The image of neighbors engaging in social contact has been fading like an old photograph from the middle of the 20th century. In 2000, Harvard public policy professor Robert Putnam published Bowling Alone, a study of the decline of trust in (American) communities. Putnam documented how, since World War II, people have slowly become more and more disconnected from the traditional civic institutions of American life—things like local government meetings, church services, voter participation, and union membership; technology has been “individualizing” leisure time, testing the bonds that hold society together. But you know who can save them from cracking? Cats.
Just take a look at Billy, for example.
His owner Olga Shipunova, 29, and her partner Zack King, 37, became pen pals with one of their neighbors, and it was all thanks to their furry little buddy. One evening, Billy returned to their home in Hackney, London, with a note tucked under his collar, and it just escalated wholesomely.
Billy is quite the character! “He is feisty, curious, and independent,” Zack told us. “He’s friendly but affectionate on his own terms.”
As you can probably tell, the cat loves exploring the outdoors. “He has a cat flap so he comes and goes as he chooses. He has no timetable—sometimes he will be gone for a whole day or a whole night (he likes to mix things up). The only real trouble he makes is with the local mouse community. However, as he usually brings them back alive, we have humane traps so we are able to set them free again.”
Zack said the conversation is still going, but the pen pals have no plans to meet up. “To be honest, with modern communication all being online, it’s nice to have some mystery and intrigue,” he explained.
“With so many cats likely visiting other homes, maybe others should reach out via cat delivery,” he added.
Cats tend to be curious natural explorers. While some cats may be timid and downright wary of venturing into an unknown environment full of unfamiliar sensory experiences, many want to go outside especially once they have tasted the outdoor freedom. New sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and smells can really intrigue them. If your cat seems interested in venturing out (for example, waits longingly at the door), it is worth considering some of the potential advantages and disadvantages of outdoor life. After all, every cat and every situation is different.