Caring for your cat - keeping indoor cats happy
How to Keep a Cat Indoors
Keeping a cat indoors can have a tremendously positive effect on the cat's lifelong health and happiness. Indoor cats are far less exposed to the risks posed by outdoor activity, including diseases, fleas and ticks, exposure to harmful substances, fights with other animals, and more. However, keeping a cat indoors has its own challenges, including maintaining exercise and preventing boredom. Learning how to keep a cat indoors will allow your pet to live a long, safe, happy life.
Preventing Your Cat From Going Out
Close all doors and windows.Look around before opening any door to ensure your cat is not nearby, or at the very least, is preoccupied in playing with a toy. If you need to open a window, ensure it has a screen secured over it.
Limit access to exits.If possible, secure the space in which the door leading outside is situated. For instance, if your foyer has an inner door (leading into the home) and an outer door (leading outside), close the inner door and ensure your cat is not in the foyer with you before opening the outer door to leave. When opening windows that do not have window screens, first check the room to ensure the cat is not there, then close the door to the room in which you’re opening the window.
- If you don’t have a foyer, put the cat in a different room before leaving.
- If your windows can open from the bottom as well as the top, only open them from the top. This ensures that our cat cannot reach the open part of the window.
Install an electronic pet door.If you have a pet door in your house that you’re worried your cat might escape through, swap it out for an electronic pet door instead. This will allow you to lock the pet door during certain times and open it during other times. Some electronic pet doors allow you to equip one pet with an electronic signal key that will open the door for it, but not for the cat you want to keep indoors.
- Talk to a specialist at your local pet store for more information about your options.
- Watch your cat to make sure they do not wait for the pet with access to go through, then follow them out.
Use a pet proofing spray.Pet proofing sprays are motion-activated devices that emit an irritating but harmless liquid spray on your pet when it approaches an area you don’t want it near. To keep a cat indoors, place a pet proofing spray near windows and doors that you anticipate your cat might escape through.
- The exact method for using a pet proofing spray will vary according to the device you choose to utilize. Consult manufacturer directions before use.
- Generally, setting up a pet proofing spray unit is as easy as popping in a few batteries and turning the device on.
Train your cat to stay indoors with a pet proofing barrier.A pet proofing barrier is similar to a pet proofing spray, except that instead of getting sprayed by harmless liquid, your cat will hear a loud and startling beep. Place the pet proofing barrier near doors and windows that you fear your cat will escape from. Strap the sensor collar on your cat so that the sensor can detect when your cat is near. Eventually, your cat will learn to avoid the areas where it hears the beep.
Making the Indoors More Attractive for Your Cat
Give your cat plenty of toys to play with.To compensate for the lack of outdoor exploration and adventure, indoor cats will need toys to divert their attention and provide them with exercise and stimulation. Small, inexpensive toys like stuffed mice and plastic balls are often the most entertaining for cats, and can be played with even while you are away. Other toys – such as fishing-pole style toys that let you dangle a feather or piece of fabric in front of your cat – will require interaction with you.
- Using toys that require you to interact with the cat will help you to bond and create a better relationship with your pet.
- Battery-powered cat toys can be useful supplements for human interaction. If your cat wants longer or more intense play sessions than you can provide, battery-powered toys can help divert your cat's attention.
Make sure your cat can see out a window.Indoor cats will be much less bored and anxious if they have visual access to the outdoors. Make sure there is at least one uncluttered windowsill for the cat to sit on. It is best if the cat can access a window that receives direct sunlight, because this will prove more attractive to them and improve their mood.
Provide your cat with opportunities to forge.Buying or making foraging toys will give your cat a similar experience to hunting and foraging outdoors. These toys are containers with many holes or divots that your cat has to manipulate in order to get their food. This gives your cat an opportunity to use their brain and interact with their surrounding in a more rewarding way.
Give your cat a space of its own.If you have a window with a relatively deep sill, buy a padded perch and place it in front of the window. Alternately, invest in a window frame – a sort of clear, boxy unit similar to a windowsill air conditioner in which your cat can sit, hang out, and watch the world go by. Other cats might feel safest in their crates, so leave your cat’s crate or cage open at all times.
Provide a screened porch for your cat.If your cat can get some fresh air and survey its domain from an enclosed location, it’s a win-win for both you and the cat. If you don’t have a screened porch, consider building a “catio” – a large cage-like structure with many climbable surfaces. Your catio could be accessible directly from your home (via a side or rear door), or you could place it in your back yard. You can obtain catio building kits from most pet stores.
Set up a cat tree.A cat tree (sometimes called a “kitty condo”) is a vertical structure that provides your cat with opportunities for climbing, hiding, and jumping. Your cat will love navigating the cat tree. Set it up in an open space where your cat can freely move through and around it. You can easily obtain a cat tree at your local pet store.
Position your litter box in a quiet, low-traffic area.If your cat feels uncomfortable for any reason using its litter box, it may attempt to escape outside to relieve itself. Make sure that wherever you place the litter box, your cat will have an unobstructed view of the whole room. In your home, the living room, bedroom, kitchen, or family room might qualify as a good location.
- Do not, for instance, place the litter box next to a noisy furnace or washing machine. Placing it in the corner of a room, likewise, will not make your cat want to use it.
