How to Convince Your Indoor Cat to Snub the Great Outdoors
Many cats quickly adapt to indoor-only lifestyles. Others simply cannot help themselves from darting outside, meowing mournfully at a closed door, or shredding up window screens. This can lead an owner to feel sizable guilt about keeping an indoor cat. But the fact remains: indoor-only felines live healthier, safer, and longer lives than those allowed to roam their neighborhood.
Is It Right to Roam?
You could argue that cats with more freedom are happier. After all, cats enjoy prowling, climbing, chasing prey, and exploring new places. The risks to this lifestyle are many, however, They might get into fights, fall from great heights, run into traffic, or be exposed to diseases or parasites.
All in the Timing
Kittens and younger cats that have been spayed or neutered may be easier to train to stay strictly indoors. Newly adopted cats that previously had access to the outdoors may need an additional containment period in order to be sure they won’t run off.
Training must be done gradually in an adult or aging cat that has spent their entire life going between the house and the street. Start by keeping them in at night, then space out the times they venture outside during the day. Extend play times to keep them tired.
Despite all your efforts to make your cat an indoor one, they might still find themselves outside at some point. Whether accidental or opportunistic, this situation can end in disaster if they aren’t wearing an ID tag on their collar. Also critical is having your indoor cat microchipped in order to facilitate a swift reunion if/when they become lost.
All the Things Right Meow
Providing for your cat’s behavioral and environmental needs is a big part of their overall health and happiness.
- Take advantage of your home’s vertical space as much as possible. Add shelves, ramps, and perches directly to walls to help your cat tune into their instincts.
- Dedicate at least one window (preferably the sunniest one you have) just for them. Attach a bird or squirrel feeder to the other side of the window for some educational entertainment.
- Secure all of your windows and doors. Screens can take a beating over time. Be sure that your cat cannot fall through a torn or shredded screen.
- Cat proof balconies.
- Cat scratchers are great for stress relief and should be strategically placed around the house in order to get the most out of them (while saving your furniture!).
- A catio (fully enclosed outdoor cat space) can offer your cat the best of both worlds.
- Adopt their litter mate or another cat to reduce loneliness. This should never be done abruptly, but with time and patience, a new friend can enhance overall wellness.
- Cat toys are always important and make playing together every day that much more fun. Aim for 30 minutes a day, broken into individual sessions if needed.
- Be sure to provide at least 2 litter boxes per cat, on different levels of the home.
- Stay observant of even subtle changes in behaviors.