Psychological Cat: Benefits of outdoors

I know many people think that getting a cat or a small dog, especially if they live in a small apt, is ok for the animal. Our animal friends need lots of love and attention . Leaving them alone for most of the day in a small apt. is a very BAD idea. They have feelings and mood swings just like you and me. Giving food isn't the only responsibility of having a cat pal.

We should take time to play with our animal friends, respect their space and privacy, and try to take them out. Many don't realize the importance of play for our cat pals. It's very important to take time out of our life to play with our cat pals. I play with my cat a lot. Interacting with her, and playing games with her, helps me to strengthen my bond with my cat pal.

Most indoor American cats are fat. They don't get enough exercise, and probably are fed each time they meow. A meow doesn't necessarily mean our cat pal is always hungry. Some people think they have to leave food especially dry food out all the time incase the cat gets hungry. That idea is silly. Cats don't get hungry like that, and that most certainly doesn't happen in the wild. If it seems that the cat eats more, its only because it's not getting enough nutrients from its commercial diet and keeps eating to make up for lost nutrients. Not to mention the fact that commercial food both wet/ dry has tons of extra calories and fillers that are not necessary for it metabolism. Please read my section on Food for more info. Animals need to work up an appetite and the digestive system needs time to rest. I mean do we carry a bag of chips in our purses, just incase we get hungry in between meals?

If possible it's a good idea to expose cats to the outdoors. I know vets warn against this, claiming that cats can get all sorts of disease. But if cats were fed a good diet perhaps their immune system will be a lot stronger than we expect. After all, babying and being too overprotective towards our animal friends is not a good idea. They each have their own personalities and interests that should not be inhibited by our over protectiveness even if its done out of love..

My cat has never had an opportunity to freely roam because she lives in an apt. I am trying to take my cat out in her cage by this grassy lot near a school when it's closed. At first I was a bit sad to see her so frightened and shivering with fear of the outside. I too was scared she would get fleas or bitten by stray dogs or something terrible. I got over most of my over protectiveness. Now I open the top of the cage, and she just sits in the cage like an open convertible and looks around. She is too scared to come out. I don't force her to come out, when she is ready I hope she will explore more. But I can see she is picking up all the smells, sounds and sights. Things that nature has to offer often go un-appreciated by us, humans, but cats seem to be more appreciative of this. Perhaps one day when I live in a house, my cat can have more access to the outside.

I think it's a good idea, especially if you have easy access to the yard or live in a house, to train kittens at a young age on getting used to going outdoors and returning back. Even if you live in an apt. with a little garden, your cat pal will enjoy a stroll. It really depends on how comfortable the owner feels. If the owner feels too troubled to let the cat explore the outdoors, just start with a few minutes with supervision, any exposure to outdoors is beneficial. The animal and its guardian must develop a trust relationship.

Cats are also smart, and don't necessarily just land in trouble. Also if cats are fed at a certain time, they will not feel inclined to always be outside since they know a cozy bed and nice food awaits them. There are risks to having a cat going outdoors, but I think the results are more positive and with each case we ought to use our judgment.

It is foolish to assume that cats are content confined indoors all the time. There are also psychological problems that cats cooped in the house can encounter such as depression, lethargy and boredom. Many chronic illness start with environment. One common problem is skin infections. Due to boredom, cats have the habit of constantly licking their fur. Almost like an crazy obsession…..

Recently, I noticed that a patch of hair under her chin was missing. Although my cat is perfectly healthy otherwise, it bothered me that she should get any health problem at all. As I thought more about it and re-read some chapters in Donald Hamilton book (small doses for small animals), I began to understand that environment plays an important role in cat's lives. Sunshine, grass, outdoor smells are things that contribute to a healthy lifestyle for any of our Feline pals.

When I was younger and lived in a house, I had a cat pal that would go outdoors. It would often, explore the outdoors, and come back in thru the window. I never had any problems, like fleas, or any diseases. I fed it on time, so food was never a problem. I think this experience has led me to be more open into letting my cat out if possible. I see the adventures they have, and sense that they are happier. I mean even we as humans wouldn't like to be confined to a box-like room all our lives. Even if we work in a cubicle, at least we get a lunch break.

I find it particularly inductive when conventional vets advise the guardian to keep the cat in the house because they say it's supposedly safe.. Yet ironically, it is indoor cats that suffer from chronic illnesses from cancer to Urinary tract infections to skin problems. What I am saying is that keeping the cat in the house does not guarantee a healthy cat. Just like how annual vaccinations most definitely does not guarantee a cat to be free of disease. These are just ingrained ideas that we (including many vets) need to change. If pediatricians/doctors were to tell parents to keep their children home all the time due to the dangers of the outside world such as drugs, crime, car accidents etc, that would just be strange…

Quote: Finally emotional stress is a well-recognized cause of skin problems from psychosomatic itching to self-mutilation from boredom or intense emotional discomfort. This has been recognized in cats for years, often because of the notion that cats can live comfortably in a small apt. without going outside. In reality, many cats become quite stressed when kept inside, especially when they are alone a lot or when there are too many cats in a house and not enough room for each cat to have its own space. Dogs can also suffer from these stresses, usually from similar circumstances - being left alone a lot, kept in a pen, not getting enough exercise -short, from poor emotional care
Donald Hamilton, DVM
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