Does your cat spend hours looking outside the window? Have you wondered if your Cat is Happy indoors?
Sometimes I wonder if I am bad for keeping my cats inside? The answer though is still no. In most cases, your cat is very happy inside, and it extends the life of your kitten or cat. People may argue to let your cat go outside, but there are some critical steps to letting your cat go Outdoors in this article as well as letting an outdoor cat inside.
How Safe Is It to Let Your Inside Cat Go Outdoors?
Keeping your cat indoors limits them to things like disease, poisons, vermin, and other parasites. Indoor cats have a larger lifespan and have fewer health problems. Also, there are many hazards to being an outdoor cat. If you live in a metro area, you have to concern yourself with street traffic and other problems. People in your area can also snatch your cat, harming them in some way. Your cat may not get along with other cats in the neighborhood, and they could fight or get injured.
You may think that your cat is less stressed Outdoors than indoors, but that is not the case. There are many issues with letting your cat roam. There are a lot of sounds and noises that they are not accustomed to. If you live out in the country, you still have the threat of others, but it is more optimal for an outdoor cat life.
Cat Activity to Keep Your Inside Cat Happy
If you plan on having an indoor cat, it is essential to make sure your furry friend gets enough exercise and activity during the day. It is always a good idea to assess your living environment and make it cat-friendly. To your cat, you probably live in a boring home with little to no interaction with the outside world. So, I suggest making some of the interactions with the outdoors available to your cat.
First, is there a window that your cat can perch on to sunbathe and look outside? I have created a cabinet space below our living room window with our cat’s bed on top of it. Our cat Arya, sits there for hours looking outdoors at the trees and birds right outside the window. During the colder months, we even open the windows with just the screen between her and the outdoors. Having a view of the outdoors helps stimulate your cat’s natural senses.
If you have a patio in your backyard and it is enclosed or screen in, you will have a perfect spot for your cat to hang out. Make sure to give them their own space and include their favorite toys in that area. We make it a point to put our cat’s toys around the house and to make sure we switch them out every so often so they won’t become bored with them. If you are unsure what your cat likes to interact with, purchase a few different types of toys to see what interests them. Out of the three cats we have, only two of them like toys with feathers on them.
Keeping Your Furniture Safe
Another natural instinct that cats have is to scratch and dig their claws into things. It is vital to provide your cats with cardboard scratching pads and posts. Scratchpads will reduce the likelihood of your feline friend clawing up items like carpet, couches, and rugs. The good news is, scratch pads are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased online or at your local pet store.
Making a Great Indoor Indoor Cat Environment
Here are some items to also consider to give you cat its best life. You do not need to follow each item on the list but consider a few of these items:
Perches for your Cat: As already stated above, cats love to perch and rarely have a fear of heights. Perches are inexpensive or if you have some woodworking know-how, they can be easily created. Placement can vary, but it is recommended to put a cat perch near windows where they can stretch out and enjoy a nice view.
If you are in an apartment or living conditions that do not allow you to install cat perches, consider a cat tree. Usually, when you hear the word cat tree, an eyesore comes to mind. Don’t worry, though. Cat trees have come a long way and now come in many different colors and materials. With so many options at online retailers, you are sure to snag a deal for that special cat.
Hiding Spots for your cat: I am sure you know cats love to take a nap in hiding places, and at times you wonder if they have escaped outside. If you live in a tight space, though, your cat may not have a perfect hiding spot to take a nap in. A good alternative is to purchase your cat a condo, or small living area that they can crawl into. It is good to place the cat condo’s in places that do not get a ton of traffic and are quiet. If you are on the creative side, you can make one too.
Litter Box: Just like a right hiding spot, cats love their own area to use the litterbox—a place that is out of the way and their own. If you have multiple cats, it is always good to have multiple litterboxes. I have put our cat’s litterboxes in our coat closet and added a cat door to enter. Confined spaces give them privacy to do their business. Also, cats love a clean litterbox, so it is essential to clean it regularly.
Ways to Keep Your Indoor Cat In Shape With Exercise
Just like humans, cats need regular exercise to stay in shape. Naturally, cats love to climb and run around. It is vital to promote indoor activities by using vertical areas, toys, scratchers, and even puzzles. As mentioned above, you can have many different perches around your house, and perches like the Gabby Cat Perch add small challenges between each level to keep your cat fit!
Cat toys have also become more advanced with like the Cat String Toy, which moves a string in front of your cat until it is caught. Once released, the string starts moving again for your cat to catch. It provides many hours of activity for your cat. There are also similar toys that your indoor cat can play with, including feathers and ropes.
Activity keeps your cat happy and reduces health issues in older cats. It is crucial to make sure you have enough activities for your cat. If you have more than one cat, they must have enough toys, space, and perches. Cats are territorial and gravitate to their areas (especially for naps).
Play Time for Your Cats
Another thing your cats will enjoy is scheduled playtime. If you make this a routine, your cats will be excited every day to interact with you. Some great toys for playtime include wand toys with feathers on them or some type of natural prey. Keep these toys out of reach until playtime each day, so your cats do not tire from the same toys. You can also use other devices like a laser pointer to wear out your cat!
Having an indoor cat that is happy means interacting with them. It is always beneficial that you have people besides yourself play with your cat or kitten. If your cat has been socialized they will be more apt to come out and greet new guests when they arrive. Usually, new guests will play with your cats and help give them the love they deserve.
