Solitary confinement in a windowless room punishes the occupant by a lack of interaction with the outside world. Caring cat people often worry that confining a cat to be an indoor-only pet is a similar type of punishment, but it doesn’t have to be! If you’re reading this article, we likely don’t have to tell you about the numerous health, behavior, and safety benefits of keeping your cat always inside your home. So we’re here to help you with five helpful tips for keeping an indoor cat happy which will help keep him healthy too.
Five things you can provide to keep your indoor cat happy:
1. Room with a view: In the photo above, my two foster cats are enjoying bird-watching from their fully-screened-in “catio” porch. In my new house, I haven’t built a catio (yet!) and my windows don’t have cat-width sills. So I arranged my furniture in front of the windows that to provide the best cat-viewing possibilities of the trees, birds, squirrels, and neighbors walking by. Think of it as cat TV – live! A great view helps keep their mind entertained.
2. Room with a breeze: Cats love to sniff the outside air, but make sure to secure your screens! If you can push on your screen and it pops out, a cat could do that too! My screens were old so I replaced them with stronger “pet-proof” screens and also added screws to make the frames extra secure.
3. Grass under their paws: My catio had a grass dirt floor so I was able to put down some sod. Even indoors you can give them a mini grass lawn using a planter! Place it next to your biggest securely-screened in window with the best view using a planter on a table. If sod isn’t a possibility, provide other cat-friendly cat-sized surfaces for lounging at different heights.
4. Sunbathing: Outside cats will spend hours lounging in the sun. Cats can get skin cancer from too much sun and especially if they have light-colored fur or skin, so allow sunbathing in moderation, especially in warmer climates.
5. Exercise: Outside cats get to climb trees, hunt bugs and other creatures, and stalk through bushes and grass. Kittens and younger cats need lots of exercise to take care of this need and stay happy indoors! Older cats may need less, but they still need daily exercise too. Give them plenty of places to climb, hide, run, and jump inside (like by adding cat shelving, carpeted cat trees, cardboard boxes, etc) and encourage them to use them by playing on them with a laser toy and then their favorite toys on a string – make sure you let them catch the toy at the end so they finish satisfied. Jackson Galaxy has some great articles on playing with your cat and figuring out what games you and she prefer.
We hope these tips help you give your indoor-cat a long happy and healthy life! Come back to our blog next week as we’ll post tips for transitioning an outdoor or outdoor/indoor cat to indoors-only too.