Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"My Cats Are Safely Indoors"

Wellll...this turns out to be not quite accurate. Portia, our retarded orange tabby cat, shows no interest whatsoever in going outside. Open a door and she cowers. But Molly, the calico, will shoot out between your legs every chance she gets. She gets out, briefly, about once every six weeks.

There's nothing you can do, either, once she's out, but wait for her to come to the back steps and meow to be be let in again. That may take an hour or so; ten minutes in cold weather or rain.

And that's why she still needs rabies vaccinations and flea and tick and heartworm medicine (expensive stuff!), and that's how she got hurt recently and is lucky to be alive.

She is missing big patches of fur and has three wounds: two long gashes on her neck, one below and one on top, and a smaller elongated gash on the side of her neck. There are puncture wounds within those gashes, and they aren't teeth marks, either. They're talons. A raptor's talons really are sharp as razor blades.

A Great Horned Owl can carry about 1.75 pounds. A Red Tailed Hawk can carry 2.5 pounds. A Bald Eagle, which we also have here, can carry up to 12 pounds for a short distance. But these birds don't necessarily carry their prey away. If undisturbed, some of them actually prefer to eat their prey on the ground right where they kill it. That means the above weight limitations do not apply. A hungry hawk will try to kill anything it thinks it can.

That includes cats. And Chihuahuas and Yorkies and Toy Poodles and pretty much anything under 25 pounds.

Molly weighs 9 pounds. In some ways it's surprising she got away, although if you knew this cat, you'd pity any bird of prey that messed with her!

Still, guard your pets. If you can't keep them indoors, keep them in a covered pen. And if the cover is of wire, put a tarp over it, too. What the hawks can't see from aloft they won't come down to investigate more closely. Be sure the wire mesh is too small for a bird's claws to go through. I once watched a hawk grab one of my ducklings right through the wire of the pen! Of course he couldn't get the duckling out, but the duckling was still dead.

Let Molly's misfortune be a warning. She won't heed it, but I hope you will.


Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Ouch !
Poor Molly !!!!

Mimi said...

Yikes! Maybe she has learned her lesson.
We have a cat that used to get out often, and then hide (like she was embarassed she'd gotten out) but once she was out for a few weeks, and when we found her, she'd gotten her front leg through her collar, and had injured her shoulder. Now, she *never* goes out.

Dixie said...

I know you'll just hate this but we do allow our indoor cat to go outside at will. It is dangerous out there...but there is danger in living. Do you by any chance get the daily emails from Dr. Jon? I hardly ever read them but the other day I caught one that partially reflected my position on the subject.

Someone wrote to Dr. Jon saying:

"I think your article about keeping cats indoors versus outdoors is completely one-sided. There is no mention that a cat will basically be happier if let outside to fulfill it's natural life instincts. Your child would also probably have a longer life expectancy if you kept it locked in the house all day, but would be a stunted human being. Shouldn't cats be allowed to go out and experience life?"

Besides...all that tick and flea and heartworm medication keep the lights on and the heat pump going on this end! :)

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Mimi, I'm very glad your cat learned, but I am very sure mine won't. Not that she isn't smart; she is very, very smart! But she's so willful. What she wants, she goes for, no matter what. She has known since kittenhood not to jump up onto kitchen counters, but she still does it anyway. If you tell her, "Get down!" she will, because she knows if she doesn't, she will be swiftly and unceremoniously removed. But she will never get down without first pausing to issue a long, loud yowl of protest.

Dixie, I'm glad to be keeping the greenbacks flowing to your industry, but we'll have to disagree about where cats should be. One trouble with letting a cat "fulfill it's natural life instincts" is that those instincts include killing birds and small mammals and producing unwanted kittens.

Indoors can (and should) be enriched so a cat is perfectly happy there.