Outdoor Cats, Outdoor People


Much consternation has been expressed by our friends and family members about our black cat Bagheera in her new home in Levanto.  Whereas in Parma she was a pampered indoor-outdoor cat, coming and going as she pleased, at all hours of the day or night, often returning for nothing more than food on romantic summer nights, in Levanto she has transformed into a proper outdoor beast, not allowed inside the confines of the house even on the coldest night (which, as you may know, ain’t that cold here).  She couldn’t be happier.  Her days are spent chasing and catching mice, birds, lizards, and snakes; or evading dogs and hawks; climbing trees, snoozing in the sun, roving the hills.

Yet everyone is concerned about her well-being.  Where is she?  How is she? Is she OK?

These holidays, we’re all in Parma with my in-laws, and while we feel fine leaving Bagheera for three or four nights over a weekend, 9 nights seemed too much, so we brought her along.  From the liberty of the Ligurian hills, the walls of a Parma home were too tight a fit for her.  In a moment on Christmas Eve when the level of alcoholic and caloric consumption had reached its maximum, she gave us all the slip.

Of course, being a cat of significant resources, she showed back up 24 hours later.  But that’s not the point.

Cats are certainly happier (if we can use such a word with cats) when they live outside.  And people?

We talk a lot about the health of animals when they are stuck inside all the time.  Germany has even legislated the number of times a dog must be taken out for a walk by its owners.  Do we, as humans, need to get walked more often too?

For five days now, I have been indoors, going from one home to another, one meal to another.  It’s been very nice,great to see friends and family, and rather relaxing, and I’m not complaining.  But it’s also been soporific.  I feel less sharp, less alert.  Less inspired.  I miss my trees, my garden, my hills.  I miss the sea.  Even if I can’t see it from my home, I know it is there, and its air refreshes me.

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