Indoor only or Indoor/Outdoor?  The most important thing is a happy cat!

Cats who never had access to the outside, don’t know the freedom of outdoors. It is questionable whether they actually miss anything. One thing is clear, indoor only cats can be very happy. Indeed, they would, at least initially, be quite fearful if they were suddenly given the freedom of the Great Outdoors. Cat owners living in urban environments or near busy roads should keep their cats indoors. Statistics shows that the life expectancy of indoor only cats is double that of cats having access to the outside.

High perches and windows with a view

If you keep indoor only cats, you must make sure that you provide an environment enabling the cat to follow its natural hunting instinct says Dr. Rolf Spangenberg. This means opportunities to climb, hide and ambush. Equally important is a comfy place to sleep and sunny place to rest and watch, like a cushion placed on a window sill. Essential for our indoor cats is the daily fitness training and plenty of human affection. In the daily play and cuddle sessions the cats will quickly let us know their likes and dislikes. Rolf Spangenberg recommends getting two cats from the start, if you are away for most of the day. “They can entertain each other during the day, but this is no substitute for human affection. The cats will still need plenty of attention.”

Cats love to watch the world go by. The best place to do this is from a scratching post or cat tree with different levels. There are a wide variety or posts and trees available, with one to suit any size house or flat. A free-standing cat tree is easy to set up and just as easy to store later when puss is allowed outside again. One that is attached to the wall tolerates a bit more gymnastics and is ideal for energetic cats or if you want to keep more than one feline friend busy. You can also get ceiling-high cat trees that are bolted to the ceiling where puss can really climb to their heart’s content. If your cat eyes their new tree with scepticism, simply place a small treat on the first “level”. They will soon acquire a taste for it! You could also clear a window sill for a great cat lookout, just add something soft and fluffy to sit on, or mount an extra bed on the window sill. Give your cat something to smell and nibble such as a large, shallow container laid with lawn turf. Put a layer of soil under the lawn turf and it will quickly take root and can grow and thrive. A cushion cover filled with fresh hay smells great too.

Small Indoor Lawns

You can make your indoor cat really happy if you grow cat grass; a litter tray is ideal and the cat has his or her own patch of grass to eat or to lie on. If your apartment has a balcony, there is nothing to stop you from sunbathing together with your cat provided you have the balcony secured with suitable netting. Will outdoor cats ever get used to an indoor only lifestyle? This question cannot be answered generally. Some cats will have no problems adapting but others will continue to crave their lost freedom and will never get used to the cramped indoor conditions. A cat having enjoyed many years of ideal outdoor access will never be happy as an indoor only cat. If the owner is away at work during the day the bored cat, craving his or her accustomed freedom, will most likely express frustration in some way. One way is inappropriate urination. Or the cat becomes very aggressive venting his or her frustration on innocent furniture or leaving her graffiti on the wallpaper. Former outdoor cats are much less likely to accept a second cat. They often remain loners not tolerating other cats. If you find that your cat cannot adapt to the new indoor only circumstances try to find new and loving home for the animal – one where the cat has access to the outside. Otherwise the human-feline cohabitation becomes unbearable for all concerned.

Confined to indoors at first

A long-time indoor cat will enjoy excursions in the Great Outdoors but after a move he or she needs to stay inside for 14 days followed by initially short trips outside under supervision. Also feed your cat when he or she returns giving the cat a good reason to come back home. Outdoor cats need to be vaccinated and wormed more frequently than indoor only cats ensuring they are protected from diseases and infections. If you allow your cats outdoor access you should be prepared for the occasional ‘present’ of a mouse or bird proudly presented as a gift to their two-legged friends. Please praise your cat lavishly; scolding or hysterics would be an inappropriate reaction. Outdoor cats should be micro chipped and registered. This greatly enhances the chance of reuniting a cat with the owner.

A quiet place

It is important to remember that almost all outdoor cats prefer to do their business outside. If they can’t do this anymore, the litter tray in your house or flat naturally becomes a much more important place. Ensure that this is always clean and filled with ample fresh litter. If your cat meows and wants to go outside, carry them to the litter tray and coax them. Encourage your pet by stroking them and take them to the litter tray time and time again, insisting gently if you need to. If you have several cats, provide at least two trays. You can use air fresheners and odour neutralising sprays to make their quiet place more attractive.

Occupational therapy

Cats like anything that smells, rolls or rustles, and cat toys are designed to do just this. Balls that can be filled with a bell and a treat, little bags stuffed with catnip or play rods with feathers – everything a feline could ever want. It is however important to show your cat how to play and encourage them! Alongside the right setup and toys, cats also need more love and attention from their owners to get used to their changed environment.

Call into your local store today to discuss your cat’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts