Your cat may like to channel their inner lion and hunt their toy mouse, but they quickly return to their domestic state the moment they hear you opening that can of delicious cat food. Our domestic cats depend on us, and we are responsible for their health and wellbeing. Part of responsible cat ownership is committing to keeping them safe, and keeping them indoors is the best way to do that. Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives than those who live outdoors and are at far greater risk of animal fights and car accidents.
However, an indoor cat doesn’t want a boring life, and they need enrichment to ensure they stay happy, healthy, and engaged. The team at WesVet Animal Hospital offers enrichment ideas that will help ensure your cat lives their best life from the safety of their home.
Benefits of keeping cats indoors
The importance of keeping your cat indoors and safe from danger cannot be overemphasized. Risks include:
- Vehicles — Outdoor cats face the risk of getting hit by a car or truck, which usually results in serious injuries and is often fatal.
- Disease — Your outside cat can be a predator or prey, plus they will kill birds, mice, rabbits, and other small animals that may be infected with diseases that are dangerous to cats and humans.
- Infections — Outdoor cats are at a much higher risk for contracting viral and parasitic infections.
- Fights — Cats can be territorial, and outside cats will fight over territory, and can also be in harm’s way of roaming dogs and area wildlife.
- Escape — Your cat may wear a collar with identification, but collars can easily break. Indoor cats are far less likely to become lost.
Fun for indoor cats
Fortunately, the outdoors is not required for feline happiness, and you can easily make the great indoors fun and engaging while meeting all of your cat’s needs. Here are some suggestions:
- Move that cat — Most cats are athletic creatures who need to release their energy, so get them moving. Tap into their hunting instincts with toys that are interactive, on a string, or battery-powered—anything that lets them pounce and stalk for exercise. Switch out their toys regularly to keep them new and interesting.
- Let your cat perch — Indulge your cat’s affinity for bird-watching with a window perch installed near a window with a view. A bird feeder or bird bath outside will ensure your cat has plenty to watch from their perch—they will spend hours viewing the wildlife or snoozing in the sunshine.
- Find a cat pal — Staying home alone can get lonely and sociable cats likely will enjoy another pet’s companionship. Another pet, whether a cat or a dog, also can help with socialization.
- Let them scratch — Scratching is a natural feline behavior and a necessity for your cat’s overall wellbeing. Cats scratch for many different reasons, including maintaining their nails, marking their territory, stretching, and stress relief. However, since you no doubt do not want your cat scratching your furniture and drapes, you must provide appropriate alternative scratching surfaces in the house. Place scratching posts near your cat’s favorite resting places—cats like to stretch and scratch when they first wake up—and other areas they frequent. Cats also find corrugated cardboard, sisal, and wood attractive scratching materials.
- Create a “catio” for your cat — A catio—or cat patio—is an outdoor area where your cat can enjoy the fresh air while safely enclosed. Catios come in a variety of designs and sizes, from a small window box to a large backyard enclosure. If you don’t have the budget or the space, create a similar effect with a screen door where your cat can sit on the inside, but still feel the cool breeze and sunshine. Some cats will tolerate a harness and leash and with time and patience can be trained to go on walks.
An indoor cat has it made in the shade, but they need enriching activities to ensure they have a long, happy, and exciting life. However, if your indoor cat is displaying unusual behavior, the cause could be boredom-related stress or a medical issue. Make an appointment with our WesVet Animal Hospital team, so we can determine why your cat is having problems and treat them appropriately.