Thursday, August 05, 2010

In or Out

A little episode today had my heart racing for a while and my adrenaline level cranked way up.

My husband is an early riser, and part of his morning routine, at least in the summer, is to check our swimming pool. Now that we have "new dog" Ziva, he takes her along out. She loves to race back and forth in the fenced in pool area.

This morning, just before he went out, our one cat Allie jumped up on the window ledge looking out into the pool area, and "asked" if she could go out. So, he let her out. She found her way to a great hiding place, under some myrtle growing along the pool edge. Then he went out the side door, taking Ziva along into the pool area.

Ziva was checking things out, unaware that one of the cats was out there. Then, suddenly she spied (or more likely sniffed) Allie. And Ziva offered to play. Honest. That's all she wanted to do. Allie, however, took it as a threat, and that deep seated fight or flight choice kicked in. Allie chose flight. She bounded out of the myrtle, Ziva in the chase, and jumped onto a picnic table, and then over the fence which is surrounded with arbor vitae into the great unknown.

I awakened to hearing the excited barking of Ziva. Soon, my husband appeared in the bedroom, and I said--is everything OK? No, he said, Allie ran away.

I quickly got dressed and spent the next two hours walking all over our neighborhood. looking in nooks and crannies, under bushes and plaintively calling ALLIE, ALLIE. Or rather Allie, Allie. Trying to be quiet so as not to awaken neighbors. And also trying not to make anyone think I was trying to break in to their house.

When we couldn't find her, we decided she would have to find her own way home. She is NOT an outside cat; she does not roam around the neighborhood. So we really weren't sure where she might go, or if she would find her way home. I tried to think like a cat, and figure out where she might go. No success.

We left the gate to the pool slightly ajar (something we NEVER do for obvious reasons). After three hours, my husband looked out the window overlooking the pool, and there was Allie "asking" to be let back in.

So, the in or out question? We know people whose cats are roamers. And, yes, the cats do kill birds--that bothers me.
When we first got a cat, many years ago (and were ignorant of the issue of in vs. out), we started out leaving her roam outside. That is, until one escapade. She did not come back. I went out, looking, shaking her cat food box and calling her name. After a bit, I heard the faintest "meow". And there she was--our first cat, Missy--WAY UP in the neighbor's tree. Unable to come down. So my husband dutifully climb the tree, and coaxed her to jump on to him.

That was the end of any of our cats ever going outside. The exception are these brief outings in the fenced in yard, while we are outside. Our cats have NEVER caught a bird. The most any of our cats ever did was capture a chipmunk, that the one cat then BROUGHT in the house. The poor chipmunk was scared almost to death, running around squeaking while three cats watched, puzzled.

So, on the IN OR OUT debate, we are decidedly IN people. And that is even more reinforced after today's little episode. I suspect it will be awhile before Allie "asks" to go out again.


Dog_geek said...

In. Our cats are indoor-only, even though we live on a farm. a Few years back one of our cats got out when a house guest left the sliding glass door open, and was gone for *9 days* before we found him! That's not something I want to do again!

Ruth said...

Two neighbourhood cats frequent our yard and wait by the bird feeders for a hunt. They just kill birds and do not eat them. It makes me so angry, but it is not the fault of the cats. I would like to string up the owners.

Catbird said...

I'm so glad Allie's back where she belongs!

I've heard that when dogs get spooked, they tend to keep going, while lost cats generally don't cover that much territory, and stay close to home base.

Murr Brewster said...

In. My two cats came home as kittens, so they did not have an expectation of being outside. Whatever curiosity they did have we quelled with a blast of water (one of us hiding outside with the hose, one leaving the door slightly ajar). There is much to be said for keeping a cat safe indoors but my main concern is their generally unrecognized role as a non-native predator.

Peruby said...

I have five - all indoor. I do not de-claw, either. I keep them natural (except for spaying, etc).

I have one cat that tries to get outside. The most he does is roll around on the warm cement, though. Easy enough to catch him.

I've been in the bushes looking for a cat. No, it isn't fun. I agree. I cringed each time a car approached.

I am so glad all turned out well.

Jayne said...

Glad all ended well Carolyn. That must have been quite the scare.

Anvilcloud said...

I'm an in guy, for their safety and to keep them out of neighbours' gardens.

possumlady said...

Hey, I didn't know you had a Manx? It looks like Allie's tail is the mark of a stumpy manx!

I won't get into the in/out debate but I remember when I went out of town a few years ago for a long weekend. My neighbor called me on Sunday (the day I was driving home) to tell me that Sweet Pea had gotten out and she couldn't find him. I asked when he ran out and she hesitated and said Friday night!!! She didn't want to worry me but wanted me to be aware. Needless to say, I dropped my Sunday morning activities to drive home. I got home around 4:00 and spent the afternoon and evening calling and calling for him. FINALLY around 10:00 he ran up the porch stairs like nothing was wrong. Almost NOTHING is as stressful as a lost pet.

Nance said...

Relieved with you that Allie came home safe and sound.

In our neighborhood, we have two neighbors who leave their cats out. One is a total goofball that leaps into the air after birds and butterflies, providing great entertainment. The other cat is pure white and looks great at dusk sitting on our white fence, watching the hummingbird moths on the moonflowers.

Nevertheless, Out Cats can attract feral cats and that becomes a problem for the rest of us. I've got no cats, but I think, in the age of zero-lot-line housing, most neighborhoods aren't good environments for keeping our cats outside. Condos and apartments are strictly out for out cats. That leaves small towns and rural areas, where fewer and fewer of us reside.

Mary Lee said...

Smart girl, Allie.

Heat and humidity, cars, noise, and hot pavement vs. cushions, food, air conditioning, and being queen of the house.

No brainer.

KGMom said...

Note to Christine--Allie is NOT a manx--but her tail does curl in a permanent circle. That may explain the look.

NCmountainwoman said...

Poor Allie for being frightened. Poor Ziva who only wanted to play, and poor Donna who had to go out before her morning coffee. Glad everything turned out all right.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I am an out person. You seem to have turned this post into a poll.

Cat are independent creatures, semi wild in my house. They deserves to be free. Life is shorter living outside but freedom has a price.

We have a local by-law that says cats and dogs must be kept on a leash. (This is what happens when amalgamation give town people power over country people.) When the bylaw officer shows I stare him down and tell him I do not own 360 acres so my animals can live on the end of a leash. So far he goes away shaking his head.

My cats do not hunt birds. They are well fed and if they show up with a fresh kill it is a mouse or a vole.

I keep my dog Heidi on a leash because a neighbour killed my last dog and if he did it to Heidi, I might find myself killing him.