If you recall, we adopted a couple of new cats last November, adding to our feline family. One of those cats is a large orange Tabby named Jynx.  For the longest time after we first adopted him, he would sit up in the cat tree, looking out the window into the world.  Since this was during the winter, we did not fully appreciate why he was doing that.  Was he being anti-social?  Was he unhappy?  After a while, he gradually moved away from spending a lot of time on the cat tree and interacting more with the other cats.  This summer, we came to realize what he was doing when we first got him – he was longing for the outside world.

It started out subtle; the usual eagerness found in cats to be near open doors or windows, taking in the fresh air from the outdoors.  It moved up to standing vigil at the door, regardless of whether the door was open or closed, or perching atop the tall freezer by the door.  Eventually, he started to make escape attempts, working to force his way out the slightest opening.  One time, Daniel even obliged his longings and let him out for a supervised jaunt outdoors.  We eventually took another look at Jynx’s adoption paperwork from Animal Control, and the form indicated that he was previously an indoor/outdoor cat.

Michelle became convinced that the right thing to do was to let him start to be an outdoor cat.  He had noticeably gained weight, and he seemed to be unhappy, forced to remain indoors while longing for the freedom of the wild.  Think of him as a feline “Buck” wanting to run with the other outdoor neighborhood cats.  Oh yes, Jynx has to watch them every day from the picture window in the dining room as they prowl the perimeter of the property, looking for the next small thing to kill.

But, there were a few things that needed to change before Jynx could have his freedom.  First, we needed to update his microchip and get him some tags in the event he went on a too-long walkabout.  Second, he had to be up-to-date on the important inoculations for outdoor cats, namely feline leukemia.  Finally, there was the matter of the fur.  Jynx is not only a big cat, he has long, thick fur that tends to mat up a bit.  Not that brushing him is much of a help, because, unlike the other cats, he hates getting brushed.  Some of the other cats act more like it is an aphrodisiac – which is a bit disturbing to say the least – than a grooming ritual.  But then again, there always seems to be somewhat of  a sensual component to feline grooming.  I agreed when we took Jynx in to get his teeth cleaned that trimming his fur was a good idea.  When he came home, though, the look of shame on his face matched the horror on my own – the vet had given him a notorious “Lion” cut.

But the big barrier to Jynx’s running wild in the end is my reluctance.  My childhood experiences with outdoor cats did not end well for the cats, and we got Jynx as a “replacement” cat after losing Tash.  The thought of putting Jynx at risk by letting him roam about in the neighborhood sent unpleasant tinglings up and down my spine.  Then, I got an earful from a woman at the Bird TLC event about the evils of letting cats run around outdoors and the senseless slaughter that ensues on the local avian populations.  I could nod in agreement because I like our neighborhood birds and it also seemed like a good excuse to oppose Operation Jynx Liberation.

With the first of his two feline leukemia shots taken care of, we allowed Jynx the opportunity for a supervised visit in the backyard during a rare sunny day in our summer of rain and gloom.  Daniel was in charge of keeping an eye on him, but I sat at our lawn table, eating lunch with Michelle and watching nervously.  Jynx was definitely excited to be outdoors, but also working his way around cautiously, taking in all the smells and sounds with an attention to detail found in a military inspector.  After Jynx became increasingly animated and tough to follow around, I aborted the outdoor visit and back inside he went.

We have provided Jynx a couple more supervised visits since then, and I still remain reluctant to let freedom ring for him.  He now has his second shot, and the only thing between Jynx and the world is me.  Time will tell if my reluctance breaks.

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