When you choose to share your life with a cat, you’ve got a decision to make: have them be an indoor cat or an outdoor cat.
While letting them roam free as an outdoor cat can be tempting because it seems more in line with their nature, it may not be the safest choice.Keeping your cat indoors is the best way to keep them healthy for a longer, happier life. However, it’s not as simple as laying out their cat bed near a sunny spot and calling it a day.
Indoor cats face their own unique challenges, including boredom, a lack of exercise, and emotional stress. That stress can lead to feline illnesses, including inflammatory diseases like feline interstitial cystitis.
To help avoid those outcomes, we’re sharing six tips on how to keep your cats engaged and emotionally healthy while living indoors!
Indoor Cats Need Alone Time
Cats are territorial animals. This is especially important when you consider how they’ll be sharing your household – and with who.
While some cats may tend to be more social, having a private, personal space where they can go to be alone is helpful for keeping indoor cats happy. If you have more than one cat, or other animals, do your best to create these spaces for each of them.
That space should include a separate litter box, play area, food and water bowls, and space for sleeping.
The Right Amount Of Indoor Cat Food
Outdoor or feral cats have been known to eat up to 20 times a day. Part of that comes from not having access to the bowl of litter like your indoor cat. It’s also connected with how much exercise they get while they’re moving around.
Indoor cats simply don’t have as much opportunity for movement, or the need to hunt. In some cases, though, that lack of exercise can mean weight gain, obesity, and even feline diabetes.
To avoid that, be consistent about how much you feed your indoor cat. Canned food is great for maintaining protein in their diet. Also, keep fresh water available, and when possible, see how you can keep that water moving (e.g. a fountain).
Quiet Sleeping Areas
Many cats sleep between 12-18 hours a day. To help them get the most out of their lazy days, it’s good to create a quiet sleep area for your indoor cat.
That can include a blanket or cat bed to help create a cozy spot. When possible, placing it in an elevated spot will be appreciated as it lets them safely survey their surroundings.
Indoor Cats Need Exercise
The lifestyle for an outdoor cat almost guarantees that they’ll get exercise. Indoor cats need your help.
To help encourage play and exercise, there are a few steps you can take. Scratching posts throughout the host will encourage stretching and interaction. Changing the location of the food bowl on occasion will encourage them to hunt throughout the house.
How To Play With Indoor Cats
Part of building in exercise to your indoor cat’s schedule comes with toys and games. By keeping them engaged, you’ll also avoid the repercussions of a bored cat (which can lead to more scratched couch legs than you care to deal with).
Toys and games can include laser light pointers, dragging shoelaces across the floor, playing inside and around cardboard boxes, hide and seek, and even fetch (though the retrieval part may be difficult to master!).
For variety, you can train your cat to deal with a harness so you can go on supervised outdoor adventures, too.
Convenient Litter Boxes
Another common stress factor for cats is not being able to get to their litter box. If it’s not easily accessible (especially if your home has more than one floor), that lack of access can lead to certain feline behavioral problems like defecating outside of the litter box.
Here are some rules of thumb to keep your indoor cat happy with their litter box situation:
- Have a minimum of one box per cat, and one box per floor of the house
- Opt for unscented litter
- Scoop at least once per day
- Deep clean the box monthly with dish liquid detergent and water
- Keep the box away from appliances and air ducts
Check In With The Catonsville Cat Clinic To Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy
While the above steps are a great foundation for creating a happy home for your indoor cat, every cat is different.
At Catonsville Cat Clinic, our feline veterinarians are here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have about creating the perfect home environment for your cat. To schedule an appointment, feel free to get in touch with our team here.