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How to Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy

Jana worked in animal welfare with abused and unwanted pets. She loves sharing her hands-on experience regarding domestic and wild critters.

You can make your indoor cat happy, too.

You can make your indoor cat happy, too.

What You'll Learn About Basic Cat Care

  • Why keeping cats indoors can be better for their safety.
  • Why confined cats develop behavioral problems.
  • The advantages and drawbacks of adding a companion.
  • How toys and games can help.
  • How sterilization can improve your indoor cat's well-being.
  • More tips for a happy pet.

Why Is It Safer for Cats to Only Live Indoors?

Any roaming pet faces problems that are potentially dangerous, but cats encounter more than their fair share. Unlike dogs, felines are agile enough to scale walls and take on the world. Unfortunately, the great outdoors is full of predators, busy roads, poison and heartbreaking diseases like 'feline AIDS', which can be transmitted through contact with an infected cat. Purebreds have another reason to stay indoors. Popular breeds like Siamese and Persians risk being stolen. For all of these reasons, some owners prefer to keep their pets inside permanently.

Other Reasons Why Cats Might Live Inside

  • Recovering from surgery.
  • Living in an apartment somewhere on the eighth floor.
  • The weather threatens the cat's safety.

Behavioral Problems: The Cabin Fever Is Real

Kittens adapt to indoor life like little troopers. The problems start when they grow up, or you obtain an adult as a pet that was previously allowed to roam free. Either way, when cats realize there's a world outside, or they grow bored with their environment—probably both—then, followed by frustration, aggression can also develop. Some cats, especially during breeding season, get so angry and neurotic, that they bite their owners.

The Basics to a Happy Indoor Cat

You probably already have the basics covered, but let's review them again:

  • Caring for a cat indoors begins with its physical needs—clean water and good food.
  • Your cat probably sleeps on a variety of furniture, pillows and surfaces, but it still needs a comfy bed of its own.
  • Change the litter box often, and it doesn't hurt to make or buy a scratch pole.
  • Cats are glued to comfort, so make their environment a haven where their physical needs are fully met.
  • Needless to say, that also includes lots of attention for His Highness—chin scratching, brushing and back stroking.
Cats that like human interaction might not mind confinement as much when they receive a lot of attention.

Cats that like human interaction might not mind confinement as much when they receive a lot of attention.

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Read More From Pethelpful

Are Indoor Cats Happier Solo or in Pairs?

Owners of single cats often get the idea that their pet's loneliness can be countered by animal friends. Not a bad insight! Some pets thrive among their own kind. However, choosing to get another cat can either solve things or make them worse. On the plus side, a feline friend can keep a cat occupied. They play together and groom each other.

Problems can arise when the original cat doesn't like the looks of the newcomer. For the safety of both, introductions need to be made before the adoption to gauge if there's any prizefighting behavior in the future. If you obtain a kitten, always supervise and never assume the adult won't bite. Luckily, most well-balanced and well-loved adults are more curious (from a height) about a new kitten than hatching any plans of decapitation. Even if the bonding goes swell, one could end up with two cats that are friends but also two cats that are bored and indoors.

Keep Plenty of Toys

A flourishing industry supplies cats with toys. Catnip mice, wound-up mice, swinging balls on strings, puppets, you name it. Cats are like children. Favorite toys can keep the cat occupied for months while other objects are played with once or receive no interaction at all. The best way to find fun toys is to remember the pet's personality and past pleasures, which could suggest what they might like in the future. The simplest things can provide entertainment, even homemade inventions. Commercial doesn't always mean safe. There are some really dangerous toys on sale for cats, with small parts, feathers, fabric and toxins that could get ingested.

Cat games needn't be complicated. Many felines like spontaneous games or even just playing inside a box.

Cat games needn't be complicated. Many felines like spontaneous games or even just playing inside a box.

When Cats Play

When a cat plays, it's a good sign that it's happy. Few cats will play when hungry or listless. Luckily, felines love inventing games. Every cat-owned person (yes, they own you), can testify that each animal has its own games. It's understandable that you cannot indulge a pet all day long, but make time to engage in your cat's favorite things.

If he or she enjoys hunting your fingers when you move them under a blanket, it can keep a cat occupied and happy for a few minutes. Nearly all cats love something trailing on a string. They paw at it, pounce and bite such delights that activate their hunting instincts. In the same vein as choosing toys, one must assess the cat's character to engage it in enjoyable games. Such games last only minutes but a great perk is that the activity is relaxing for both the cat and owner.

How Sterilization Helps

Cats are ruled by a strong instinct to mate. This can make indoor cats incredibly frustrated, especially when it's a male that smells roaming females in heat. They have an acute sense of smell and hearing. Queens, also, will not be happy inside when they are ready to mate and there's no available male. Both genders can develop aggression towards an owner or other pets during this time. Sterilization has great health benefits, especially for females, but has also been known to settle a cat's temperament and some become downright couch potatoes.

More Tips to Keep Your Cat Happy

  • Indoor felines need exercise too. There are many options, such as structures designed for cats to climb, sleep on and scratch. Kind of like a kindergarten jungle with poles, platforms and toys.
  • Use catnip treats. The plain leaves or a catnip spray works best. Remember that the herb doesn't work on all cats, and a percentage of affected cats also don't get happy, they become crabby.
  • This may sound counter-intuitive, but don't hide the world from them. Leave windowsills clear for cats to sit on, especially where it's sunny. Every day, thousands of cats across the planet bake on windowsills and happily watch the rat race go by.

If you have a successful tip to make life easier for your pet inside the home, please share it in the comment section below and help make a house cat happy!

© 2018 Jana Louise Smit

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