Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats
There’s a divide in the way that cat owners (and non-cat owners, because they have massive opinions on this too) care for their furry family members on different sides of the Atlantic. In general, British cats are allowed outside to roam and establish their own territories, and cats in North America aren’t (or at least the ones who get Tweeted about aren’t). It’s down to the differences in environment and attitudes towards cats, and most owners will get it right even though their methods can vary enormously. But there are some owners who are really entrenched in their views and perceive all other methods as animal abuse. And they seem to have a real problem with outdoor cats.
In spite of its bias toward outdoor cats, the UK does still has many cats that are predominantly indoor, and this is often by their own choosing; or sometimes there is a specific reason a cat cannot have an outdoor life (e.g. illness or injury). But in general, in Britain we consider it cruel to deny a cat the opportunity to spend time outside — and yet there are many British indoor cat owners, out of choice, who are making it work. It’s never as simple as one way over the other.
I come from an environment in which it is normal to allow cats outside. It is done gradually, increasing exposure to the outdoors over time at the appropriate ages & stages of development. We don’t just sling our cats outdoors and forget about them. We vaccinate, neuter & microchip our pets, give them collars with our contact details on and fit cat flaps to our external doors so that our cats can come and go as they please (fun fact: neutered cats tend not to roam as far as unneutered ones). Of course, they will still stand at a different door miaowing to be let out and then immediately let back in, but that’s just their way of screwing with us.
Culturally, British cats have access to the outdoors, and we prepare our cats for a life lived outdoors if they want it. In practice, our cats divide their time between indoors and outdoors, and we allow them to enjoy their independence. While our cats don’t require our attention all day, they aren’t low-maintenance. Feline veterinary care is a constant consideration, especially given our cats will interact with the outdoor environment and other cats and…