Gwyneth Bean is six and a half years old. She’s always been a little feisty and we always thought she’d make a kick ass outdoor cat. My family had lost too many cats to cars and thus at some point decided to keep them in. And A and I never lived in a place where we could let her out. So she stayed in, chased blowing leaves by running from window sill to window sill, sat by the doors and meowed to go out, always keeping the illusion of a cat who wanted to get out. There was one time when she escaped and went missing for 11 days. It was June 17, 2003. I was devastated. 11 nights later, as I walked home I heard her cry as she ran towards me, never so happy to see me. She’s been in ever since.

Bean and her brother Mr. Lou spent a year at my parents house when they were three years old. A and I could not have them at my new job (where we had to live on a college campus). During that time Bean managed to win my father over and destroy all of the framing around the door ways with her gymnastic routines – running and shimmying up the frame, climbing higher with every claw sunk in the wood. And my parents tolerated this… I managed to change the pet policy and our cats came to live with us the next year. And my parents began renovations on their house, which included all new door frames.

Mr. E arrived. Our ability to play with, let alone meet the minimal needs of our cats was pathetic. Mr. Lou was sick and we had to out him down with in weeks of Mr. E and Bean, well she got used to how things were. But she’d still pester us now and again. As we settled into life with our boy we were able to bring her back into the picture providing her with proper playing time, remembering to feed her, change her box, etc. And when we decided to move into my parent’s house, we decided we’d grant what seemed to be her life long dream of being an out door cat. Ideally she’d get her crazies out outside and just sleep indoors.

The first morning we were here A took her to be sure she was up on all her vaccinations. I wanted to wait a few days before letting her out so she would acclimate to her new home and be able to find her way back. And then she got a running start that ended at the top of a door frame. Out she went. She had no idea what hit her. She gingerly walked across the grass and literally circled the house, not straying more than two feet from the physical structure. And then she wanted to come back in.

She never asks to go out. Not even on the beautiful sunny days. (Ok, she’s so obsessed with us that once she asked to go out when A was outside walking Mr. E. And then we forgot she was out till after dark.) Other than that, she goes out when she’s bad, which is just about every morning. I know right when she’s gearing up for a climb and I will say “No Bean!” She’ll usually cry back and then do it.

A and I are flabbergasted that going outside is a punishment, when she’s spent almost seven years desperately trying to get outside. All this time I thought we were being so mean, forcing her to stay in, and now she likes it. In some ways I don’t blame here. She’s comfortable and all her needs are taken care of inside. But it’s still shocking given her behavior.

The grass is always greener. I think my cat is here to remind me of this.