Tuesday 15 February 2005 1.46pm
Ah, one of my favourite topics - after handbags, that is - personally I'm with TLMJJ on this one.
Cats are a mass of contradictions. On the one hand, they are very territorial, and actively dislike sharing their territory with another cat unless they grew up together, or the second cat was introduced as a kitten (hence no threat to the existing adult cat). On the other hand, they are surprisingly social creatures who need regular amounts of attention, affection and companionship.
There is also a growing movement (in the US to be fair) that it is actually much healthier and fairer to keep an indoor cat than an outdoor one. Better for the cat healthwise (less risk of FIV and RTAs), better for the cat mentally (they have an established territory and don't need constantly to fight off other cats who may be bigger and stronger) and better for the local ecosystem (cats kill for fun, not for food and there is seemingly no limit to the amount of small birds and rodents they can get through in a day.
Couple of other thoughts:
It is very difficult to impossible to keep a cat who is used to being outdoors as an indoor cat. Get a kitten or a cat who has always stayed indoors.
Don't get a cat if you think you will be away from home a lot or regularly spend the majority of your evenings out. Cats need surprising amounts of company and love and affection.
Make sure there's lots of stuff for your cat to play with when you are in and when you are out. There are lots of cat toys on the market, but I have had most success with long trailing ribbons (80p a metre from John Lewis) and the paper tickets which dry cleaners put on your clothes (when pounced on from a great height, these tend to fly up as if they have a life of their own and then get chased throughout the flat).
Avoid very active or predatory breeds of cat - like ocicats for instance - which need lots of exercise.
Grow your own grass and catnip.
The only downside I can immediately think of is not really being able to have any of the cut flowers I really like in the flat any more (as a lot of flowers are poisonous to cats).
The final way I deal with this issue is actually to take my kitty out for a walk on a lead. Yes, I know, it sounds nuts, but she really likes it (I think she is a little unusal in this however). I got a walking jacket from Metpets in the US (see here