Hillary Hart, D.V.M 
Vet with Hart Veterinary
House Call Practice LLC

10 Tips to Keep Your Cat Happy Indoors

It’s a myth that going outside is a requirement for feline happiness. Playing regularly with your cat and providing him / her with entertaining toys can easily satisfy their stalking instinct, keep them stimulated and provide the exercise they need to stay healthy and happy. It also keeps them and local wildlife safe!

Here are some tips for making the great indoors an interesting, feline-friendly environment, while meeting your cat’s needs.

Start them young: Kittens who are kept indoors are usually happy to stay there as they grow up.

Screened porches and “catios”: If possible, provide a screened porch for your cat to experience the outdoors safely. Consider building or purchasing a “catio” or similar enclosure to allow your cat to get a taste of the outside without the risks. Be sure to cat-proof the yard by checking that your fence has no escape routes, toxic plants, garden chemicals and other dangerous objects.

Walk your cat with a harness: If you live in a peaceful neighborhood in which you can walk your cat without encountering loose dogs, consider buying a harness and training your cat to walk on a leash. This training takes time and patience, for both you and your cat, and is easiest when your cat is young.

Perches and window frame enclosures: Consider installing a perch indoors near a sunny window; padded perches can be purchased at many pet supply stores or online. Another option is an enclosure that sits in a window frame (much like an air conditioning unit) and provides a secure space in which your kitty can hang out. Larger perches can attach to the side of a house or ground-floor apartment patio.

Cat trees and kitty condos: Buy a ready-made cat tree or kitty condo, or make your own. A cat tree can be short, or may stretch from floor to ceiling. It provides 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.

Play time: Play with your cat each day. Try different types of toys that allow your cat to stalk, chase, pounce and kick. When you can’t be there to supervise, leave out “toys” such as paper bags (with the handles removed) or cardboard boxes. Be sure to switch the toys from time to time so that they seem “new” and more interesting to your cat.

Bring the outdoors inside: Plant cat grass (available from pet supply stores) in indoor pots so your feline can graze.

Clean house: Cats can be neat freaks, so clean the litter box regularly to prevent litter box problems.

Microchip for safety: Even indoor cats should be microchipped. The occasional open window (make sure your windows have secure screens) or door offers a tempting opportunity for your cat to escape outdoors. Make sure to keep your contact information current with the microchip registry. If you do lose your cat, contact Pinellas County Animal Services immediately for in-depth instructions to help find your cat.

For the Animals,

Hillary Hart, DVM
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References: Humane Society of the United States