Category Archives: indoor cat

How to Help an Outdoor Cat Come Indoors

By Julia Williams

Until about six years ago, I had indoor/outdoor cats. As their guardian, I made this choice for them knowing there were risks involved. At the time, I weighed the pros and cons of indoor versus outdoor, and also took into consideration that my country property was as safe as any outdoor place could be. Various reasons led me to rethink my decision and begin the arduous task of trying to convince my outdoor-loving kitties that being indoors wasn’t so bad.

It’s been a challenge, and while there have been no converts per say, Rocky and Annabelle seem okay with indoor living. I still let them go outdoors some, usually when I’m in my garden or playing with them. Since they were outside at will for their first three years, I won’t deny them these moments in the sun they clearly love. But when I tell them no, they don’t appear to mind.

Mickey is a completely different story. During the harsh winter, he seems resigned to being indoors, but come spring he is desperate to be outside. He cries nonstop, paces, jumps on me, scolds me loudly, and tries to escape at every opportunity. Only someone with a heart of stone could ignore his distress and keep him indoors. I want him to be safe, but what’s the point if he’s completely miserable?

Making the Switch

There are things you can do to help an outdoor cat come indoors, which I’ll share with you here. Rocky and Belle are proof that some cats adjust and are happy indoors. However, if you have a cat like Mickey, be aware that they may never take to indoor life no matter what. An article I read said cats like Mickey would eventually give up demanding to go out if you ignored their pleas, but I disagree. I don’t believe Mickey would ever be okay being an indoor only cat. First, he’s 13 and was allowed out for 7 years. Secondly, I think it’s his nature. I’ve become convinced that some cats just have more ‘wild’ in them.

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A “Catio” Lets Kitties Safely Enjoy the Outdoors

By Julia Williams

My new favorite TV show is Animal Planet’s Must Love Cats. The show is billed as “a celebration of fascinating felines and the fascinating people who love them,” which is spot on. It’s hosted by musician John Fulton, who travels across America to find pawesome kitties, cat-obsessed people and interesting stories about “all things cat.” I was pleasantly surprised to see stories about many things I’ve already written about on this blog, such as Matilda the Algonquin Hotel Cat, potty training your kitty, and the Cat House on the Kings sanctuary. Haha – I had my finger on the pulse of cat culture, and I didn’t even know it! The show also covers many things I didn’t even know existed, such as cat poo coffee (ewwww!), a kitty with four ears, feline fashion shows, posh cat-only hotels, and whimsical cat statues in Catskill, New York.

Last week’s episode of Must Love Cats featured “catios,” something I knew a little about but had never seen on such a grand scale. A catio (cat + patio) is a securely enclosed balcony, deck or other outdoor area that gives kitties the opportunity to be outdoors in the fresh air. They can range from small practical structures, to full-on fantasy playgrounds for cats with multiple ledges, ladders, ramps, tunnels, catwalks (ahem) and natural scratching posts. A small catio is pretty much just a cage, which I don’t think any cat would like even if it is outdoors. The giganti-cat model featured on Must Love Cats, however, is definitely something indoor kitties would appreciate.

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Can an Outdoor-Loving Cat Be Happy Living Indoors?


By Julia Williams

Many people nowadays choose to keep their cats indoors, largely because it’s so much safer for the cat. I think given a choice, most cats would probably prefer being able to roam outside whenever and wherever they wished. It’s in their feline nature to want to climb trees, hunt mice and take long naps in the sun. But cats can’t comprehend the dangers that lurk outdoors. They don’t understand that we just want them to be alive and well. Nevertheless, it’s our choice to make, not theirs.

As I said in my article on Indoor Versus Outdoor Cats, I don’t believe there’s only one right way. Whether to keep them inside or let them go out is a personal decision that every responsible pet owner must make for themselves and their cat(s). Situations often change too, which may require a new decision. That’s what happened to me a few years ago, and now my outdoor loving kitties primarily stay indoors.

I wasn’t certain they would be able to adjust to indoor life, since they’d been able to roam outside for years. Certainly, it’s easier if a kitten is never allowed outside. After all, they don’t know what they are missing if they never go out. But I’m happy to report that even cats who’ve tasted freedom can be happy indoors. Because mine were raised being able to go outside, I do allow them some limited time outdoors in the summer. I think this helps them to be more content with living indoors. There are also many other things I do that contribute to them having a rich, fulfilling life indoors. You really can’t expect any indoor cat to be happy without meeting the three basic needs of mental stimulation, daily activity, and love & companionship.

Here are some ways to make an indoor cat’s life enjoyable.

1. Window perches let them watch the birds and squirrels, and provide a cozy place to nap in the warm sun. They’re inexpensive and very easy to install. For a no-cost alternative, place a cat blanket on the back of a chair or couch that’s located by a sunny window.

2. Cat trees, towers and perches give them a place to play, climb, observe, nap and scratch. There is a mind-boggling array of cat furniture available today, so it should be a snap to find things that match your décor and your budget.

