If you started reading this blog because you thought I might discuss the finer points of the '90s cartoon series on Nickelodeon, sorry! This blog is about two precious and precocious cats that found their way into my parents’ loving home—or, I guess I should say, outside their loving home.
Ren and Stimpy were wreaking havoc with indoor behavioral elimination issues where they lived previously. Their owner could no longer tolerate the misplaced spots of urination and worse that had become nearly daily occurrences. So my Mom and Dad, eternal animal lovers, intervened and said they would take them in, only if they could keep the cats outside.
So Ren and Stimpy, two sisters from the same litter—not boys, despite their names—began to live in my parents’ garage after being strictly indoor cats for about 14 years. How did they handle this drastic change?
My parents say that at first Ren (pictured above) and Stimpy (pictured below) were a bit disoriented. They hid out in the garage, wedging themselves between walls and cabinets and avoiding that strange pet door that led outside. Or they sheltered themselves in the soft dirt under the chimney outside. Eventually, they began wandering about the great outdoors, usually confining themselves to my parents’ property and always coming back for food and caresses. Stimpy, especially vocal, would tell my parents all about her day. When my parents were out doing yard work, Ren and Stimpy were constant companions. On occasions when invited into the house, they would come in briefly, but almost immediately wanted to go back outside where they were more comfortable.
I bring up Ren and Stimpy because a debate has been bubbling in the pages of Veterinary Medicine since we published an article in our November 2011 issue that discussed letting cats with severe behavior problems—usually elimination-related—live outside instead of euthanizing them. See dvm360.com/outdoorcats for links to the original article and several letters we’ve received from readers on the topic. Some think it would be too traumatic to cats used to living indoors to suddenly have to confront the outside world and its dangers. Others think, why wouldn’t you try any solution before turning to euthanasia in these cases?
What are your thoughts on this sensitive subject? We’d love to hear them. See the reader discussion started by Dr. Heather Lewellen, our medical editor, here.
You can probably tell where I lean on the issue because of Ren and Stimpy. Stimpy lived until she was 17, and Ren lived two more years, dying at the age of 19 just this past January. They made my parents’ days when they arrived home from work, greeted by these two sweet girls. They lived happy, healthy lives outdoors. Of course, not all owners are my Mom and Dad and not all cats are Ren and Stimpy—four loving souls who found each other at a time of need.
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