The Benefits of Keeping Your Cat Indoors
Many people hold the view that cats are meant to live outside. Cats, after all, are practically wild creatures meant to hunt down prey! The reality is much different. Keeping your cat indoors will keep it safer and healthier - and yes, happy, too.
People often claim that living outside is what cats are suited for, and keeping them inside is cruel. If this is true, then why are there so many starving, ill, and injured cats roaming the streets? Humane societies and rescue groups can attest to the vast numbers of homeless cats that are clearly not suited to living outdoors.
Outdoor cats are at risk for many dangers:
- Being hit by vehicles;
- Attacked by other animals or by people;
- Ingestion of poisonous substances;
- Exposure to disease and parasites;
- Getting trapped somewhere (or accidentally locked somewhere, like a shed);
- Becoming lost (note - strangely, cats are not as valued as dogs - fewer people will go looking for a missing cat);
- Exposure to the elements - many a cat, for example, have lost their ear tips to frostbite.
Outdoor cats typically live only a few years, compared to indoor cats which can live a contented, full life into their teens. Many indoor cats even live into their twenties! Yes, you may know someone who says their outdoor cat lived a very long life -- and no doubt some of them do -- but in general, outdoor cats lead shorter lives.
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".
Keep An Indoor Cat Healthy and Happy
- Figure out what type of toys your cat enjoys.
Cats need exercise and mental stimulation. Toys that mimic natural prey are
usually popular with cats, as are toys with unpredictable movements. Many
cats enjoy simple things like cardboard boxes and paper bags as well, which
encourage cats to hide and pounce.
Three popular cat toys include:
- Da Bird - an interactive toy that imitates the look and sounds of a bird. Super-fun for cats, but make sure you get a couple of feather re-fills... many cats love it so much they'll 'hunt' them down and shred them!
- Crinkle balls are also a favorite with cats. These simple, affordable toys are just shiny balls that make crinkly noises ... cats love to chase them, pounce on them, and hug them to their bodies while kicking at them.
- Crinkle sacks are a combination of a paper bag and a comfy bag, with some awesome crinkly sounds thrown in. They're lined with soft bedding material (in case kitty wants to nap) and the sack is held open for easy access. Many are machine washable too. And as a bonus, the sack looks much nicer than a tattered paper bag!
- The The Peek-a-Prize Cat Toy is another fun way for your cat to get some exercise. It's basically a box with holes in it; stuff toys into the box (like the crinkle balls!), or use treats or catnip. Cats can put their paws through the holes in the box and fish out the toys or treats.
- Keep a clean, easily-accessible litter box.
Cats don't like to eliminate near where they eat, so place the litter box
away from the feeding area. Try to clean the litter box daily. A dirty
box may push your cat into eliminating outside the box or elsewhere in
Clay litter is the most common and the cheapest, but not particularly healthy for either the cat or for you. It tends to produce a lot of dust which gets breathed in - especially when cats scratch to cover up their urine or feces. Many types of biodegradable, eco-friendlier options are available made most commonly from corn or wheat, like the World's Best Cat Litter or Swheat Scoop.
- Get a cat tree or scratching post. Cats like to stretch out to their full lengths. Scratching is natural behavior for them, and it's best to give them something of their own that they're free to scratch to their heart's content (instead of using your furniture!). There are many types of basic scratchers or scratching posts ... but if it's within the budget, consider a cat tree with a variety of hiding, playing, and resting areas. It's great for exercise and mental stimulation.
- Offer something green to nibble on. Cats who go outside will naturally nibble on grass or herbs. You can simulate this experience by providing an indoor window box. Sow some cat grass or even catnip at regular intervals so that there is a steady supply. Be forewarned, though, catnip grows large and is very strong - some cats love it (and go crazy for it!), while others find it too strong. Make sure your planter is heavy enough that your cat won't knock it to the ground.
- Consider giving your cat outdoor time using a harness or an 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. Cats should be supervised outdoors to make sure they don't get hung
up on something or get into any trouble.
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 watch out for your cat as wild animals may attempt to break in.
All cats, even indoor cats, should wear permanent identification just in case he or she accidentally escapes out the door. Be sure to keep the information on the ID tag up-to-date.
Keeping your cat indoors helps to keep them safe and protected. Even an outdoor cat can be trained to be an indoor cat!
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