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How to Give Your Cat a Great Life Indoors
Last weekend, C&G attended the incredibly popular Cat Lovers Show at the Royal Exhibition Building. Today, we’re sharing some insights from Dr Katrina Warren who presented on how to give your cat a great life in your home.
A cat’s life expectancy is dependant on a variety of factors, from the type of road you live on to pure luck. That said, statistics have shown that many cats who are free to roam outdoors don’t see the age of 5, while cats given a healthy life indoors can see ages 18-20. Many assume it’s simply cruel to keep a cat indoors, but if you’re providing them with a nurturing environment in which they can thrive, cats can live extremely happy, safe and fulfilled lives indoors.
Keeping Cats in the Home
It’s usually easier on you and the cat to keep them indoors from a very young age. That way, they’ve never known any different. Trying to keep a previously outdoor cat indoors can be stressful, and you may find they try to escape. Decide early on if your cat will stay indoors, and stick to that plan, and look at your home and its entry and exit points. If you live in an apartment, would the cat be safe if he/she did jump over your leg out the front door? If you’ve got your own entryway, look at where your cat could possibly run and hide – and consider blocking areas off to protect them.
Protecting Your Furniture from Scratching
A big concern among homeowners with pets indoors is damage to furnishings. Unfortunately, cats are explorers. They like to sharpen their claws as it’s a natural instinct for them, and if they’ve nowhere else to scratch, they’ll probably use your couch and carpet. Buy a scratching post or board early on, and train them to use it by dragging string or ribbon along and up the scratching area. They’ll recognise the feeling with their paws and remember to go there to sharpen up. Look for options that allow your cat to scratch on a flat surface, as well as a vertical surface. They like to be able to scratch with their whole body!
Litter training your indoor cat is important at a young age. Kittens actually learn to use a litter tray by copying their mother when they’re first born, but if you’re having to toilet train the kitten or cat yourself, it’s a game of trial and error until your cat gets it right. Look out for signs they need to urinate or defecate, and gently place them in the litter tray. Reward them when they use the litter, but don’t punish them when they have an accident. The best way to approach out-of-litter toileting is to thoroughly clean the area with a non-ammonia cleaner to remove the scent, and keep trying to acquaint your cat with the litter.
If you have more than one cat, always make sure there is one litter box per cat, plus one spare. Crowding can be stressful for cats, and you may find they won’t use a dirty litter box. Place several around the home and look out for which ones are most preferred.
Keep a Routine
Routines are important for indoor cats. If they’re calling out for food or attention inside the house, you’re going to hear them and get tired of the constant meowing pretty quickly. Keeping routines for feeding time and attention time can manage expectation with your indoor cat. They have a lot of love for you, and will probably want to be around you a lot, particularly when they’re young. By getting them to understand when to expect food and attention, you can enjoy peace and quiet to work or sleep at other times.
Find Controlled Outdoor Spaces
Balconies can offer indoor cats a little bit of outdoor experience, but be very careful that they don’t try to jump off. While you might assume that 8 floors is far too high to try and jump, cats are very brave animals. Invest in meshing or screens to block off any potential jumping platforms to protect your cat from falls. If you have more outdoor space, a cat run or enclosure may give your cat some more freedom.
Build an Engaging Environment
Indoor cats can get bored and lonely if you’re at work during the day, so it’s important to ensure they have enough to engage their attention when they’re alone. Tiered climbing trees can keep them busy and allow them to explore different viewpoints within your home. You can also find toys that can be played autonomously, like this door hanging feather toy or this ball circuit toy.
The inaugural Cat Lovers Show was so popular in 2018 that the 2019 show has already been booked. Pop it in your calendars for November 30 next year!