Letting your full-time indoor Maine Coon into the garden (backyard) for the first time

MC steps out into the garden for the first time
MC, Foxie, steps out into the garden for the first time. Screenshot.

This is an interesting little video for me. It shows the initial caution when the Maine Coon (MC) - Foxie - is allowed into the garden followed by intense curiosity. The caution comes from what I'd describe as 'feline agoraphobia' when they are kept indoors all their lives. 

They are used to the security that the home provides. The area beyond the walls is alien territory; both interesting but potentially dangerous. It is a mix of emotions: excitement and slight anxiety.
@maxiecoon 🪴Plants vs Foxie 😸 Let’s garden adventures begin!🐾 🧡Foxie enjoys being in a garden 😸 We are not sure what plants we have there, so we’ll just wait and see what will grow 👀 (if Foxie doesn’t destroy them 🤦🏻‍♀️, he tries to sit in a planter when he has a chance 😸🪴). As previous owners of this house also have cats, these plants should be safe ✨ Anyways, Foxie is more interested in insects and bugs living there 👅 No upset tummies so far 🤞 #lifewithcats #gardenlife #mainecoonsoftiktok #catsofuk #maxiecoon ♬ original sound - 🐱🖤Maxie & Foxie🧡🐱

Foxie stops at the boundary of the home with the backyard and pauses to check for danger but is compelled to move forward and explore. The video points to a major issue for me with keeping domestic cats indoors full-time, which is pretty much a necessity for the MC; the usual lack of mental stimulation in the perceived sterile human home environment. No criticism intended. It concerns the general situation with indoor cats.

Often humans can do a lot better to make the home interesting from the cat's perspective as well as pleasant from the human perspective. It is called 'environmental enrichment'. The garden is environmentally enriched!

I've seen full-time indoor cats stop at the patio doors to the exterior and refuse to go further as they were so indoctrinated into home living. It is mental programming.

This was Foxie's first venture outside. The owner who runs a successful TikTok page about their MCs probably struggled to think up a new video (there is always a lot of pressure to find new material) and dreamt up a visit to the 'garden'.

They are obviously English as the Brits call backyards 'gardens'. The big issue is safety. How did that aspect of the trip pan out? Did the caregiver/video maker struggle to get Foxie back in the home? And watch out for those plants. The video maker says that they are unsure what plants they have. They should know really because a lot of plants are toxic to cats. All bar one of the popular houseplants are toxic to cats.

Did Foxie complain when returned to that sterile human place and did he look out of the window for the next 24 hours forlornly hoping to be let out again?

I don't see a catio! I am not suggesting that he builds one. The garden looks quite compact by American standards. But they are the best compromise between the dangers of going into the garden - they may suddenly make a dash for it over the fence! - and the security of the full-time indoor life.


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