Clean your litter box regularly.If your cat’s litter box is dirty and/or stinky, it might want to do its business outside. To prevent this, scoop feces from the litter box daily. Any time you observe clumping or wet litter, empty the litter and replace it. Generally, you’ll need to do this about twice each week.
- Don’t place the litter box in a closet or in the corner of a room, either, since your cat will feel trapped when using it.
- Additionally, do not place your cat’s litter box near its food dish. After all, just imagine how you’d feel dining right next to the place you go to the bathroom.
Altering Your Cat’s Behavior
Spay or neuter your cat.This is one of the easiest ways to keep a cat indoors, especially so if you have multiple cats. Neutering and spaying makes cats less territorial and inhibits their tendency to roam. Cats that have not been fixed will not adjust as well to being kept indoors, especially if they used to have access to the outside world.
- Plus, cats that have been neutered/spayed are more sociable and tend to have better health.
Train your cat to sit and stay away from exits.Place your cat in a location away from any doors or windows through which it might escape. Click a clicker with one hand and, at the same time, use your free hand to administer a treat. Say “Good cat” in a gentle, reassuring way and pet the cat. Repeat three or four times per training session, and hold several such training sessions daily.
- After a week or so, your cat should begin to associate the sound of the clicker with being in that location. From then on, perform one or two sessions daily for another week.
- After the second week, your cat should know where it needs to be when you enter and exit. From then on, click the clicker and administer two or three treats to occupy your cat just before you leave.
- Take the clicker with you or leave it right by the door. When you come home, click the clicker and lavish your cat with positive attention.
Walk your cat.Sometimes your cat just wants to satisfy its curiosity about the great big world outside. Place your cat in its harness and connect it to a leash. Take your cat for a walk around the block, or take it to the park to help it get in touch with its wild side. With luck, this will diminish your cat’s urges to go outdoors, at least for a few days.
QuestionIf I had an outdoor cat, would it be cruel to bring her inside?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNot necessarily. You can do it gradually, bringing your cat in a bit longer each day until your cat is used to being inside. Make sure your cat has a scratching post and some toys to keep it entertained.Thanks!
QuestionHow can you make your cat happy indoors if he's happier outdoors?Community AnswerKeep windows open to create an outdoor ambiance, play with him, let him exercise and run around the house. Consider buying or making a cat play structure to keep him active and happy.Thanks!
QuestionWould it be cruel to move my cat to the city after a lifetime of outdoor access?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerOf course not! It's never cruel--but she would be bored. Try getting cat condos or modify a few furniture pieces so that she can climb like trees and branches and that such. Let her explore your new place as well.Thanks!
QuestionMy cat keeps escaping, and my family and I are sick of it! What do I do?Community AnswerTry to keep them content indoors. Play with them, let them exercise and run around, make sure they have toys. Keep them away from the door. If they try to escape while you're opening the door to leave, have someone hold them back while you leave. Don't take them outside too often either, as it will give them a taste for the outdoors. A window open is fine, a balcony door open is not. It's really up to you to watch your cat and make sure it is not given opportunities to escape, just as you would watch a child. Alternatively, you could simply accept your cat's ventures outdoors.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I keep a cat indoors if they were formerly an outdoor cat?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThis is a hard habit to break. Cats' instincts tell them that they have to go outside and explore. The only thing you may be able to do is to bring the cat inside and close the door. If it is a sliding glass door with a screen, you can open the door and leave the screen closed to give the cat fresh air. Letting the cat go out at all might be a bad idea if they are accustomed to the outdoors and likely to stay out too long.Thanks!
QuestionCould I keep my cat in a cage and have her still be happy? She sheds so much this would make things a lot easier for me.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCats will never be happy in a cage. You should give your cat full run of the house, or at least a story of it, because they need stimuli and activity to prevent boredom and mental disorders. You can research ways to prevent shedding, perhaps by clipping the coat, brushing it out every day, taking it to a professional groomer, etc.Thanks!
QuestionMy cat sheds so much that keeping him inside is a huge struggle. Is there any way to help prevent shedding?Community AnswerBrushing him every day, or at least twice a week, can prevent a lot of shedding.Thanks!
QuestionWhat does it mean when my cat is lying on my bed?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt just means that it wants to lay on your bed, probably because it's soft and warm. Your cat also might want to be close to you.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I keep my cat from going out the doggie door?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere are certain kinds of doggie doors that come with sensors that are placed in the dog's collar. When the dog approaches, the door unlocks. When the dog isn't around, the door stays locked. I would recommend finding one of those so your cat won't be able to get out the door, although they might be a little expensive.Thanks!
QuestionIf my cat has been an outside cat for eight years but must now stay inside, will he use the litter box?Top AnswererThanks!
- If you are attempting to keep a cat indoors that has been allowed outside until now, the adjustment process will take longer. Try to keep your cat engaged by spending extra time playing with them while they adjust to being inside.
- Equip your cat with a collar and tags just in case it gets out. If you’re really worried, you could get your cat microchipped, too.
- Never leave your cat unattended while they are on a harness or leash. They can easily become tangled, trapped, or strangle themselves.
Video: How To Keep A Cat Indoors
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