Caring for your cat – keeping indoor cats happy

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Ideally all cats would be allowed access
to the outdoors to express their naturalbehaviour. However some cats need to be
confined to the indoors. The decision onwhether to keep your cat inside should
be assessed on your cat’s personality,health, previous experience, home, local
outside environment and your ownpreferences. If kept solely indoors, your
cat should be provided with ways toexhibit its natural behaviours to ensure
its welfare, reduce dependency on you andavoid undesirable behavioural issues.
Here’s how. One: keep them occupied. It’s important to allow your cat
opportunities to exhibit their naturalhunting behaviour, as it keeps them
mentally stimulated and releases feel-good hormones called endorphins. Without
this, your cat may suffer from behaviouralissues such as aggression, scratching,
spraying, overgrooming, house soiling anddepression. Their hunting behaviour can
often be triggered by toys which moveand attract their attention such as
fishing rod toys. Depending on the age and mobility of
your 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 activity
centres and create interest at mealtimesby hiding biscuits in puzzle balls or
enrichment toys, to give part or all oftheir daily ration. However it is best to
introduce these gradually to ensurethey have enough to eat and don’t become
frustrated. And swap them regularly tokeep things interesting. Two: safe places.
Without access to the outdoors, your catis unable to escape some of the
disruptions that can occur in the home,such as building work, visitors or other
pets. This can create stress, so it isimportant to always provide your cat
with easily accessible places to hide,which will help to make them feel safe
and secure. A hiding place can besomething as simple as a cardboard box
with large holes for access and ablanket. Alternatively you could offer
space under a bed or in a wardrobe withthe door left ajar, remembering your cat
should not be disturbed while it ishiding. Cats feel safer if they can view
their surroundings from a height. Providing extra vertical spaces they can
use increases their territory and helpsthem feel secure. This is a common coping
mechanism for cats that feel anxious orfearful. These can also double up as
sleeping places. On average, cats spendabout 16 hours intermittently sleeping
throughout 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 more
hygienic. However many people don’trealise that cats also like to have each
of their food and water bowls inseparate places too. This stems back to the
cat’s evolutionary past when they wouldeat in a different area to avoid
contaminating their drinking source withthe remains of their prey. Eating and
drinking 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 of
injury or drowning. Cats are verysusceptible to poisoning and a number of
household items, including some plantsand flowers such as lilies, are toxic and
should be kept safely away or out of thehouse. Any potential escape routes should befenced over with a strong wire mesh or
screen or simply kept closed. It isrecommended that you microchip your cat,
even if they live indoors, to increasethe chance of them being reunited with
you if they escape and go missing. Theyshould also be vaccinated and neutered.

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