Cat runs and enclosures are becoming increasingly popular and there are many reasons why this is happening. Cats are wonderful pets but the days of allowing them to freely roam the neighbourhood day and night are over. Community expectations with respect to keeping domestic felines are becoming less forgiving than any other time in history. Not that cats have ever really been completely tolerated but people are more educated now about how destructive cats are on the environment. And because this is a big issue for green groups, it gets a lot of support from the mainstream media taking every opportunity to remind the public of how bad their moggy is for the world unless its behaviour is strictly controlled.
Environmentally, the extinction of numerous native species of wildlife has been attributed to wild “domestic” cats so there’s no doubt this is a huge problem and also a problem you probably have heard mentioned many times before… Personally, although I do care about the environment, it’s the other behavioural traits of cats in my own local environment that annoy/affect me more, things like:
- Fighting with other cats at night – Who hasn’t been woken up in the middle of the night by the awful sounds of cats fighting outside your bedroom window? The clashing of neighbourhood cats in the darkness is a preventable scenario that only happens because lazy people don’t care about their fellow citizens or their own pets enough to simply secure them at night.
- They get hit by vehicles – I can understand how the sight of a cat lying motionless in the centre of the street would come as a relief for some people, particularly if they were kept awake the night before by the animal’s throaty howling, but it’s not a very nice thing to happen. Firstly, it’s dangerous for the cat and humans to have domestic animals running around the streets and secondly it’s a sad tragedy for the owners of the cat (often kids) and other people who witness it. Cats are not very good at judging road crossings when confused by vehicle headlights or trying to judge the speed of the threat moving past and that’s the reason why they get run over so often.
- They do their business in unwanted places – Children’s sand pits, vegetable gardens, and tomcats spraying over cars or up house walls are some of the places cats love to pee and poo. Cats kill flower beds with their potent urine, they ruin paintwork, and it’s a disgusting experience to dig up fresh cat do-do when planting seedlings in your newly tilled vegetable patch. Not only does cat waste stink and kill vegetation it’s also unhealthy due to the potential spread of diseases especially if done in a garden meant for food production.
- They run away and turn wild – Yes this is bad environmentally when a pet cat never comes back to its original home and thus turns into a wild animal, however, it’s also annoying because they tend to become scavengers around urban areas wreaking havoc as they try to find food. When I was overseas with the Army in East Timor besides our security work we also had to trap cats as a preventative measure in order to stop these filthy starving creatures from continually raiding our camp!
I’m sure many of you can come up with plenty of other reasons why cats should be controlled but the above are just the main ones I came up with off the top of my head – feel free to mention yours in the comments section. I do understand the importance of the environmentalist argument, nevertheless, I believe the best way to change human behaviour is by explaining how a certain behaviour is seen as socially unacceptable by your peers in a way that affects them directly rather than trying to guilt people about how mismanaging your pet cat affects an endangered marsupial, for instance.
So for the reasons I outlined above I urge all cat owners to have a cat run or enclosure – at least lock their cat inside the house at nightfall. From experience though, keeping your cat inside from dusk to dawn is really not good enough. I mean, I have always kept our cats locked up after dark by either keeping them inside or putting them to bed in a purpose built cat enclosure in the backyard for the night and although I felt this was adequate I was never truly happy leaving them loose to go and come as they please throughout the day.
It’s really difficult to contain a cat or teach it to stay in your own yard because unlike a dog cats can climb. Sure, we’ve had neighbours that have loved our cats like they were their own and even fed them! But, we’ve also had neighbours that weren’t too thrilled about an unannounced visit from our tomcat. This is a seriously good point if you do love your cat you can no longer assume that your neighbours will likely be “good” people and tolerant enough to shoo-off your cat from unwanted visits to their property. Unfortunately, due to the erosion of values in our society, it’s possible more now than ever before that your cat could come to harm at the hands of people around you if it ventures away from your home.
Therefore, if you are at all concerned about your cat/s welfare you should definitely get/build a cat run, or even better, a cat enclosure with a cat run attached and that way your pet can get the best of both worlds in having more freedom without annoying others or endangering itself.
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