Indoor cats enjoy extra protection from most diseases, predators and other hazards, such as cars, that outdoor cats regularly experience. In fact, cats kept exclusively indoors live on average twice as long as outdoor cats. When allowed outside, your cat is in danger of becoming lost, injured by other animals, hit by a car, ingesting poisons and is at greater risk of becoming infected by serious diseases and parasites.
By keeping your cat inside, you increase their chances of living a longer, healthier and happier life. However, many pet owners allow their cats outside because they’re afraid their feline friend will get bored. But with a little preparation and patience, your cat can be quite entertained and content inside.
Can Indoor Cats Be Happy?
Yes, indoor cats can be happy living exclusively indoors. Just like their canine counterparts, cats are more than content to live inside and be close with their humans. There are some common misconceptions that cats are simply too independent or too difficult to be kept inside all the time, but this simply isn’t true. Creating an enriching environment for your cat will help ensure they are getting enough stimulation to keep them entertained and content.
However, if you’re interested in letting your indoor cat explore the outside world from time to time, you can try taking them on walks using a harness and leash. Some cats might require a lot of training and patience to achieve this.
Other options for exposing your cat to the outdoors include building them a private “catio,” or a secure screened-in area that is outside. Small “catios” can even be built and placed in windows in urban environments. If your backyard is adequately fenced in or if you have a porch with no exit points, you can allow your cat out to explore these spaces with your supervision.
Keep Your Cat Entertained Through Play
Houses and apartments often don’t give cats wide, open spaces to roam, so they are far less active than outdoor cats. To make up for their more sedentary lifestyle, it’s important to play with your cat for at least 30 minutes every day.
Here are some quick game ideas to try with your feline friend:
- Fetch: Yes, cats will play fetch, too! Pick a toy you can throw across the room easily and that your cat can carry in their mouth. Whenever your cat brings the toy back, pet them and give them treats to reward the behavior. Even if they don’t bring it back, you can pick it up and throw it again. Chasing the toy around is exercise for you both.
- Crumpled Paper: Cats love toys that crinkle. Bat crumpled pieces of paper around for your cat to chase, pounce on and catch. Just make sure to dispose of these makeshift toys to prevent your cat from eating them.
- Feather & String: Purchase or make a wand toy with a long string and a feather on the end. Your cat will happily chase this toy around with you.
- Paper Bag: An empty paper shopping bag can easily be one of your cat’s favorite toys. Lay the bag on its side so your cat can play inside. Scratch and poke at the sides as your cat bats at the movements from the inside of the bag.
- Light: Cats love chasing light reflections. A watch, your phone screen or a mirror can all be used to reflect light for your cat to chase. At the end of playtime, be careful to switch to a toy that your cat can actually catch to keep your cat from being frustrated. NOTE: Laser pointers can damage your cat’s eyes, and they can also cause undue frustration. Avoid using them to play with your cat.
- Tablet Games: If you have a tablet, you can find games and apps created for cats (yes, really) that can indulge your cat’s curiosity.
Try to keep your cat’s playtime routine new and exciting. Switch to different rooms, new variations of games and even new toys. Keep a portion of their toys tucked away so you can swap them in and out, making them more exciting and interesting when they are available to play with.
Fun for Them and for You
All pets need to be entertained and given proper stimulation, particularly indoor cats. Your cat will live a longer and happier life if you keep them inside, and by putting in the time and extra effort to play with them, you’ll create a stronger bond.