When you introduce a new kitten or cat into your home, you must design an environment that will be pleasing and suitable for your new feline friend. Some cat owners can quickly decide that their cat will exclusively be an indoor cat, either from past experiences or their preferred living arrangements. Other owners may have had an outdoor cat before or don’t know the benefits of having a domestic house cat. Either way, new and old cat owners should carefully consider the many good reasons for keeping their cat indoors.
Why Keep Your Cat Indoors
Choosing to keep your cat indoors puts you in control of your cat’s environment, meaning you can help them avoid common threats, including injury and eating things they shouldn’t.
Outdoor cats are exposed to many risks that can make them sick or keep them from returning home. When cats can roam outside of the home, they can ingest poisonous plants or seeds that they thought to be food, or they can pick up serious diseases or parasites from other animals and insects. Outdoor cats are also at risk of being hit by a car, attacked by other animals, or might even be mistaken for a stray cat.
Even if your cat wears a collar with ID tags, allowing them to roam increases the risk of them getting lost or picked up by strangers or animal control. Keeping your cat indoors means that you know where they are all day – even if they’re hiding outside of sight.
Create Safe, Stimulating Spaces for Your Indoor Cat
A Place Just for Them
Just like their owners, cats also need to have their “me” time. Cats seek out high perches or look-out points so they can safely monitor the activity in the house or just to nap. They need these undisturbed places so they can feel safe from potential threats (e.g., bustling humans) or other pets (rambunctious dogs).
Install shelves or posts that your cat can easily access, plus get a great view of their surroundings. This can potentially keep them off your valued furniture and away from home decor that they could otherwise destroy or break.
Indoor cats need clean personal spaces and regular stimulation to maintain a healthy life within your home. It’s important to think carefully about your living situation and take into consideration your cat’s needs as well. Your cat’s safe spaces should include scratching posts and climbing structures to provide an appropriate outlet for their natural scratching behavior. These structures should consist of horizontal and vertical pieces at varying heights and be made of rough materials. Not only are these structures great for entertaining your cat, but they also save your furniture and carpet from destruction.
Toys are also important in creating a comfortable setting. Using interactive toys during daily playtime helps simulate the idea of hunting for a prize. Cats are instinctively drawn to chasing and pawing items that interest them, and there are a variety of toys that you can purchase to keep them stimulated during playtime or on their own time.
Transitioning From Outdoor Cat to Indoor Cat
Create a Stimulating Environment
If you own a cat or have recently adopted a cat that is used to roaming outdoors, it will take time and patience to help your cat adjust to an indoor environment. Start by creating a cat sanctuary with toys, scratching posts and elevated perches. Your cat should also have access to places where they can hide, as well as areas for them to discover. This can help mimic the outside environment they’re used to.
Use Pheromone Sprays
Cat owners can also use man-made facial pheromone sprays and diffusers to help their feline adjust to an indoor space. Pheromones are released as cats mark their territory, and it can signal to your cat that the area is a safe place.
Discourage Them From Escaping
Once your cat is comfortable with their new surroundings, they will begin exploring other parts of the home. During this transition period, you should make sure all potential exits are secure – your cat might look for opportunities to get outside. You can discourage your cat from escaping by using a noisemaker near the doorways to demonstrate that it is unsafe. Owners can also fill a squirt bottle with water or use a citrus-scented spray to deter cats from approaching doorways.
Appease Your Cat’s Desire for the Outdoors
With the right preparation, time and patience, your cat will be healthy and happy in your home. If you would still like to expose your cat to the outdoors, use a harness to enjoy leash walks. This requires advanced training, and, unlike dogs, cats respond to different behavioral modification lessons. Consult your veterinarian for leash-training techniques for your cat.