Midas and Lulu are house cats, apart from a very brief period when they frequently escaped out of the kitchen window. I’ve had them for 4 years now and most of that time I have lived in inner London, which is just not safe for cats as it is all roads and no gardens. They are likely to have been stolen too as they are pedigree cats and theft is rife for expensive animals – they are quite clearly bred from a Siamese bloodline (they are Tonkinese). For a short while I lived in Surrey and had a garden so gave them a chance outside, but whilst Lulu was fine to go off, explore and return home, Midas would go as far as he could and then sit under a bush and cry until you came to fetch him. More than once I climbed through brambles and was covered in mud. I kept them in after that.
I now live in Melville, which by all accounts is quite a nice place for a cat. The rest of the neighbourhood cats certainly seem to think so. We have an amazing garden and it seems wrong somehow to keep the cats in. I took them out into the garden a few days ago to see if they would like it and they didn’t seem that interested. Since I bought them back in they sit forlornly at the window or patio doors staring out at the freedom that they have been denied. I feel terrible.
I read a great post about a cat owners perspective of indoor/outdoor cats. Some valid points are made, and if you read 2Summers response she has a very similar perspective as I do. I mostly kept them in because I lived in a concrete jungle, but that’s no longer the case. There is the argument that for their own safety I shouldn’t let them out, and whilst that was certainly true for us for a while, our circumstances have changed and it feels like the right time to take the plunge. The cats have not ever really been too bothered about going out either, but they seem ready now too. I’ve been reading lots of forums about letting your cats out, and there are so many scary stories about the cats being run over, or never coming back that my nerves are shredded! This was exactly the same with moving to Joburg though so maybe the benefits outweigh the risks? (Actually, if I’m honest, I’m terrified of letting the cats out, whereas I was only mildly nervous about moving to Joburg!!)
So I’ve decided to let them out, with the intention of them staying in overnight. How I am going to police this is anyone’s guess. I’m so nervous it is unreal. They have never really been out before so how will they handle it? Lulu’s a tough cookie and I’m not worried as much about her, but Midas is all looks so I’m worried how he will cope outside of our garden. I’m quite worried about the chemicals that some people use in their garden to control pests/weeds – Midas eats plants! I’m also worried about the many electric fence’s around. Everyone that I have spoken to has said that somehow the cats know not to go near them, or if they do they soon learn their lesson. I’m still worried that I am going to find a crispy cat on the floor though!
So the first stop is going to be the pet shop for a collar and id tag. I’m having a really hard time finding any cat stuff in pet shops in Joburg – there are so many dog products it’s unbelievable but cats are not as popular here as they are in the UK. I miss Pets At Home so much it hurts! If anyone knows of any really well stocked pet shops let me know! My best find so far is in the mall at Cresta, but their cat selection is also very small.
They are both neutered, micro-chipped and have had all of their vaccinations so nothing to worry about there. Now to find out how to train a cat to come home, thanks to Midas’s inability to be cat-like and do it naturally (seriously, he doesn’t even land on his feet every time!). Our landlord had a great idea to create a document with their picture and our contact details. We then take copies to the local vets and all of the surrounding neighbours so that they all know who to call if there are any problems. I’m definitely going to do this.
Watch this space to see if it all works out. I’m definitely way more worked up about this than they are.