First, the reasons for why our cat, Domino is only allowed out on a lead and harness. We have lost three cats on the road outside our house in 27 months, we were averaging losing one cat every nine months. We used to think they knew it was a busy road and would avoid it, and play out the back of the house. However, this was proved wrong three times.
After losing Tigger in 2014, we had a few options with Domino: do nothing, and statistically we'd have lost him in another nine months; keep him as a house cat; give him back to the cat sanctuary so he could be adopted by another family; try him on a harness and lead.
Doing nothing wasn't an option and if we'd have taken him back to the cat sanctuary we had no guarantee he wouldn't get hit by a car with new owners. It seemed irresponsible to continue as we were, because Domino wasn't able to take the decision to be careful of the road, we took the decision for him; to protect him.
We tried him as only a house cat for 4 weeks or so, but he still asked to go outside most days, so we bought a lead and harness and hoped he'd be OK with it.
It didn't take long before he got used to the harness – he stands on the kitchen table by the back door and lets me put the harness on, then he leads me around the garden on the lead.
Although he can't go as far as he could when he went outside without a lead, he does get to experience the smells, the wind in his fur, digging in real earth, eating grass and basking in the sun, as he did before. And I think that enriches his life a lot, while still staying safe for him away from the road.
I know lots of people only have house cats, and it seems this is a more popular option in America than the UK. I certainly find myself having to justify why Domino 'only' goes outside on a lead, much more with British people than Americans.
In an ideal world we'd live in the countryside and Domino could roam far and wide, but we don't live in an ideal world, we live in a world of compromises, and letting him go outside on a lead is another compromise, but one I think is worth making if it means he avoids the thing that killed our other three cats.
How do you feel about house cats? Is it cruel to keep them inside? What about letting cats out on a lead, is that worse than just keeping them in as a house cats?
Until next time,
Liam Livings xx