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Helping Your Cat Adjust to Indoor Life

It's a common belief that cats should be outdoors. Nothing could be further from the truth. Outdoor cats are exposed to threats of all types, including being hit by cars, attacked by other animals, ingesting poison such as antifreeze, and even attacks by people. They are also exposed to diseases and parasites.

Outdoor cats live only a few years, compared to indoor cats which can easily live a contented, full life into their teens. Many indoor cats even live into their twenties!

There are few things more distressing than listening to a well-meaning cat owner whose has just lost their beloved pet (run over by a car, killed by another animal or person). They let their cat outside because the cat "really wanted to go" and they "didn't have the heart to keep them inside".

... But you're not doing your cat a favour by letting him or her outside. They will be much safer and happier indoors.

Help Your Cat Adjust to Being Indoors By ...

  • Purchasing toys and catnip. This will help to distract your feline from the lure of the outdoors. Play with your cat and make indoors seem like a happy place. He may cry to go out, but do not give in.

  • Get a litter box, if you don't already have one. Outdoor cats may be used to digging in the dirt to do their business. Help your cat by gathering some dirt or sand from your yard and putting a few inches in the litter box. Place the litter box in an easily accessible spot. Gradually mix the dirt with kitty litter. You eventually want to be using kitty litter only.

    Note: Be sure to clean the litter box daily. Cats are naturally clean creatures, and you want to encourage them to use the litter box. If it's too dirty, your cat may decide to go elsewhere in the house (uh oh!).

  • Think about introducing a harness or outdoor enclosure. Cats can be quite content outside on a harness and a leash, basking in the sun. Do not use a collar; cats are clever little escape artists and may slip free. Outdoor enclosures that are closed on all sides as well as on top are another alternative. If you live in a remote area, you should keep an eye out for your cat as wild animals may attempt to break in.

  • Be alert! Your crafty cat may try to sneak by you whenever someone opens the door. Keep an eye out.

  • Make sure your cat has permanent identification. Hopefully you'll never have to use their ID, but just in case, be sure your cat is wearing an ID tag (with the most up-to-date information on file), a tattoo, and/or a microchip.

  • Be patient! It can take a while for both you and your cat to adjust to his new indoor life. He may yowl at the door to go outside, but be firm.

It's well worth the effort to reform an outdoor cat to the indoors. Your cat will lead a much safer, longer, and happier life with you.

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