3. Keep plenty of different cat toys on hand. You’ll want to have lots of toys that your cat can play with alone, such as furry mice, balls and catnip-laced soft toys. There are also toys that stimulate them mentally – one I love is a wooden box with lots of cut-out holes. You place toys and/or treats inside for your cat to “hunt,” and ultimately fish out of the holes. Equally important are the interactive cat toys that require your company, such as feathers or furry toys that dangle from a pole. My cats love their remote-control mouse that zooms across the floor, and watching them scurry after it makes me laugh, so it’s a win-win toy. Besides alleviating boredom, playing games with your cat can deepen your bond.

4. Cat runs are designed to let your kitty enjoy some fresh air, bird-watching and sunshine from the safety of your backyard. They’re made from a sturdy mesh material, come in lots of different sizes, and are quick and easy to set up. Some models have add-on sections so you can make the run larger or customize it.

5. DVDs for cats let them watch all sorts of wildlife on your television. They’re designed to loop continuously, so you can put it on before you go to work and it will play for them all day long.

6. Spend some quality quiet time with your cat each day. This can include petting and brushing them, or simply sitting with them and talking to them. That last suggestion might sound a little “crazy cat lady” like to you, but I really do believe cats enjoy human companionship, and they like to feel loved just like we do.

7. If you have an “only cat,” consider getting another cat for company, especially if no one is home all day. Cats may be solitary creatures by nature, but that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy having some company in the house. If your cat is still relatively young, a new cat or kitten may encourage their playful side to come out more often.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Keep an Indoor Cat Happy


By Julia Williams

Until recently, I didn’t believe an indoor cat could be happy. I thought that “depriving” a cat of the outdoors would surely make them depressed, lethargic and overweight. I saw how much my own country kitties enjoyed climbing trees, fences and trellises, lounging in the garden, and hunting the ever-prolific gophers on our five acre field.

Then we moved back to the small town of my childhood, and my cats became primarily indoor cats. They were scared at first, and hid in the bedroom closet for a week. I wasn’t going to let them go out for at least a month anyway. When they finally did come out of the closet, my California born-and-raised cats took one sniff of the cool Montana air and must’ve decided then and there that being indoors suited them just fine. And when the snow came, it pretty much sealed the deal.

I worried that they’d hate being inside and cease to be the joyful kitties I knew and loved, but soon realized that my concerns were unwarranted. In fact, to my surprise they now show little interest in going outside, even when offered the opportunity. I did make some adjustments to their indoor environment however, to make it as kitty-hospitable as possible. The key to keeping an indoor cat happy, it seems, is providing them with plenty of stimulation and attention, along with an enriched environment.

So what does that entail, exactly? I keep my indoor kitties stimulated by having lots of different cat toys for them to play with. I bring home a huge bag of Christmas clearance cat toys from my local pet store every January, and rarely spend more than $10. Some of those toys have a holiday theme of course, but the cats don’t know the difference or care, and neither do I.

The important thing to remember about cat toys is that every kitty is different; for example, mine go crazy for furry mice but get bored with balls in a nanosecond. If I buy assortments that have balls in them I give those to my sister, whose cats love to bat balls. Soon enough you’ll discover which types of toys your cat likes best, and you can get more of those.

Another other thing to keep in mind is that you need to rotate your cat toys frequently. Once a week I swap out all the toys with others that I keep in the “cat toy drawer.” In a feline’s world, this is like getting brand new toys to play with every week.

I also buy them toys that require human participation – like mice-on-a-stick, lasers, and cat “fishing” poles – which accomplishes both the stimulation and attention aspect. I also try to give each of my three cats my undivided attention every day, no matter how busy I am. I brought these cats into my family because I wanted to give them love and a good home, and I owe it to them to pay attention to them. Now that they’re primarily indoor cats, they are a bit needier and they crave more attention than they did before, so I adjusted to accommodate them.

Besides playing with them, you can also give your cats attention by having petting sessions, lap time, and grooming time. As with the toys, you need to discover what your cat likes the most, and do more of that. Annabelle loves to be brushed and combed (that’s an understatement), so this is what I do for her time. Mickey loves to sit on my lap, so I let him, even if it means I have to sit two feet away from my keyboard. Rocky prefers plain vanilla petting, so he gets that.

The third aspect to keeping an indoor kitty content is an enriched environment. In other words, you need to provide things besides toys that make them happy. My cats like to lie on the back of the sofa and watch the birds, so I placed a comfy sheepskin kitty mat there to contain the cat hair. You can also buy window perches that accomplish the same thing. You might want to get them a cozy cat bed or cat “donut” to sleep in, too. If your kitty likes to nibble on grass, it’s easy to grow special cat greens for them.

Cat towers and cat condos are a great way to provide your cat with a place to nap, scratch, climb, play and perch, all in one day! It’s also a good idea to provide your indoor cat with various scratching surfaces— I have several styles of corrugated cardboard scratchers, as well as a carpeted scratching post. I’ve learned that when it comes to cats, you really can’t have too many scratching posts!

My cats are probably not as happy indoors as they were outdoors, but they are happy enough. Given that indoor cats live longer and are typically healthier, that is good enough for me.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.