Our kitties have always been indoor-only cats, but growing up, my family had indoor/outdoor cats that could come and go as they pleased. The other ‘going’ was generally outside, too, which saved us (me) from having to scoop the litter box. Of the first three cats I had, two got lost (or so I was told. Later, I think I found out what “lost” really meant, but I didn’t ask any further questions) and one, Freddie, had to be “put to sleep”. (Ah, euphemisms!) She had attacked the litter of kittens she’d had while we were out of the house.
The next cat I remember, was Felix. He was a huge black and white boy who could stretch himself out nearly the full length of our tan loveseat. I was about nine years old when we got him. I loved my Feevee. He got feline leukemia, a contagious disease.
Ezmerelda, my little black and white girl, came to us from the B&I in Tacoma, which I was later told was a “puppy mill” (or cat mill)*. I didn’t know exactly what that meant then, and couldn’t help that we had already gotten her from there.
She was an independent girl, a little prissy, who, when I got home from school, would jump up and give me her nose as I put out my forefinger. She’d sometimes play hide-and-seek with me. I’d say, “Ez!” and watch her as I backed around the couch or a corner. That would get her attention and she’d come toward me. Then, I’d pop back out and gasp or squeal, then go back to hiding and she’d run toward me and ‘find’ me. We might do this a few times, then I’d grab her, pick her up and give her lots of kisses until she scrambled out of my arms.
My little Ezzr died at age 10 of something unknown that wouldn’t allow her to keep any food in her. She got thinner and thinner and finally, was taken to the vet for the last time.
*Now, I know that an animal “mill” is not a farm with a Holland-inspired structure, but anywhere that buys animals from people who breed them with no regard for the animals themselves- just the amount of money they can bring in, and sells them like a product. I don’t know that the B&I is or was a mill, but I only get my cats from shelters.
The point of all of this is that I feel more secure having indoor cats, but I want them to be able to feel the fun of the outdoors, too. So, this spring, the in-laws came over from the East coast and we built a screened porch for the cats…and us. It took a few full days and thankfully, I didn’t have to be too involved (I helped stain the wood and held things in place a few times) and now it’s a lovely place for all of us.
The first time we opened the doors, the cats bobbed their heads nervously and stepped cautiously out into their new space. Four of the kids went out and explored, but Violet and Ella were not interested. We got a set of outdoor furniture and the cats like to climb in, on and around it all. Violet has since ventured out on her own (we’re so proud!), but Ella hasn’t…yet.