There are certain milestone moments in the history of any household that, while representing small triumphs, are also tinged with a bit of sadness. Baby’s first steps. The first visit from the Tooth Fairy. High school graduation. Each represents a passage from a comfortable and familiar phase of life into something new and unknown. An opportunity to spread your wings and explore new horizons, but also a sign that something good has been lost. Such are the vicissitudes of a life well-lived. My friends, my little slice of heaven has experienced such a moment.
Isaac the cat has started going outside.
That’s him at around six months. He’s four years old now. He’s been an indoor cat for his entire life. For the first two years I lived in an apartment and couldn’t really let him go outside. After a while, alas, he started getting curious. He would sit by the door, meowing forlornly, occasionally standing up on his hind legs and stretching out his little paw to smack the doorknob ineffectually (they don’t have opposable thumbs, you know). So I would let him out for short periods of time, with me never too far away. That seemed to satisfy his wanderlust.
I moved into a house about a year and a half ago. Now I have a nice big yard for him to patrol. I am also the last house on a dead end street, which means there’s very little traffic to worry about. Still, I decided I would not encourage him to go outside, since it is rather dangerous out there for a cat and I was just as happy to have him patrolling my living room, where it is safe. On the other hand, I was not going to treat him like a prisoner. If he ever showed a clear interest in going outside I decided I would let him do so.
For a while that didn’t happen. Quite the opposite. Any time I opened the door he couldn’t run away fast enough. But last week he suddently got over it. I was sitting on my deck reading a book, enjoying the nice weather, when Isaac showed up in the window behind me. He uttered his insistent, I want something!, meow, and started pawing at the screen. I walked over to the door and Isaac met me there, still meowing. As soon as I opened the door he bolted out. Sigh.
His sister, Emily, was less impressed with the great outdoors. After seeing Isaac take his chances she reluctantly poked her head outside. She made it as far as my porch, sat there for thirty seconds, then wanted to go back in.
Anyway, Isaac has now been asking to go outside fairly regularly, and I have been letting him, so far for short periods of time. I guess I’m going to have look into flea and tick repellants, and perhaps get him a collar. A lot of my friends have cats, and most of them let their cats outside, so I guess I shouldn’t worry. But I have visions of him making himself sick eating the wrong mushroom, or bolting out into the road while chasing a squirrel, or just flat getting lost and never seeing him again. But what can you do? They grow up so fast…