Outside access is not a feline happiness requirement, and indoor cats can live happy, safe, and engaging lives, where they do not encounter outdoor dangers. Ensure your favorite feline stays healthy and happy by creating a cat-friendly indoor environment that encourages their natural instincts, provides adequate exercise, and keeps them mentally engaged. To help keep your indoor cat happy, ready our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Waller team’s tips. 

#1: Let your cat hunt

Hunting prey is a natural feline instinct. Rather than allowing your cat outside to stalk unsuspecting rodents, provide your furry feline with engaging toys that encourage them to release their inner lion in the safety of their home. To mimic a hunting situation, tempt your cat with feathered wand toys or small attachments, always ensuring your feline friend captures  their prey. Larger, soft toys can encourage your cat to rake and pounce. Offer your furry feline the opportunity to satisfy this important instinct by providing them with various toys, and reward your cat when they capture their prey. 

#2: Take your cat for a walk

You may be able to offer your indoor cat the best of both worlds by training them to walk on a leash wearing a harness. Keep in mind that feline leash training takes time and patience, and many cats are unwilling to learn. Look for a secure harness that wraps around your cat’s body and has a hook to attach a leash. Allow your cat an opportunity to investigate the harness and leash for a few days on their terms by leaving these implements where your furry friend frequents. Next, let your cat wear the harness around the house to get used to being dressed in the item. 

Try taking a few walks inside the house to gauge your feline friend’s interest. Keep these sessions short, and never force your cat to walk if they are unwilling. If your cat is receptive, take a quick trip outside. Keep in mind your cat will at some point likely perform the infamous cat flop—going limp and refusing to move. When this happens, be patient and don’t force them to walk until they appear ready. Walking your cat is a great way for both of you to get some exercise and explore the outdoors, but if your cat is unwilling to be leashed, satisfy their exercise needs indoors. 

#3: Encourage your cat to scratch appropriately

Scratching is essential to a cat’s mental and physical wellbeing and has many purposes, including maintaining their nails, marking their territory, stretching, and providing stress relief. Rather than sacrificing your furniture to support your cat’s scratching habits, encourage appropriate scratching by placing multiple scratching posts, which vary in size, shape, and texture, around the house. To choose the right scratching post for your cat, consider the following factors:

  • Position — Provide vertical and horizontal scratching posts that allow your cat to stretch various muscles. For your cat’s maximum stretching benefit, provide scratching posts that are tall enough for them to fully stretch. 
  • Material — Most cats prefer scratching posts covered in rough material, such as sisal, which is ideal for nail maintenance. Purchase scratching posts in various textures, such as wood, rough fabric, or cardboard, to prevent boredom, keeping your cat entertained.
  • Location — Cats often scratch around sleeping areas and room entrances to claim their territory by leaving pheromone-laden scent markers. Encourage your cat to use their scratching posts—not the couch—by strategically placing them near these often-frequented areas. 

#4: Maintain your cat’s litter box

Many owners overlook the importance of their cat’s litter box. Cats can be fussy, and if their litter box setup isn’t to their liking, they may decide to eliminate elsewhere. When choosing and setting up your cat’s litter box, consider these factors: 

  • Size — Ensure your cat’s litter box is large enough for them to easily move around. A good rule of thumb is choosing a litter box that is as long as your cat from their nose to the tip of their outstretched tail, and as wide as your cat from their nose to their tail base.
  • Box — Most cats prefer litter boxes that have no cover, but—to determine which they prefer—you can offer your cat a  variety. 
  • Litter — Most cats prefer unscented, soft, fine-grained, clumping litter. Remember to keep the litter depth at only one to two inches.
  • Cleanliness — To ensure the box meets your cat’s hygiene standards, scoop their litter box at least once per day, and thoroughly clean and change the litter once per week.
  • Location — Ensure your cat’s litter box is in an easily accessible, low-traffic area away from noisy appliances. If your home has multiple levels, place litter boxes on each level, to give your cat easy access.

#5: Create climbing places for your cat

Cats are natural climbers, and they need access to in-home areas where they can get up high and securely view their surroundings. Provide your indoor cat with vertical climbing opportunities by offering them the following: 

  • Shelves — Floating shelves are a convenient place from which your cat can observe their world. Clear some shelf space for your feline friend, and remember to provide a nonslip surface, as many shelves are extremely slippery. 
  • Cat towers — Tall towers with platforms and enclosures for resting offer your cat a place to climb and relax. 
  • Window perch — Install a window perch in a sunny spot that offers a bird-feeder view, and your cat will be entertained for hours. 

Follow these simple tips to help keep your cat safe and happy indoors. Ensure your cat stays healthy by scheduling their annual wellness exam with our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Waller team.