I was looking at the recent Evercats Poll on “Do your cats stay mainly indoors or outdoors” and I suppose I can’t say I was surprised by the result, which was that 66% of cats are indoors only.

I know that opinions on this subject differ widely between America and the UK, I would think most people in the UK would answer that their cats have access to outdoors and I suspect most US people would answer indoors only.

I know that a lot depends on the area you live in, whether or not it’s safe to let your cats enjoy the freedom of the great outdoors, and that a lot of people worry about garden birds being decimated by cats or wildlife attacking their cats.

My own opinion is that, provided it is safe to do so, cats should be as free to enjoy the sun, wind and rain as we are ourselves, I couldn’t bear to go out and enjoy my garden if my cats were sitting watching me out of the window and longing to come out and join me.

And of course I hate the thought of cats being kept indoors and declawed by people who don’t realise that it is a cat’s natural instinct to claw to stretch and care for the muscles in their legs and bodies.

Cats with access to outdoors have trees and fences to use for this purpose but indoor cats don’t and if they are not provided with scratching posts of course they’re going to use the furniture. People who declaw to protect furniture have their priorities wrong and they should not have a cat at all.

Our own two (neutered) cats, in fact all the cats we’ve ever had as part of our family, have always been free to come and go as they like during daylight hours and then kept in from evening until the morning, sometimes they don’t want to come in for the night and we have to sit up and wait for one or the other of them but the idea is that come night time they stay in with us.

I’m glossing over the subject of cats going outdoors and “doing their business” on neighbours gardens, I know that is another reason why some people think cats should be kept indoors. I can only say that our two boys would rather burst than use the litter tray we have indoors, we’ve had no comments from any of our neighbours about cat poo, so fingers crossed they go in our own garden or in the scrubby area outside the garden fence. Ignorance is bliss.

One neighbour, Fran, has 14 rescued cats, she has gathered them over the years from all of the places she has lived, she has taken in three in the 3 years she has lived next door to us. All of those cats were desperate for homes, either they were under death sentences or they were wandering homeless before she saved them.

She says that she thinks the rest of the Grove we live in would baulk a bit at 14 cats roaming in their gardens, and of course she is right so she keeps them indoors, but because she cares for their mental as well as their physical well-being she was concerned that they were being denied the pleasure of sitting in the garden in the sun, and of eating grass and of the exercise of stropping their claws on wood.

So Fran, my sister and I decided to build a cat run.

We’re all ladies over a certain age, and Fran is disabled but undaunted by all this we measured up, went and ordered the wood (amidst much merriment and ribbing from the men at the wood suppliers) and set-to early last year, just before Easter when the sun was shining.

We agreed to build it just outside of her patio doors so that she could leave the doors open for the cats to come and go as they please and so we bought metposts and banged then into the soft ground of the garden with a huge mallet, we then put two-by-twos in as uprights and put up crossbeams and strengtheners to make a frame then we covered the whole thing with plastic coated chicken wire.

It took us a long time to hammer in all the horse-shoe staples to keep the wire in place and did I say the sun was shining? Well no actually it wasn’t … every time we started it rained, every time we had the electric drill out – it rained. Every time we stopped for a tea break it rained but in the end it was done.

Then it was time to build some furniture inside the run and we bought more uprights and made benches of different heights for them to sit on, and an added benefit was that they could strop their claws on the wooden uprights.

In the end we were weary, bruised, stiff, grazed but proud of our efforts and best of all our neighbour’s cats can stroll out of the house and have the pleasure of about 15 feet of patio and garden, grass and sunshine, they sit out there safely for hours watching the birds and topping up their tans.

My point is – if three women who hardly knew one end of a screwdriver from the other could build a cat run anyone can do it.

So, have a look at your gardens – or yards – and see if you can come up with a plan to build a run, even a small one, for your cat, I swear it will enrich their lives.

Or, you can buy an Outdoor Cat Run for the best price here: http://amzn.to/dyflgJ

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