Caring for your cat – keeping indoor cats happy
Ideally all cats would be allowed accessto the outdoors to express their naturalbehaviour. However some cats need to beconfined to the indoors. The decision onwhether to keep your cat inside shouldbe assessed on your cat’s personality,health, previous experience, home, localoutside environment and your ownpreferences. If kept solely indoors, yourcat should be provided with ways toexhibit its natural behaviours to ensureits welfare, reduce dependency on you andavoid undesirable behavioural issues. Here’s how. One: keep them occupied. It’s important to allow your catopportunities to exhibit their naturalhunting behaviour, as it keeps themmentally stimulated and releases feel-good hormones called endorphins. Withoutthis, your cat may suffer from behaviouralissues such as aggression, scratching,spraying, overgrooming, house soiling anddepression. Their hunting behaviour canoften be triggered by toys which moveand attract their attention such asfishing rod toys. Depending on the age and mobility ofyour cat, it’s best to play with them forone to two minutes, five to 10 times per day. You can also keep your cat amused withother toys, climbing towers or activitycentres and create interest at mealtimesby hiding biscuits in puzzle balls orenrichment toys, to give part or all oftheir daily ration. However it is best tointroduce these gradually to ensurethey have enough to eat and don’t becomefrustrated. And swap them regularly tokeep things interesting. Two: safe places. Without access to the outdoors, your catis unable to escape some of thedisruptions that can occur in the home,such as building work, visitors or otherpets. This can create stress, so it isimportant to always provide your catwith easily accessible places to hide,which will help to make them feel safeand secure. A hiding place can besomething as simple as a cardboard boxwith large holes for access and ablanket. Alternatively you could offerspace under a bed or in a wardrobe withthe door left ajar, remembering your catshould not be disturbed while it ishiding. Cats feel safer if they can viewtheir surroundings from a height. Providing extra vertical spaces they canuse increases their territory and helpsthem feel secure. This is a common copingmechanism for cats that feel anxious orfearful. These can also double up assleeping places. On average, cats spendabout 16 hours intermittently sleepingthroughout the day and will prefer warm,comfortable and safe places to rest. Three: feeding. Cats like to eat and drink awayfrom their litter tray as it’s morehygienic. However many people don’trealise that cats also like to have eachof their food and water bowls inseparate places too. This stems back to thecat’s evolutionary past when they wouldeat in a different area to avoidcontaminating their drinking source withthe remains of their prey. Eating anddrinking can be vulnerable activitiesfor your cat, so try placing bowls slightly away fromthe wall where they can sit facing their surroundings. Four: indoor risks. It’s important to remember to keep cupboards,washing machines, tumble dryers andtoilet lids closed to avoid any risk ofinjury or drowning. Cats are verysusceptible to poisoning and a number ofhousehold items, including some plantsand flowers such as lilies, are toxic andshould be kept safely away or out of thehouse. Any potential escape routes should befenced over with a strong wire mesh orscreen or simply kept closed. It isrecommended that you microchip your cat,even if they live indoors, to increasethe chance of them being reunited withyou if they escape and go missing. Theyshould also be vaccinated and neutered.