Happy Kitty: The Principles of Indoor Cat Care
Many of the cats of yesteryear lived their lives outdoors; their days spent hunting, defending their territories, and meowing at the moon. Today, the majority of cat owners understand that keeping cats inside not only keeps them healthier but also increases their lifespan.
Although they are better off than their outdoor counterparts, indoor cats often face issues when it comes to exercise, mental stimulation, and weight management. Thanks to major advances in the fields of animal behavior and veterinary science, we now know more than ever about indoor cat care and how to keep kitty happy, healthy, and enjoying life every day.
Indoor Cat Care Basics
Keeping our furry loved ones safe is the number one priority of responsible pet owners, yet it’s easy to assume that indoor cats don’t require the same level of protection as their outdoor peers. All it takes is a door or window left open or a broken screen to allow a cat to slip out (or other cats, wildlife, or insects to get in), which is why indoor cats need:
- To be microchipped and wear a collar with ID tags
- Be up-to-date on all of their core vaccinations
- On flea, tick, and heartworm preventive medications year-round
Taking Care of Business
Boredom, anxiety, or stress can result in house-soiling issues for indoor cats. Keep your cat happily using his or her litter box with the following tips:
- Litter boxes should be placed in a quiet, easily accessible location. If you have more than one cat, aim to provide one litter box per cat, plus one extra.
- Cats generally prefer clean litter boxes, so be sure to scoop solid waste from the box at least once per day. Once per week, dump the litter, wash the box with a mild detergent, and refill.
- If your cat suddenly refuses to use the litter box, give us as a call as it may be due to an undiagnosed health condition.
Even if all of a cat’s physical must-haves are met, he or she still needs an interesting and enriching environment to avoid boredom, depression, and destructive behaviors. Creating outlets for a cat’s natural instincts doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, so try these ideas for starters:
- Playing regularly with your cat and providing plenty of interesting toys can help to satisfy his or her hunting/stalking instinct and offer an outlet for exercise.
- Providing your cat with the opportunity to scratch, a natural feline behavior, without ruining your couch or other surfaces, means using a high quality scratching post or two.
- Installing a perch near a window or sliding glass door gives kitty a comfortable spot from which to observe the goings-on outside.
- Providing opportunities to climb by installing a homemade or store bought cat tree (sometimes called a “kitty condo”) can make for a happy cat!
- Bringing the outdoors in with a few strategically placed pots of cat grass or other cat-friendly greenery for kitty to nibble on is a wonderful way to give your cat a taste of the outdoors. Make sure your cat doesn’t have access to lilies or any other houseplant that may be toxic to cats.
- Giving your cat a chance to “hunt” for his or her food can be done by hiding pieces of kibble throughout the home, or using a premade or DIY food puzzle.
- Leash training is possible with most cats and is a great way for you and kitty to explore the neighborhood together, safely.
Do you have questions about indoor cat care? Give the cat lovers at AIMSS a call!