Cats with unsupervised access to the outdoors are more prone to diseases and injuries. They can bring ticks and fleas into your home. And, in general, they have a shorter life expectancy. However, all cat owners understand the call the outdoors has on our feline friends.
Can cats be happy living an indoor life? Or, at least spending a large chunk of their time indoors? The answer is a resounding yes – if you follow these tips.
Tips for keeping your cat happy indoors
If you want the happiest, healthiest indoor cat, you need to follow these tips.
Begin keeping them indoors when young
If your cat has always been an indoor pet, they are much more likely to be happy. When you bring a kitten home, do not let them have unsupervised outdoor time. Indoor kittens still get a lot out of the tips below. However, they are much less likely to door dash or meow constantly to go outside.
When you adopt an older cat, obviously you do not have control over their outside experience. Keep them indoors and shower them with love and toys and the tips explained in the rest of this list.
Give them somewhere cozy to hide
Cats love to hide. There is a genetic component for this, as hiding provides wild cats both security and a way to hunt. Feltcave explains, “Cats are infinitely inventive when it comes to finding warmth, but they’ll love you even more if you can provide a cuddly cat cave or small, cozy hiding spot. If you place their hiding cave in a sunny indoor spot even better; the sun helps regulate cats’ body temperature and conserve energy, which is imperative for their comfort and happiness.
Provide climbing places
In addition to loving to hide, cats also like to climb. That is why it is you so often see outdoor cats in trees or on roofs. The biggest problem is that many cats can climb up but cannot get down.
Inside you have control over what your cat climbs and how high they go. Yet, if you do not want them climbing your bookshelves or refrigerator, you need to provide them some climbing places. A cat tower or two, or even a homemade climbing gym, can go a long way towards keeping your indoor cat happy.
You likely have a cat because you want to spend time with them. Show your cat some love by spending time with them every day. Interaction whether grooming, playing, or just being near them can keep an indoor cat happy. It will add affection and amusement to their lives. Plus, the more time you spend with your cat, the better you will be able to understand their unique body language and vocalizations – in other words, what they want and need.
Give them windows to lookout
Your cat may have to stay indoors, but that does not mean that they can’t experience outside. Make sure they have access to a window or two in your home. Many cats love laying in a window for hours watching the outdoors. Just make sure you provide a comfortable and large enough ledge for them to hang out on.
You can even add some stimulation by hanging a bird or squirrel feeder near the window. Your cat will love watching and pretending to hunt those wild animals.
Spay and neuter
Spayed and neutered cats are much less likely to want to roam. Sex hormones are what drive both male and female cats to wander and find a mate. The most responsible thing you can do as a cat owner is to spay and neuter your pet. This process eliminates those pesky hormones and reduces your cat’s desire to leave your house.
Use a fence or leash
Of course, you can still let your cat go outside, even if they’re a majority indoor cat. But, if they’re not used to the great outdoors, you’ll need to keep them under your control to be safe. Providing walks with a leash or letting them play in a securely fenced area will keep them safe. If you opt for the fenced area, make sure it is completely enclosed. As already stated, cats love to climb. They will find a way out of the enclosure if the top is open.
Many cat harnesses are now available to take your cat for a walk. Some cats walk better than others. Again, if you start taking a cat for a walk while they are young, training them to walk well on a leash will be much easier. Cats that are supervised outdoors are less likely to wander off or get injured or killed.
Plant some cat-friendly plants
Catnip, catmint, and cat grass are all plants that cats will gravitate towards. Bring the outdoors to your indoor cat by planting them in their own small area. Use catnip as a treat and way to calm your cat. Not all cats are susceptible to the effects of the herb, but most love munching on and smelling it. You can even find catnip toys that your kitty will adore!
A small container of cat grass is ideal for a cat who loves to roll and graze outdoors. Always check with your veterinarian before you give your cat unlimited access to cat grass or any other plant.
Get them chipped, just in case
The unfortunate reality is that you can do everything right and your cat may still get out of the house. This is even more likely if you have a cat that dashes for the door when it is opened. In order to ensure you get your cat back if it escapes, always microchip him or her and have a visible tag with its name, your name, and your contact information. This information should also be provided with the microchip.
It is completely possible for your cat to be happy indoors. Provide them love and affection, treats, toys, and access to the outdoors. They will never want to leave your home. But, keep an eye on your indoor cat for signs of compulsive behavior. Excessive scratching, licking, and chewing can indicate a health problem or boredom.
If your furry friend exhibits these signs, take him or her cat to the vet immediately. If they are healthy, then consider adding stimulation to their indoor environment. Cats can be completely happy indoors; it is just up to us to provide them with an environment where they can thrive.