How could taming an outdoor cat possibly be a bad thing?
Ideally all cats would have safe, indoor homes. Unfortunately, many cats will never be suitable for indoor life. Cats that have never had extensive contact with humans at an early age (unsocialized), seldom can become well-adapted pets. They will almost always view contact with people as frightening, and will avoid it. Cats who have spent their entire lives outdoors can sometimes adapt to indoor life, but it is a very slow, stressful process.
Things to consider before you think about taming an outdoor cat:
- Cats may behave much differently in captivity than in casual contact outdoors. They may panic in an effort to escape, injuring themselves and damaging things within the home.
- After 10-12 weeks of age, most cats' behaviors are well established, so even taming an older kitten, let alone an adult cat, can be difficult, and in some cases im possible.
- What happens if the cat cannot be tamed? Do you know when to quit? IndyFeral believes that attempting to tame a cat for more than 3 months is unduly stressful on the cat. Will you return it outdoors, if it cannot be tamed? Has the weather changed since the cat was brought indoors, and will it suffer by going outdoors in radically different weather to which it has not had a chance to acclimate?
- Bringing an animal indoors is stressful to them. This stress may cause behavior problems and illness. Are you prepared to deal with spraying or elimination outside the litter box? Are you ready to provide medical care to a sick cat that you may not be able to handle?
- Bringing another animal into a household with existing animals causes stress to them as well. A household with animals is an intricate environment. Consider that the house and it's occupants are the only world your pets know. Bringing in another animal is an enormous disruption to their world. It may cause them to have behavior problems and illness.
- If the cat is healthy outdoors, what is the benefit to them to come indoors? Is it worth the risk of putting them through months of stress and confinement, only to find out they cannot be tamed? Please try to make sure the cat's well-being is your primary concern. Many people find it painful to see cats outdoors because they feel the cats are miserable, or all cats must be indoors with people to be happy. Or that a cat is better off to be "humanely killed" than to live outdoors. Many of these outdoor cats have more in common with wildlife, than your indoor pet cat. Would you attempt to tame a possum or raccoon? Would you "humanely kill" a raccoon because it can't cuddle with a person at night? Should a cute, fuzzy squirrel be euthanized, rather than run the risk that it might be hit by a car some day?
- For a cat whose home is the outdoors, adequate food, water and shelter are sometimes all you need to do to improve their lives. Be open to the idea that like people, not all cats are the same.
IndyFeral's position on taming free-roaming cats
Free-roaming cats come from diverse backgrounds. As such, it is
nearly impossible to predict if a stray or feral cat can be successfully socialized
to the degree that would make it suitable for adoption. Not only is it labor
and time intensive, but also the outcome is uncertain. Even a socialized cat
may have been abandoned because it exhibited an undesirable behavior. The adoption
of a cat with unknown behavior problems, or one that is poorly socialized will
put the adoptive owner in a difficult position and will often lead to the cat
being abandoned again, or relinquished to a shelter. For this reason, if the
cat is doing well in its current colony, we believe it is best to leave the
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