Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dealing with outdoor-only cats

Jasper and Beorn looking through the back door
"Why can't we come inside?"
Beorn, Jasper and Franklin are semi-feral, outdoor-only cats. They have heated beds, warm and enclosed spaces, litter boxes and fresh water. Every night, they're escorted to an enclosure and shut in for the night, to ensure that they don't get into fights with the neighborhood cats. In essence, they have basically everything a little cat might need in order to be happy and healthy in the world. However, I find that they spend a lot of time looking inside the windows.

This house has windows in many of the doors, and often, those windows are quite close to the floor. Beorn and Jasper have become excellent guilt-trippers, sitting by these windows all day long and meowing at me as I walk past. It breaks my heart, even thought I know I'm doing the right thing by keeping them outside.

Franklin is feral, so he doesn't want to come inside at all, but Beorn and Jasper are inveterate peeing machines. Give them the option to pee on something, and they'll do it. I have no idea where they picked up this behavior, but I do know that it's something they can't be trained out of. I spent many, many, MANY months trying to do just that and I had absolutely no success.

These guys are also really territorial, apt to fight with any cats they view as interlopers. Within about two weeks of moving to a new community they had asserted their dominance and now I see few, if any, neighborhood cats strolling through the yard. Before these guys arrived, it was common to see five or six strange cats in the yard every day. Since these cats are territorial, I don't know what they'd do to the indoor crew. Lucy, in particular, would be at risk since she is blind and pretty much unable to defend herself against attackers. If I let Beorn and Jasper inside, the indoor cats are likely to be seriously injured in the process.

So while it's best for the health of the cat community, and the health of my husband and I, for these cats to stay outside, and I can remind myself that they have it pretty good outside, these cats still seem to get me with their pleading eyes. I wish I could make them stop.