So, you have an indoor cat? or you’re thinking of getting one? Although cats are natural hunters who enjoy being outdoors (when they aren’t sleeping of course), this isn’t always possible.
There are many reasons to keep a cat indoors such as;
- Living in flats/apartments
- Busy roads nearby
- Health risks/recommendations
If you are able to; it is best (and less disruptive) to decide on indoor or outdoor as a kitten. Although adult cats can be acclimatised to an indoor environment (if handled correctly), those who have been outdoor cats for a long time are more likely to become stressed, anxious or depressed if they are kept in and disrupted in this way.
Benefits of Indoor Cats
There are some added benefits to keeping your cat indoors, which are predominantly safety related, such as:
- Reduced risk of environmental poisons
- Won’t stray/get lost
- Avoiding traffic accidents
- No mice (or other) hunting surprises (you are definitely missing out)
BUT be prepared, as an indoor cat is more reliant on you for its environmental needs than an outdoor cat. Since you are solely responsibly you will have more of a role in it’s life than just feeding and changing the litter tray. In order to keep a happy cat you need to ensure it has everything it needs in its environment (your house), stimulation and further general cat care than a normal outdoor cat.
Cat Corner – I mean this literally – this is a cat’s home/safe place that they can retreat too if they feel threatened – this is more important for indoor cats because they find it harder to distance themselves from stress in the home (in the way that outdoor cats do). Ensuring a quiet, accessible place (all the time) where your cat can retreat if feeling threatened will help reduce the likelihood of stress, anxiety and related behaviourable problems. Ideally a place with a “boxed in” feeling with 3 sides covered, where it is warm, quiet and cozy.
Scratching post – Scratching is a natural behaviour of all cats. Indoor cats need an appropriate place to scratch that isn’t the furniture! For more info on this go to Day 3 of #CatWeek which covered; Cat scratching, types of scratchers, posts, tips and more!.
Litter Tray – This will need to be cleaned more frequently than an outdoor cat to ensure bad toileting behaviour doesn’t begin. Keep your litter tray away from the food and water source – cats don’t like to poop where they eat anymore than we do.
Entertainment: Without outside stimulation cats can get bored, so with indoor cats you need to give them forms of entertainment. You can do this by making their environment more exciting by adding perches, towers or adding levels to your house, cats enjoy exploring too so adding new things and changing it up is a great way to keep them amused and exploring.
Another way to entertain your cats is by playing with them, you need to make sure toys are stimulating and provide exercise. Games and toys that emulate natural hunting behaviours are usually a favourite or for the piggies you can incorporate their food as an incentive! (making them work a little for it :p) Here are some examples of the toys you can try:
Specific Indoor Cat Care
Cats can get very lonely if they don’t get regular interaction and if you are the only companion and are going to be out a lot during the day you should consider getting two (if space will allow). If you do decide to get two then it is usually best to get them together as kittens to ensure they acclimate and draw their own boundaries naturally and as they grow up together. Older cats that aren’t introduced properly can fight, have behavioural problems and be very unhappy.
Deter neighbouring cats
Try to discourage cats and foxes from your gardens (or around the house if you don’t have one) as your cat cannot go outside to lay its boundaries and warn them off themselves. This can be threatening and stressful to some cats and can make them feel unsafe – which will lead to more behavioural problems.
Just because they aren’t going outside doesn’t mean neutering still isn’t a good idea. Tom cats spray around the house and will instinctively try to leave in order to find queens. Queens in heat are messy and very noisy (amongst other things). Aside from both of these neutering can contribute to overall better behaviours and reduces stress and nervousness in cats. I discussed neutering in yesterdays post – aptly titled “Neutering Advocacy”
I know this sounds silly but make sure you have a good system in the summer for making sure you can get air circulating (for both you and your cat) whilst not risking an escapee. We had an indoor cat that fell out of a fourth story flat because we had the windows open in the summer and assumed he would be safe (there’s a reason curiosity killed the cat) he lost more than one of his lives that day (he walked away without a scratch luckily).
Indoor cats are more prone to weight loss and other health issues if they don’t get appropriate exercise. Playing with them (see “Toys for ideas” above) and keeping them amused and moving is a great way to keep a healthy kitty.
Ensuring indoor cats are well adjusted to the usual changes in routine is key to ensuring your cat doesn’t become anxious. Introducing visitors, changing the routine (e.g. the feeder) and environmental changes (whilst still allowing a “cat corner” to deal with these) is a great way to ensure your cat is appropriately acclimatised and less likely to become stressed in the future if their environment changes drastically e.g. a new baby etc. Additionally cats that are able to deal with environmental changes are less likely to develop behavioural problems relating to stress and anxiety in the future.
Indoor cats are more likely to pile on the pounds and the smaller the house/flat, the more likely they are to put on weight so you have to be careful with the amount of food you provide. Specific food for indoor cats usually provide a balanced meal alternative to the usual food for outdoor cats. Also make sure you pay attention to serving sizes (just like with humans) as it doesn’t take long for the extra snacks to be noticeable around the furry waist.
Why not check out my “Cat Care” Pinterest Board which has more tips for all types of cats from all over the web!
How do you keep your indoor cat amused? let me know in the comments section below or share this post if you like it 🙂