Originally Posted by AmberThe Bobcat
Sadly, until you have experienced the love these animals can share with humans, you will never understand. To share the love of a bobcat, puma or any other captive wild cat, is a love that most people will never be able to show to one another.
I've experienced the love of my cats and so I can appreciate that statement, but there's another side to it, and I'm afraid that would lead to an indoor v. outdoor debate Rockcat cautioned my against. But I'm going to say it now anyway, because it addresses the other side of Amber's comments:
Sadly, until you've experienced a cat's joy of being free outdoors, you will never understand. To see a cat's reaction on going outdoors is a reaction that many cat owners have never seen or really appreciated. I've experienced those reactions and I firmly believe that the call to the wild is still alive and well in the hearts and minds of our captive animals. Not all will have this call awakened upon going outdoors. If they've been inside since birth, that's the only life they've even known and that's the life they're happy with. But I've seen written time and time again in this forum and others that once a cat goes outside, it's very difficult to keep them inside, and these people constantly struggle with cats darting through open doors and crying to be let out.
I'll say it again for emphasis: I firmly believe that the call to the wild is still alive and well in the hearts and minds of our captive animals
and that goes for Amber's big cats as well as our domestic cats.
It's just difficult for me to describe the change I see in Rocket when he goes from inside to outside. It's like I'm seeing a completely different cat. He just lights up with joy. He sniffs the air, he rolls on the ground, he runs back and forth. Every fiber of his being vibrates to a new frequency, a frequency he only connects with outside. Yes, that's it....he's connecting with the great outside....the FREE and UNCONFINED outside....he's connecting with his TRUE NATURE. You really should see him run!! He LOVES to run!! He just flies!! Maybe I'm more observant than most people; I think I am; and I KNOW that Rocket is more happy when he can go outdoors. Now, he also appreciates being fed and being sheltered from the elements -- he's no dummy -- so I have no problem getting him to come back in when the weather is crappy, and most of the time at night. But even then, he's often inside only 10 minutes when he wants to go back out again. He desires to be FREE and that means NOT BEING CAPTIVE INDOORS.
Even Twinkie, who really is not at all suited to be an outdoor cat, and I'm sure is quite happy with his indoor life, once got out unrestrained and I saw the miracle transformation in him, too. His whole demeanor change....he just took on a look of alert vibrancy .... he just LIT UP. He took off and was gone across two neighboring yards in no time. I occasionally take him out on leash and harness, and he never WANTS to come back in.
Now, let's just not get into the whole argument about what's BETTER for cats. I don't disagree with the consensus on that. I'm just looking at it from the cat's point of view as to what they feel; and I really don't think any other cats are all that different. Including Amber's big cats. We may justify their captivity because it's better for them -- I know all the arguments and I don't disagree with them. What I don't agree with is that cats (in general) prefer
to be indoors and in captivity because they're happier
there. I really don't think we can make that conclusion after all, because in truth, most of us haven't allowed our cats the experience of being outdoors and free to come and go at will
. And so why haven't we done that
, eh? Are we afraid we'll find out they're really not quite to enthralled to be in captivity as we might think they are?
Why do we have all these behavioral problems in cats? All these problems resulting from boredom? From lack of mental and physical stimulation? Why are we always encouraging people to play with their cats? Obviously, it's because they NEED such activities. All we're doing is simulating
what they'd be doing outside. We're trying to give them something artificial in place of what their very natures crave and need. For the most part it works, and that just underscores that being indoors is NOT natural for these animals.
To those who make the argument that cats chose to live with us: yes, there's much truth in that. They chose to live in amongst us, but they didn't choose to spend their lives confined in our structures. They chose to live in amongst us because it was a mutually beneficial arrangement. They had food and shelter and enjoyed easy hunting; we gained a natural rodent exterminator and a warm, fuzzy creature that made us feel good. Again: they chose to live with us, but they didn't choose to be confined by us. Again, look at my experience: cats prefer to be free to CHOOSE to come and go; to be inside with us, or to be outside hunting mice and scratching trees and rolling in the grass. They want the FREEDOM choose to do both, as their cat spirit and cat nature leads them.
Just to let you know where I'm coming from, these thoughts and point of view AREN'T my original point of view, they're ones that I've slowly come around to over the last couple of years, based on my own experiences. Before that I was strictly an indoor cat proponent. But that belief was just based on what I learned, and when I experienced something different, my beliefs were called into question. I had to reevaluate my position and ended up taking a different position. I'd be willing to bet 99% of indoor-only people haven't reevaluated their positions. I'd be willing to be that if that had the opportunity to do so, they too might see there's two viable sides to this story. Unfortunately, I'd also say that the majority are not in a position to be able to do so, due to circumstances: living in the city, for example. Sure....being confined indoors....being held captive....is BETTER for a cat, for a big cat, for any animal in danger outdoors, for any animal not able to have access to its own natural habit....sure, it's better for the animal to have life than to be run over by a car or starve to death because all its natural prey are gone. But don't try to sell me on them being HAPPIER.
I hope my tale of my own personal experience and resultant conversion will open a few minds to the possiblity that cats aren't necessarily happier in captivity. They make the best of it and enjoy it, just like we do. I'd rather be on that yacht, but I don't have that choice. I'd be willing to bet that most cats, including Amber's big cats, would prefer having the choice to go outside and be free, because somewhere inside, it's in their very nature to be free.
"Born Free" -- ya, apropo -- I get it, now. Do you?