There are various reasons why certain people prefer their loveable ball of fur to rather stay indoors, and it is definitely safer. Where the great outdoors supply a myriad of natural activities and stimulation to adventurous cats, the dangers sometimes outweigh the benefits. When keeping your cat safer indoors, it is important to provide extra physical and mental stimulation. Here are some practical tips to follow.
Before confining your cat indoors, find out whether the breed will be happy inside. Quiet and less active breeds like Persians, Colourpoints, Birmans, Russians and Exotics will be happier inside than very active cats like Abyssinians or Norwegian Forest Cats.
1. Safer environment
Cats love to explore and we don’t always understand why they would climb into a confined space that we find ‘unnatural’. Therefore, it is important to get down to the level of your cat. That’s right – on your hands and knees, or even flat down on your tummy. Move around and try to find areas that can be harmful to your cat.
Don’t be surprised if she ventures into the open tumble dryer or washing machine. Always keep appliance doors closed, and check before using them. This especially goes for dangerous places like ovens.
Lock away any poisonous and toxic solutions, which include bleach, cleaners, medication, antifreeze, fuel and rat poison. These can be fatal to your kitty cat. The same goes for electrical wiring. Where possible, keep wires out of your cat’s reach or cover them.
2. Children’s behaviour
As your lovely furball won’t be able to escape into the garden from running and screaming children, or kids who want to hold on to her, it is important to teach children from early on to respect the cat and to let her go when she’s had enough. A child should never hold on to a cat against her will, or follow her around when she wants some quiet alone time.
3. Quality time
On the other side of the coin, it is important to give your cat some quality time, especially when she is the only cat. She will become lonely and want your companionship – that is after all why you got a cat in the first place. Love and play with her.
4. Keep her occupied
While it’s easy to keep your cat occupied when you are home, it’s difficult to entertain her while you are not at home. She might become frustrated with her limited surroundings, and it may even lead to destructive behaviour, such as scratching furniture and curtains. She might even get depressed or fall ill. Therefore it is important to keep her occupied.
5. Toys galore
Many toys will keep her busy to curb boredom, but do ensure that the toys are safe for her. You can buy or make your own toys (watch out for future editions of Animaltalk on how to make your own DIY toys). Toys such as feathers on sticks, little furry mice and toys stuffed with catnip or her favourite treats will entertain her for hours. And do play with her.
6. Adventure area
It may take some imagination, and you can always search for ideas on the internet, to turn your home, or part of your home, into an adventure park for your cat. Build shelves and walkways along the walls and ceilings, with cosy, sunny spots and interesting hiding places.
7. Indoor garden
Bring some garden elements into your home or turn an indoor courtyard into a cat-friendly garden with non-toxic plants, tree stumps, a sandy area, a sunny spot for basking and a high perch from where your cat can ‘survey’ her territory.
8. Hiding spots
Every cat should have her own ‘cave’ where she can hide from the rest of the world when she feels nervous or needs some peace and quiet. These bolt holes can be as simple as a cardboard box with one open side, placed in a quiet area where nobody can bother her.
9. Scratch post
A well-made scratch post covered in carpeting, or a cat gym, will keep your cat entertained physically and mentally for hours. This will also keep her from scratching your furniture and curtains.
10. Clean toilet
Everybody appreciates a clean bathroom, and so does your cat. Keep her litter tray clean and private. Do not place her litter tray in high-traffic areas, and clean the tray every day – two or three times a day is even better. Make sure that each cat has her own litter tray to avoid competition and stress.