Keeping Cats Happy Indoors.
will swear that their cats will be miserable
if they are cooped up in the house all the time.
This attitude perpetuates itself if the pet owner
makes no effort to provide the cat with a
stimulating environment. But with a little attention
to what a cat likes and needs, a pet owner can
create a home that keeps the cats healthy, safe,
her April 1990 Cat Fancy article, "Bringing the
Outdoors In," Barbara L. Diamond suggests that
cat owners take a few minutes to view the home
from the cat's perspective" in order to "shape the
healthiest and most rewarding indoor environment
possible." Here are some tips from Diamond
(along with a couple of our own) to help cat owners
keep their pets amused and fit behind closed
screened windows to let some fresh air in.
Fresh air and sunshine are great for cats. Just be
sure the screen is secure. if window ledges aren't
wide enough for the cats to sit on, shelves are
available that attach to ledges for cats to perch on
and watch the world go by.
pots of indoor greens for cats to chew on.
Grass, bird seed, alfalfa, or catnip will provide
cats with fresh, tasty treats that aren't exposed
to chemicals and pesticides.
cats something to do while everyone is
away. Hiding a few treats around the house gives
the pet something to look forward to. But cats do
catch on to this game quickly, so you have to be
sneaky. Open paper bags left out or open closets
can give cats new frontiers to explore.
a companion pet for cats who would be
alone otherwise. A compatible dog or a kitten of
the opposite sex will keep a cat company and will
also keep him or her more active.
the cat toys that are safe and stimulating.
'When choosing toys, try to think like a cat,"
Diamond advises. "Is the toy furry or feathery?
Can it be made to hop or fly? Does it move and
feel like small prey?" These kinds of toys will
provide cats with the most exercise and
also cautions, "Avoid toys with small or
loose parts that can become lodged in your cat's
throat or be swallowed." And don't forget a cat's
need to scratch and climb.
scratching post at least two feet high is
essential -- a floor to ceiling pole with perches is
even better. "Play games with your cat. Human
companionship is a very real need for cats. What
better way to provide this and make your cat happy
than by playing with him or her? In addition to
playing with cat toys, a cat may also enjoy games
of chase, peek-a-boo around doors, capturing
nontoxic soap bubbles, or chasing light spots
created with a flashlight or reflective object.
cats have their owner's love and attention and
lots to do on the inside, they won't miss the great
outdoors, which, after close examination, isn't so
great for cats at all.
an Outdoor Cat
Adjust to Life Indoors
it takes patience and work, an outdoor
cat can be turned into a perfectly content indoor
pet. The key is to make the conversion gradually
and to provide lots of attention and stimulation
while the 'sat is indoors. Begin by only letting the
cat outside during the middle of the day. Cats do
most of their hunting between dawn and dusk,
and this change will help shift them from the
hunting urge. Gradually shorten the length of time
the cat is outside until you no longer let him or her
Out at all. Cats are creatures of habit, so you must
be careful to slowly replace their old routine of
going outside with a new one of staying in.
Substitute outside excursions with periods of
special play time. Supervised trips Out on the
balcony, deck, or patio can make the transition
from outside to inside a little easier. Some cat
owners even screen in porches or small
enclosures from their homes. These enclosed
"outdoor" environments protect the cats yet allow
them to get fresh air and sunshine.
plenty to keep the cat occupied inside.
Especially important is extra play and attention
time. Cats need human companionship to be
happy, and when they spend all their time out of
doors, they get very little TLC. An outdoor cat may
welcome the indoors if he or she gets lots of love,
attention, and play.
is a tough one, but don't give in to your cat's
wails to be let out. If you are diligent, your cat will
eventually see that all the fuss is getting him or her
nowhere. It is true that some cats will develop
behavioral problems when they are no longer
allowed outside. Most of these problems can be
attributed to a change in routine that is too abrupt
or to lack of attention and stimulation inside. If
your cat becomes destructive or unhousetrained,
consult a veterinarian or animal behaviorist to
find ways to solve the problem. Remember that
these symptoms can also be attributed to
boredom and loneliness.
Lucas Donald ©1990 The HSUS.
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