Thursday, July 11, 2013

The perils of Finn

When I was a child, all cats were outdoor cats. Just like Fred Flintstone, every night before bed, my dad threw what cats we had at the time outside. Consequently, we went through a lot of cats. In more modern times, we go through a lot of cat litter. At some point, most cats became indoor cats.

Then along came Finn. Despite his history as a stray, I tried to turn him into an indoor cat. During the winter, he tolerated this state of affairs, but once the weather warmed, he wanted OUT. In the evening, if I sat on the couch, he'd bite my toes. If I went to bed, he would chase me down the hall and bite my ankles. What part of "me-OUT" did I not understand? What part of dogs, cars, and neighborhood boys with pellet guns did Finn not understand?

I tried to exercise him by dragging a string behind me while I jogged in the house. I bought him toys and a laser pointer and catnip. I tried taking him out in a harness and lead, but after about 15 seconds of rolling on the ground he wriggled out of the harness. He was so unhappy that I wondered if I had made a mistake by taking him in.

Finally, we reached a compromise: he can go out with me while I garden, and he can go out alone at night after dark, once the birds have bedded down. I microchipped him and he wears a break-away collar and I've had to accept the fact that he might not be waiting on the patio in the morning, but he is much happier.

He doesn't go out every night. One morning when he came in a bit late, he seemed spooked. That night I heard an owl and wondered if there had been an encounter, as Finn was content to stay in for a change. When there were a lot of fireworks around the Fourth, he was also disinclined to venture out. But usually he starts complaining after supper, wants me to sit on the patio with him a bit, then he disappears into the dusk.

I won't say there have not been casualties, especially of the bunny kind. Finn must have been a true stray, as he frequently eats what he catches (a sight that kills my appetite). I was hoping he was sticking close to home, but a neighbor at the end of the street found one of his collars (which DO break away). As long as he wanders in that direction, he should be okay; the other way lies a busy street. He also must have run-ins with other cats, as he comes home with a scratch or two on occasion.

During the day, he sleeps the sleep of the dead. If I'm home, he is usually close by. If I take a nap on the couch, he is in my lap. He likes/hates to be brushed, depending on his mood. He has discovered the joy of leftovers. The day I brought home Port-o-Pit chicken, the look on his face while he sat across the diningroom table from me was priceless - utter incredulity that there was CHICKEN and *I* was eating it, not him.

I hope winter weather and aging take away some of his desire to wander. He is such a nice cat - calm, friendly, handsome - that I would like to have him around for a long time.


  1. What a beautiful tribute to your cat! I love the fact that you are honoring his spirit and letting him run free. I realize that being an indoor cat is safer, but just as with we humans, sometimes taking the 'safe' option is actually more psychologically damaging.

  2. My cat was an indoor only cat, and I always felt bad about that but her few forays out when she was young convinced me that she'd never survive out there. Finn is likely much more savvy, although that won't stop you from worrying. My neighbor across the street has a 14-year-old tabby that I don't see for months at a time; just when I think traffic or raccoons have got her, she reappears, which is like a little gift every time.

  3. Our late cat was determined to go outside. Every time we opened the door was a pitched battle. Finally we gave in and let her go outside. She killed a few birds, which I felt bad about. Also a lot of mice and voles, which I did not feel the slightest guilt over.