Friday, May 28, 2010
By Julia Williams
Many people nowadays choose to keep their cats indoors, largely because it’s so much safer for the cat. I think given a choice, most cats would probably prefer being able to roam outside whenever and wherever they wished. It’s in their feline nature to want to climb trees, hunt mice and take long naps in the sun. But cats can’t comprehend the dangers that lurk outdoors. They don’t understand that we just want them to be alive and well. Nevertheless, it’s our choice to make, not theirs.
As I said in my article on Indoor Versus Outdoor Cats, I don’t believe there’s only one right way. Whether to keep them inside or let them go out is a personal decision that every responsible pet owner must make for themselves and their cat(s). Situations often change too, which may require a new decision. That’s what happened to me a few years ago, and now my outdoor loving kitties primarily stay indoors.
I wasn’t certain they would be able to adjust to indoor life, since they’d been able to roam outside for years. Certainly, it’s easier if a kitten is never allowed outside. After all, they don’t know what they are missing if they never go out. But I’m happy to report that even cats who’ve tasted freedom can be happy indoors. Because mine were raised being able to go outside, I do allow them some limited time outdoors in the summer. I think this helps them to be more content with living indoors. There are also many other things I do that contribute to them having a rich, fulfilling life indoors. You really can’t expect any indoor cat to be happy without meeting the three basic needs of mental stimulation, daily activity, and love & companionship.
Here are some ways to make an indoor cat’s life enjoyable.
1. Window perches let them watch the birds and squirrels, and provide a cozy place to nap in the warm sun. They’re inexpensive and very easy to install. For a no-cost alternative, place a cat blanket on the back of a chair or couch that’s located by a sunny window.
2. Cat trees, towers and perches give them a place to play, climb, observe, nap and scratch. There is a mind-boggling array of cat furniture available today, so it should be a snap to find things that match your décor and your budget.
3. Keep plenty of different cat toys on hand. You’ll want to have lots of toys that your cat can play with alone, such as furry mice, balls and catnip-laced soft toys. There are also toys that stimulate them mentally – one I love is a wooden box with lots of cut-out holes. You place toys and/or treats inside for your cat to “hunt,” and ultimately fish out of the holes. Equally important are the interactive cat toys that require your company, such as feathers or furry toys that dangle from a pole. My cats love their remote-control mouse that zooms across the floor, and watching them scurry after it makes me laugh, so it’s a win-win toy. Besides alleviating boredom, playing games with your cat can deepen your bond.
4. Cat runs are designed to let your kitty enjoy some fresh air, bird-watching and sunshine from the safety of your backyard. They’re made from a sturdy mesh material, come in lots of different sizes, and are quick and easy to set up. Some models have add-on sections so you can make the run larger or customize it.
5. DVDs for cats let them watch all sorts of wildlife on your television. They’re designed to loop continuously, so you can put it on before you go to work and it will play for them all day long.
6. Spend some quality quiet time with your cat each day. This can include petting and brushing them, or simply sitting with them and talking to them. That last suggestion might sound a little “crazy cat lady” like to you, but I really do believe cats enjoy human companionship, and they like to feel loved just like we do.
7. If you have an “only cat,” consider getting another cat for company, especially if no one is home all day. Cats may be solitary creatures by nature, but that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy having some company in the house. If your cat is still relatively young, a new cat or kitten may encourage their playful side to come out more often.
Read more articles by Julia Williams