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September 05, 2004

Domestic

At 6:30 this morning, the temperature was almost cool. I opened both the front and back doors to let in some air; it smelt faintly of rain even though the sky was clear and the ground dry. Both cats take turns sitting at each door; Kitty sits there calmly, taking in the scents and sights, moving resignedly every time Charlie comes up. He's not content, something in the air gets him excited and he's restlessly moving between doors to see what's what, meowing anxiously. Finally, I decide to close the doors. Front door, no problem, but when I open the back screen door to close the glass door, out he runs. He normally isn't that aggressive trying to get outside, and he makes it to real dirt before he stops. (he normally gets to the porch and then is overwhelmed by the unfamiliarity of the out of doors). I go and pick him up and bring him inside; his body is tense and resisting my hold.

It always makes me feel cruel, keeping them inside. Here's a difference between cats and children: children can listen and understand explanations. Well, and children can't jump as high. Our yard is totally enclosed; with children I can say "Stay in the yard" and it's likely they wouldn't be able to get out even if they wanted to. With cats, though, I can't explain that if they go outside, they have to stay in the yard because it's safe. They can jump over the 6 foot walls, they can squeeze under the gate. And they don't understand that outside the yard are dogs, cars, humans (which I don't trust with animals), other mean cats, and countless harmful things they could step on or eat. Outside the yard is nothing but hurt and death for them. But I can't explain that in a way they can understand.

So, indoors they must remain, confined to mere glimpses and smells of the outside world. But here they're safe, it's all they've known in their little lives, and all their needs and desires are met - except being able to go outside.

I'm sure I agonize over it more than they do.

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