You’ve probably heard the statistics: while an indoor cat usually lives 15-20 years, outdoor cats survive only 2-5 years on average. Outside, there are predators, cars, and toxins… But can a cat ever really be happy as an indoor-only kitty? Fortunately, the answer is yes! Here are some things you can do to make sure your feline friend stays content with a safe inside life:
Make the Indoors Fun:
One of the most important ways to keep kitty happy is the simplest: play time! A good daily play session with her humans will focus kitty’s energy. There are also lots of toys that can help keep your feline busy while you’re out of the house. Food dispensing toys are especially helpful since they engage hunting instincts and encourage your kitty to stay active. If you’re willing to invest in high-tech toys, there are even inventions that let you talk to your cat, give her treats, or play with a laser from afar. A cat tree or kitty-friendly shelving is great addition, too—kitties love to climb and pretend they’re fierce wildcats.
Your kitty probably loves a good show just as much as you do! You can purchase DVDs of cat-specific programming, complete with chirping birds and furry rodents. Or, for an all-natural viewing experience, try installing a cat shelf on one of your windows so that kitty can watch the outside world. Bonus: place bird or squirrel feeders outside that window, and she’ll be captivated for hours. Aquariums are also fun for felines to watch. (Just make sure to use a protective covering on top so that kitty doesn’t go fishing.)
Having a feline playmate can prevent loneliness and boredom. Younger cats especially benefit from companionship. They will keep each other amused for hours—and their antics will be entertaining for you to watch, too! If you have an older cat who’s used to living alone, she may be more set in her ways. Choose a mellow, easy-going cat if you add a friend to your household.
Still want your cat to experience the great outdoors? Never fear, there are safe ways to let kitty put her paws in the grass:
With a little patience and some reward-based training, many cats can learn to walk on a harness. You might just take your harnessed indoor cat out to enjoy the backyard—or even for a walk around the neighborhood!
A “catio” is a protected outdoor enclosure that lets your indoor cat get some fresh air. If you have some space and a little DIY know-how, your kitties can have their very own catio! (Not handy? Not to worry! There are businesses that will help you design and build the catio of your dreams.) Catios range from simple to very elaborate (think walkways, tunnels, and multiple buildings…).
It’s also possible to turn your whole yard into a catio: cat fencing creates a barrier that cats can’t climb over. A quick internet search will give you lots of options.
However you decide to keep your furry friend content, you’ll have a happy—longer—life together when kitty stays indoors!