Tips for a Happy Indoor Cat

t may seem beneficial to let your cat roam the outdoors, but many dangers come with the new territory.  Many domesticated cats end up hurt, lost, or killed when they are permitted a life outdoors.  Some risks include, but are not limited to:

  • Cats do not have an innate ability to avoid traffic and many are hit by cars or other vehicles every year.  Other man-made dangers include abuse from other humans as some people think it is “fun” to torture or shoot outdoor cats.
  • Your outdoor cat may not come home and wind up lost.  While your kitty may show up at your local shelter and return home, this is unlikely as only 2% of cat owners find their lost cats at a shelter.
  • Cats may be exposed to toxins or poisons outside.  Common flowers like lilies or azaleas are deadly to cats and are often planted in gardens.  Also, antifreeze is commonly eaten by cats since it has a pleasant taste but can be fatal and may be left out by a neighbor.
  • Wild animals or even other domesticated dogs or cats may attack your feline companion.  Even if the wounds are not fatal, they will still need treatment from your veterinarian to prevent further damage and infection.

So it seems pretty clear that an indoor cat is a safe cat.  Some may say, “isn’t it cruel to keep them indoors?”  Not if you provide them with enrichment!  You can keep your cat physically as well as mentally active in the safety of your own home.  Here are just a few ways you can help your cat stay in tip-top shape inside.

1)  Daily playtime:  It’s as simple as that.  Many cats get bored in their homes which drives them outside for new mental challenges.  Designated daily playtime keeps them stimulated and happy right at home while also giving you both quality bonding time.  You can use fancy toys from the pet store or even paper bags and cardboard boxes.  Be sure to switch out toys occasionally to keep it fun and interesting for your kitty.

2)  Set up a cat tree or a cat walkway:  You can either make these yourself or purchase them from a wide variety of pet stores.  Cat trees are not simply fun or decoration for your cat; cats climb up trees out in the wild for comfort and safety so your cat feels the need to do the same.  Cat walkways are attached to walls in your home and allow your cat to walk through the room from a height.  This provides a similar comforting effect to the cat tree.  Both of these options also keep your cat in tip top shape as they encourage exercise in the home.

3)  Going on walks:  If your cat is just dying to get outside, you can try using a harness and leash to take your kitty out for a walk.  Be sure that your cat is fully vaccinated and is on parasite prevention (like Revolution) before taking walks.  Starting your cat young is ideal in getting them used to the harness and leash, but gradually introducing your adult cat to the harness and leash can also teach your cat that walks can be fun!

4)  Window perches:  Setting up a perch (either one you’ve made or one you’ve purchased) that allows your cat to get a better view out the window can keep your cat entertained for hours.  Looking out the window at birds, squirrels, and other critters is like kitty TV!

5)  Building a catio:  If you’ve never heard of a catio, it’s a cat patio!  An enclosed patio for your cat allows them the joy of nature without its dangers.  This patio can extend outside of a window or be its own entity.  For more information on catio qualifications, check out this article.

6) Playing food games:  Set up an activity in which the reward is food!  Cats may be picky eaters, but every feline companion has a favorite canned food or treat!  You can buy an interactive cat feeder, or make one yourself out of cardboard tubes!

Have you tried any of these methods to keep your indoor cat entertained?  Let us know in the comments below how they worked for you!