Keeping your cat indoors is certainly much safer, but could lead to boredom, frustration and unwanted behaviour. So, follow our guidelines to make sure your cat enjoys good quality of life.
1. Choose the right breed
Certain breeds make much better indoor cats than others. Therefore you’ll be much better off going for a quiet and less active breed, such as a Persian, Colourpoint, Birman or Exotic. Stay clear of very active cats like Abyssinians, Somalis or Norwegian Forest Cats, as they are generally not happy when locked away from the excitement of the great outdoors.
Cats who are kept indoors are well protected from the elements and outdoor dangers. They won’t get trapped or tangled in plants and most certainly won’t get exposed to diseases and injuries from fighting. At the same time they might become frustrated with their limited surroundings. Frustration often leads to destructive behaviour. Forced inactivity could even result in illness or depression.
2. Teach your child ‘cat’ manners
Knowing how to handle and play with a cat does not come naturally to most children, but parents can teach them. Children need to learn:
– how to pick up, hold, pet and play with a cat.
– how to read cat body language.
– not to disturb a cat who is eating or sleeping.
– not to handle a cat roughly.
The normal, exuberant behaviour of children is often threatening to cats. Quick movements and loud noises startle them. It is vital that children understand this. Being stepped on or dropped by a child can cause serious injury to a cat or kitten. Even if there is no physical injury, a feline who is roughly treated is likely to become fearful and unfriendly. A cat’s preferred defence is to run away. Because young children cannot always handle a cat gently, or control their impulse to grab, yell and chase, parents should not leave preschoolers alone with cats or kittens. It’s advisable to keep them in different rooms or supervise their interactions when they are together.
3. Create a safe environment
Start by crawling around on the floor and in places where your cat might reach. You’ll discover a number of ‘danger zones’ soon enough. It’s not unusual for a curious or bored cat to try out her teeth on dangling wires. In order to prevent your cat from electrocuting herself, try to minimise or hide all the power cables in your home. Wires can be placed under carpets or tucked beneath the mouldings along the floor.
If you can’t hide the wires, try spraying a taste repellent on them. A vinegar and water solution will make them taste really bad. Also be aware that cats love climbing into open cupboards or appliances. Lock away all poisons and toxic solutions. Bleach, household cleaners, paracetamol, aspirin, laundry detergent, insecticides, paint, anti-freeze, petrol, fertiliser and rat poison may prove fatal to cats.
4. Provide your cat with toys
Cats who live indoors need to be provided with scratch posts and other means of exercise to prevent them from becoming frustrated and miserable. An area of the house with interesting shelves, boxes covered with carpeting or even a big log will offer great entertainment. A cat with no place to vent her frustrations will resort to scratching furniture and chewing electric cables and such. De-clawing a cat is not an option as it is a very inhumane and cruel act that leaves the cat psychologically damaged and in pain.
5. Give much of your own time
Spend quality time with your indoor cat. Play ‘chase’ games with toys on strings or sticks or take your cat for a walk on a harness in the garden. Remember, your indoor cat, if an only cat, only has you for company, so make the most of your time together.