise I am a terrible animal owner, I do not see myself as a bad, neglectful, cruel owner. I agree that I cannot keep my cats safe 100% of the time, but hey, life is not safe. Not even for me! Besides, my cats have a job. Rodent killers. Is it cruel to expect them to have a job on this farm? I've been told that it is. Oh come on, lets get real. I have to work for a living, and so do they. I enjoy my job, and so do they. Obviously, these animal rights/animal welfare people believe in a welfare system. Not me!!!

I work hard learning and doing homesteading. I don't appreciate some non-farm-working animal lover telling me how I have to run my life. If you don't like the idea of farm cats, that's your right for your own cats. I won't demand that all house cats be allowed outdoors. I won't demand that your cats live as farm cats. 

I do believe in being a responsible animal owner. So my cats get offered nutritious food and water daily, get treated regularly for parasites, get appropriate medical care, have access to shelter, get attention and affection. All my cats are neutered. 

So what about those feral cats at the neuter clinic? They go back to their territories and are released. It's a life that they know and have been successful with to date. Will they face dangers in life? Surely. Will they kill birds? Most likely some will. Is it abuse to allow them to return to their feral life? I don't believe that the cats see it that way. They want to go back home. I have followed numerous of these cats after they have been released. They fatten up, look healthier, become more stable, and seem more content. Not every cat gets to live a success story. But then, life offers no the real world that is. Not all the cats survive. Life is tough for wild/feral animals. And face it, there is no place for these cats to go but back to their territories. All of you who wrote indignant emails, are you open to adopt 100-200 of these cats? Can you find friends willing to take that many too? The facts are that there are thousands of these cats, tens of thousands! Offering them a chance at a better life is the best that realistically can be done. 

As I write this post I have Rikki Tikki sitting on my lap, Diggery asleep on hubby's lap. Toi is resting atop the cat tower. Molly is playing with a mouse toy. The rest of the gang is outside doing whatever it is that they do. Perhaps they will come inside when it's bedtime, or perhaps not. The ferals who also live on this farm are all outdoors because of their fear of humans, but they have access to food, water, and shelter. None of this is abusive. None is neglect. Animal-lovers need to understand and accept this. 

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