Why It Is Good To Keep Your Cat Indoors
You may feel bad about keeping your cat indoors, but as mentioned above, there are some serious health risks letting your cat outdoors. To give you an idea of how big of a problem we have in the United States alone, there are an estimated 60 million homeless and feral cats living outdoors per the American Feral Cat Coalition. Many of these cats can carry fatal diseases like:
- URI or called Upper Respiratory Infections
- FIV know as Feline AIDS
- FelV or Feline Leukemia
- FIP, also called Feline Infectious Peritonitis
Another common issue that plagues cats is parasites. Usually, parasites are not fatal but can cause problems for both the cat and the owner. Some of the common parasites include:
- Intestinal Works
- Ear Mites
This is just a small list of some of the parasites that cats can contract. Cornel University wrote a great article about Gastrointestinal Parasites that will help describe each parasite.
Even though many of these are not fatal, they can cause severe symptoms that can come into your home and become a pain to get rid of. Your cat may display some signs that they have a parasite issue if you notice them itching or scratching constantly. Also, if they have an intestinal problem, you may see them vomit or have diarrhea.
If You Want to Take Your Indoor Cat Outside
You may break down and want to take your indoor cat outside to experience their natural environment. If you do, here are some things to consider before taking your cat outdoor:
- It is essential to have regular visits with your veterinarian to make sure your cat/kitten is caught up and all of the vaccines and verify if they have any known parasites.
- The best outdoor environment is one that is contained or screened in. You can always put your cat in a cage and then take them outside. If you want your cat or kitten to wander, it is vital to have them on a leash with a harness.
- When taking your cat outside, make sure that no stray or outdoor cats interact with yours. Interacting with other cats can make them susceptible to many cat diseases.
Safety Issues for Your Outdoor Cat
Besides parasites and disease, your cat can suffer from many other outside dangers. The first safety concern for your cat is cars. If you live in a busy city with many cars, it is essential always to know where your cat is at all times. This is why you keep them on a leash, in a confined area, or a cage. Some of the other outside dangers include:
- Wild animals including dogs or other large prey.
- Large trees or structures that your cat can climb and get stuck or hurt.
- Poisons or Toxins like antifreeze or rat poison
- Your cat being snatched by another person or picked up by animal control (if not watched or confined)
Am I Bad Person For Not Letting My Cat Inside?
Just like some people may feel bad for not letting their cats go outside, the same applies to people who want to let outdoor cats come inside. You are not a bad person for allowing your cat inside. There are, however, many risks with letting an outside cat indoors. There is a massive problem with cat overpopulation worldwide, and there is more than likely a few stray cats that you will see in the neighborhood.
Before letting an unknown cat inside of your house, you should consider a few items. First, what are your intentions of allowing a cat indoors? Is it to trap, neuter, then release? If you are trying to help with the feral cat population, there may be other ways to help and organizations you can join. If an older cat has been feral its entire life, odds are they will not make an excellent indoor cat. There is still hope for feral cats, though. Some shelters offer help to cats that do not become indoor pets solutions to get vaccinated. Some of these cats end up living in barns and keep the rodent population down.
Before letting the cat indoors, you want to see if the cat hisses or runs when you try to get close to him. An outdoor cat may be hungry and enjoying food instead of entering your house. If you are anxious about the outdoor cat, find him a safe place outdoors until you can figure out an indoor situation for them.
Bringing an Outside Cat Indoors
If you have indoor cats and want to bring an outside cat indoors, you must take some precautions. This could potentially save the life of your indoor cats. You don’t know where an outdoor cat has been or if it has parasites/disease. The first step is having a dedicated room for your new Cat.
Setting Up a Room for an Outdoor Cat
If you have a spare room, this will be a great option for your new cat to reside for the next few weeks until you can figure out their living situation. Ensure that this spare room has a door, and your indoor cats can not interact with the cat from outside.
If you are bringing a new cat into a space, introducing your current cats should be a slow process. Remember, cats are very territorial.
Creating a Schedule for Your New Cat
It is vital to keep to a feeding schedule to ease your cat back into a routine and show them that you don’t mean them harm. If your new feline friend does not want to be touched or pet, give them space until they warm up to you. Once on a feeding schedule, the new cat should warm up to you, and I recommend sitting with them or being in the same room when eating and just hanging out. If you are having problems with the Cat warming up to you, try switching up foods or give them cat treats.
Have Patience With The Outdoor Cat
Sometimes it takes a cat longer to feel safe that you would expect it to. If the new cat does not want to interact with you, do not force physical contact. Depending on how care and the health of your new cat are going, you will eventually need to schedule your new cat an appointment at the vet. Getting your cat into a carrier or cat box may be challenging so I recommend using cat treats or wet food to lure them. You may have to break the no physical contact rule if your cat needs help from a professional.
The veterinarian will run tests on the new cat you are taking care of to test for diseases and catch your cat up on any shots if they are needed. I recommend seeing how well the cat interacts with the vet to determine the readiness of your cat moving out of its room and into your house. Also, it is good to get any feedback for your vet on how to introduce the outside cat with the other cats inside of your home. If you are still hesitant about introducing the cats, wait a bit longer. The last thing you need is for your cats to fight. In a future article, we will discuss more tips on introducing cats to each other.
Keeping Your Indoor or Outdoor Cats Happy and Safe
Regardless of your cat wants to come indoors or go outside, it is always good to have their best interest at heart. Be patient with your furry friends, and make sure to work with your veterinarian if you notice any adverse health conditions for your cat.