Many owners are now deciding to keep their feline companions completely indoors. Indeed, indoor cats have longer, physically healthier lives than cats allowed outdoors, because they are kept away from outdoor risks, such as cat fights, road traffic and diseases. However, indoor cats are more likely to develop behavioural problems than those allowed outside.
To enrich the lives of indoor cats, we have compiled a “resource checklist"!
Cats eliminate to fulfil a fundamental need. However, they may also use eliminations as a way to mark their territory. To ensure that cats eliminate in their litter box, there are 4 main things to consider:
1. Litter tray hygiene – Clean the litter tray daily and wash the litter tray weekly with a mild detergent and rinse thoroughly.
2. Litter tray type and size – Most cats prefer large, uncovered litter trays. Trays with higher sides can be useful for cats that tend to scatter litter over the side whilst digging. Trays with lower sides should be provided to kittens and older cats.
3. Litter type – Once you find a litter that your cat likes, don’t change types! Cats often have individual preferences for certain litter types.
4. Litter tray location and number – The general rule with litter trays is one per cat and an additional tray for the house. Litter trays need to be kept in a quiet, but accessible location.
Scratching is a natural behaviour for cats. Scratching poles provide an alternative option for cats to scratch, saving your furniture and carpets! Scratching poles are available in a variety of styles and materials. Cats that scratch chair legs may prefer a vertical scratching pole. Just ensure that it is tall enough for them to stretch out. Cats that scratch carpets may prefer horizontal scratching poles. Scratching poles should be placed near sleeping areas or room entrances, so that they can leave scent marks defining their territory. Nail clipping can be easily performed to reduce damage done by scratching.
The cat is a natural hunter. Therefore, toys should be available which allow the cat to simulate this hunting activity. Most cats prefer to hunt specific creatures. By identifying your cats “prey” preference, it will enable you to find toys that your cat will be more likely to play with. Try both “bird” and “mouse” toys at the same time to see which toy they prefer. Sometimes even the simplest toys, such as scrunched up paper, can provide hours of entertainment. Toys can be rotated to maintain interest.
Outdoor Cat Enclosures
Outdoor cat enclosures provide the best of both worlds, enabling your cat to enjoy the sights and sounds of the outside world without exposing them to outdoor risks. There are many options available, including purpose built “Catmax” enclosures, or do-it-yourself high fencing with angled returns and Elizabethan collars on trees. Some cats can also be trained to walk on a harness and lead.
Cats sometimes like to graze on grass and herbs. Potted plants can be placed indoors to allow them access. Plants, such as catnip, catmint, thyme, sage and parsley, can all be grown indoors.
Some cats will adapt more readily to an indoor lifestyle than others. Cats which have spent years outdoors may not accept an indoor lifestyle. It is up to the owner and their cat to assess the advantages and disadvantages of the different lifestyles.