Originally Posted by calvinandhobbes
I am from Britain, where confining cats indoors is relatively unheard of, and you will probably get many funny looks if you walk into a park with a cat on a leash!
I personally think that, like humans, cats need the experience of being outdoors, seeing the 'real' world around them, and the opportunity to act naturally. For example, take those ghastly orphanages in China. Children there never see the outside world, and as a result of this, they become mentally retarded. Why should it not be so with cats?
A cat may be well-fed and safe in their house, but so is the baby in the orphanage. The baby could live a long and happy life in their little orphanage, but the caretaker of the baby is denying that baby a normal human existence. It is the same with the owner of the cat. Watching a cat who never left the house they were reared in pining for the experience of the outside world almost brings tears to my eyes. I aware of all the dangers of the 'real' world, dangers that both the cat and the baby face. But I'm sure any cat kept entirely inside would benefit from living a natural cat existance.
That's my two er.. pence. Peace.
Because a human brain is significantly different than a feline brain? You can't compare a human to a cat. A person has a much greater capacity for imagination and desire than a cat has.
Extract from Do Cats Have Intelligence
So do cats think? They don't think in the human sense of the term, but (apart from some hard-wired reflexes) they perform mental processing on incoming information and make decisions on how to act. They have an internal representation of the physical world, they comprehend certain physical laws (that objects don't cease to exist when out of sight), they have a good sense of time, they can identify other cats, a number of humans and a range of objects. These are the sort of things most humans do without conscious effort.
Intelligence is defined by human beings and is judged against human abilities. Children learn to look where someone is pointing. With cats, if you point at an object, your cat looks at your finger, not at where your finger is pointing. To attract a cat's attention to an object, you have to tap the object itself.
One measure of intelligence is self-awareness. The test for self-awareness is to see how an animal reacts to its own reflection. Humans and higher primates recognise their own image in a mirror. If you put some paint powder on a child's nose or a chimp's face and let it look in a mirror, the child or chimp will rub the blob on its own face, not the mirror. Cats first check behind the mirror for the strange cat, but soon learn that the mirror cat is not real and ignore it (learning to ignore it is necessary, otherwise its own reflection in a puddle might stop the cat from drinking). Unlike humans and higher primates, they do not appear to understand that the mirror cat is itself.
Just because a cat considered not self-aware, does not make it non-intelligent. Feline intelligence is geared to the cat's ecological niche and is constrained by physical limitations and by innate behaviours. Those innate behaviours are hard-wired into the brain for survival reasons and to free up thinking areas of the brain. In its lifetime, your cat hones its innate behaviours and learns many things that evolution did not anticipate - opening doors, mastering cat flaps, tricks (if you have the time and patience), recognising the sound of your car engine and waking you up at a set time each morning.