It's somewhat of a sweeping generalisation that going outside is pertinent to your cat’s happiness. Whilst it may be the case for some felines, others are more than happy to fulfil their needs in the great indoors!
For example, simply playing with your cat and providing them with engaging and entertaining toys can help fulfil their natural stalking instinct, as well as giving them the daily exercise they need! Not to mention, it keeps the local wildlife safe!
So, if your cat prefers his or her home comforts we’ve pulled together some useful tips to help keep your cat happy indoors!
Start them young
Kittens who are kept indoors are usually happy to stay there as they grow up.
Safe outdoor space
It’s important to provide indoor cats with an area to experience the outdoors safely, e.g. a “catio” (an outdoor enclosure). This will allow them to get a taste of the world outdoors whilst removing the potential risks! A standard fence may not prevent other animals from entering your garden, so you should always be present when you allow your cat outside.
Be sure to cat-proof the garden and ensure there are no escape routes or potentially dangerous plants or objects that could harm your cat.
Depending on your neighbourhood, you might consider purchasing a harness and training your cat to walk on a lead. It’s important that you’re confident you will not encounter loose dogs. This training takes time and patience, for both of you, and it's most definitely easier when your cat is young. Some cats can even be harnessed and tied to a stationary object to enjoy a certain amount of freedom in the outdoors while you are gardening nearby (but be sure to never leave your cat alone while they are tethered).
Buy a ready-made cat tree, OR, get creative and make your own. Cat trees provide great climbing opportunities and, in multi-cat households, creates more play and rest areas by taking advantage of vertical space. If you can, locate the cat tree next to a window so your cat can watch the action outdoors and spy on the neighbourhood goings on!
Play with your cat EVERY day. Be sure to try different types of toys to ensure that you keep your cat engaged. The toys should allow your cat to stalk, chase, pounce and kick, all of their natural instincts when it comes to stalking prey.
Cats can be neat freaks, so clean the litter box regularly.
Even indoor cats should still be outfitted with a collar and visible identification. We are all human and it’s easy to sometimes forget and leave the window or door open, offering a tempting opportunity for your cat. The collar and ID could help someone get your pet back to you.
For extra insurance, ensure your cat microchipped and that your contact information with the microchip registry is up to date.
Unfortunately the hard-wired need for cats to hunt is in their DNA so it’s likely impossible for us to stop completely, however, there are some things you could try to make it less likely!
1.Give your cat a bell collar, which will alert their prey to their approach giving them a chance to run or fly away.
2.Birds and rodents are most vulnerable just before sunset and after sunrise, so avoid letting your cat outside around these times.
3.If all else fails and your cat is still bringing you these undesirable but thoughtful gifts(!), then you can try and fulfil the cat’s need to hunt with some engaging games, e.g. letting your cat chase some string which they eventually catch, throwing paper balls for them to chase and find; activities like this allow your cat to simulate the need to hunt without actually killing anything.
Whilst these are by no means guaranteed to work, they are worth a try! Good luck!
My cat who is three years old and a rescue cat was kept indoors for about a year. Started letting him out and mostly stayed in the garden but has started getting adventurous going over the fence and across the road. Last week he brought me in a small rat then a shrew and today the second bird. What do I do apart from keeping him in this is really freaking me out. I live near countryside.