by Keith Barnaby*
My name is Lars. I used to be an outdoor cat. My people would let me out to roam my domain, explore, and hunt. Over time, other outdoor cats came and went in my neighborhood. I was friends with some, especially Shadow, another young male. We played and teamed up to defend against other cats who entered our lands.
One day Shadow disappeared, and his people brought home another cat, an unspayed female. She had many kittens, the kittens had kittens, and their ranks grew exponentially. Pretty soon there were lots of cats. Unlike Shadow, the young males didn’t like me and my life changed.
Now when I crossed onto Shadow’s and my old lands, I was the one being attacked. I fought but was bitten badly. My face swelled and my people took me to a man who made me feel better.
Why I returned to Shadow’s lands, I do not know. Why I stood my ground and fought the cats instead of avoiding a fight I could not win, I do not know, but I did so repeatedly. And this time I was hurt worse than ever before.
Once I healed, my people kept me inside. They made a new room for me on the side of my house with soft walls through which I can smell and see birds and passing cats. One day a cat came too close. I hissed and lunged, forgetting about the see-through wall. I bounced off it backward. The cat was so surprised he ran away. I acted like I meant to do it, and licked my paw in a dignified manner. Taught him!
I don’t mind being an indoor cat. My people put a little swinging flap in the front door so I can go out to my special outside room any time. When I see a bird, I crouch low, stare, and think, “One, two, three…gotcha!” Then I curl up and go to sleep.
A 2013 Nature Communications study estimated that outdoor cats kill more than 1.4 billion birds annually. To protect wildlife—and your cats—please keep them indoors.
*Keith Barnaby owns www.youreldercare.com and helps seniors and their families save money, time, and pain with a flexible, customized elder life plan.