Just as we no longer let our dogs roam loose for their own safety and welfare, we must now protect our cats from a litany of outdoor hazards. The MSPCA strongly advises that all cats be kept indoors or allowed outside only under direct supervision.
Many cat owners worry their feline friends will become stir crazy living an indoor life. Outdoors access, however, is not a prerequisite for a happy cat. You can provide enough attention and exercise to keep any cat entertained!
Here are some helpful tips on how to keep your indoor cat content and how to make the important transition from an outdoor/indoor to an indoor only cat.
Living the Good (Indoor) Life
Provide and maintain a clean littler box - it is recommended that you scoop litter boxes at least once a day and clean boxes fully at least once a week. Also a good rule of thumb - have on box for each cat in your home. A scratching post is another essential. Cats have a natural instinct to scratch. It helps cats shed old cuticles and is also great exercise. To encourage a cat to start using a scratching post, rub cat nip on the post or drag a string across the board to entice your cat's attention.
Create a regular schedule of playtime with your cat each day. Life can be more fulfilling for an indoor cat that gets a lot of love and playtime than an indoor/outdoor cat that might not get as much of his/her owner's attention. The MSPCA has an online store where you can purchase innovate toys to keep your cat entertained. Test out different toys to find what your cat may prefer. Also, leave out toys or simple household items such as paper bags and crinkled up paper when you aren't at home - sometimes the simple things in life can be the most entertaining!
Become a Cat Architect
A study was conducted on how to interior design with your cat in mind. Researchers found the four most important ways to cater to your feline customer is to think vertically, provide comfortable resting and hiding spaces, and offer at least one litterbox for each cat you have in your home (placed away from eating and resting areas). The MSPCA online store has beds, kitty condos, litter boxes and cat trees available for purchase to meet these four kitty design must-haves.
A Taste of the Outdoors
Screened porches and window perches are a great way for your cat to experience the outdoors while still ensuring their safety. Outdoor cat enclosures are also becoming a popular purchase for the pampered companion. Several companies sell ready made enclosures and others have do it yourself kits. Cats can also be trained to wear a harness and walk on a leash. Training takes time and patience and it is recommended you consider this option only if you live in a relatively quiet neighborhood. Also, for those on a budget, bring the outdoors inside by planting cat nip, cat mint, or cat grass.
One is the Loneliest Number
Adopting another feline companion may help keep your cat company. Adopting an adult cat from a shelter may be a good choice as shelters often know whether a cat has lived with another cat previously. Some shelters also have cat colony rooms where cats who get along with other cats are housed in the same room. Keep in mind, however, there is no guarantee that all cats will become the best of friends. For tips on introducing your resident cat to a new addition to the feline family, click here.
Making the Transition
Indoor/Outdoor cats can be persuaded to become indoor cats. The transition may initially result in frustrating behaviors such as door darting and meowing or scratching at the door. To train a cat not to door dart use a spray bottle with water upon entering or existing your house. Or shake a can filled with pennies which makes a loud enough noise to stop your cat in their tracks. Patience is key, just like us, cats take some time to adjust, unwelcome behaviors will fade with time.
Tag that Cat
An open door. A torn window screen. A garage door left open. And other reasons an indoor cat needs a collar and identification. Have your cat microchipped and always keep a collar and tag on your cat to ensure that if your cat does get out, they will be able to return home to you safely. Learn about microchips here.