Most of us know that indoor cats are safer and live longer lives, but some believe indoor cats are missing out, because they cannot engage in their natural behaviors without spending time outdoors. The truth is, indoor cats can—and should—live happy, safe, and engaging lives indoors because they are protected from the many outdoor dangers, and you can create a cat-friendly indoor environment that meets their every need. Our team at Haskell Valley Veterinary dispels some common myths about keeping cats indoors, and also dispels the notion that they are only happy outdoors.
Myth #1: Indoor cats can’t enjoy climbing
Your cat doesn’t need to scale trees to use their climbing skills. Climbing is important for cats—kittens climb to develop muscle strength and flexibility, and to learn balance and what they can do with their body, while adult cats climb mostly because it’s fun. Climbing is good exercise, and cats feel secure in elevated areas where they can safely view their surroundings. Here are some ways you can provide your indoor cat with vertical climbing opportunities:
- Cat trees — Cat trees are available in many shapes and sizes with broad bases on sturdy stands and extended arms. Some also have holes or tunnels where your cat can hide.
- Window perch — Install a window perch that your cat can climb. Choose a sunny spot with a view of a bird feeder, and your cat will be entertained for hours.
- Wall-mounted shelves — If you already have shelving in your home, make some room for your cat where they can explore new heights. Encourage climbing with catnip sprinkled on the shelves.
Myth #2: Only indoor cats scratch the furniture
You don’t need to sacrifice your furniture for your cat’s scratching needs. Cats scratch for a variety of reasons, including:
- Nail maintenance
- Territory marking
- Stress relief
To ensure your drapes and furniture remain intact, encourage appropriate scratching with scratching posts placed throughout the house in areas your cat often frequents, including their favorite resting spots, near their food and water bowls, and anywhere else they frequently spend their time. Ensure your cat’s scratching post is tall enough for a full body stretch, includes horizontal and vertical scratching surfaces, and includes various textures (e.g., corrugated cardboard, sisal, wood).
Myth #3: Indoor cats are always bored
A life indoors doesn’t have to be boring, and you can easily keep your cat entertained.
- Engaging toys — Get your cat moving and tap into their hunting instincts with interactive cat toys, such as feather wands or motion-activated mice, that let them stalk and pounce. Switch out their toys regularly to keep them new and interesting.
- A catio — A catio—or cat patio—is a safely enclosed outdoor area where your cat can enjoy the fresh air. You can create a similar environment with a screen door where your cat can sit on the inside, but still feel the cool breeze and sunshine.
- Walks — Some cats will learn to tolerate a harness and leash, and can be trained to go on walks. However, leash-training a cat takes time and patience, and not all cats will enjoy the experience.
- Puzzle feeders — Puzzle feeders challenge your cat’s mind as they forage for the hidden treats.
- Cat tunnels — Cat tunnels allow your cats to pretend that they’re in the wild.
One of the best ways to ensure your cat is happy and healthy is spending quality time together every day. Whether you play with your cat on the floor or cuddle up together on the couch, you will strengthen your bond and improve your cat’s wellbeing.
Myth #4: Indoor cats don’t need annual exams
Preventive care is essential for every cat’s long-term health, and indoor cats are no exception. Adult cats should be examined by a veterinarian at least annually to ensure their vaccinations and parasite preventives are up to date, and to catch and treat potential diseases in their earliest stages when the outcomes are best.
We’re always here for you and your cat and ready to help with any concerns about indoor versus outdoor cats. Contact our team at the Haskell Valley Veterinary Clinic to schedule your cat’s annual wellness exam, and to help ensure they are happy and healthy, no matter where they live.