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Indoor cat looking out of window

What will your cat be?

All About House Cats

Having an indoor cat is growing in popularity because it’s thought to be much safer as it keeps them away from the risks of the outdoor world. If you’re thinking about keeping cats indoors, read this guide to find out all you need to know.

Whether you keep your cat inside all the time, or with a mix of indoor-outdoor living, it remains important to ensure they have a registered microchip, and wear a collar with tags. It is also essential that your cat is desexed – both for your cat’s own well-being and to prevent unwanted litters of kittens should they ever escape your property.

Only you can decide what’s best for your cat and your circumstances. With time, patience and a bit of imagination, many cats can adapt surprisingly well and live fun, full happy lives – while you enjoy the peace of mind of knowing they are safe.

There are many reasons behind the growing number of indoor cats, but the general consensus is that owners are keeping cats indoors to ensure they’re safe. This may be due to the fact they live in a busy town with lots of road traffic or because they’re in an area with neighbouring cats who don’t get along.

If you’ve recently got a new kitten or cat, you may be wondering what’s best for your newest family member, keep reading to find out more.

How do I know if my cat wants to be indoors or outdoors?

It’s important to take your cat’s opinion into consideration, and they’re usually quite good at telling you if they want to be an outdoor or indoor cat. Older cats or those with a disability or medical problem will often find the safety of indoors and the comforts that go with it much more preferable. Additionally, there are some cats which are genuinely quite frightened of outside, which may be due to aggressive territorial cats in your neighbourhood or loud sounds.

Outdoor cats on the other hand, will probably consistently beg you to go outside – usually by almost constant meowing – and may try and bolt every time they see the door open a crack.

Once you make the choice to let them outdoors or keep them as a house cat, it’s important that you stick with it. Cats that have been previously allowed to roam tend not to adapt very well to indoor life, and may develop certain behavioural problems.

4 Benefits of indoor cats

If you’re leaning toward the house cat lifestyle, there are numerous benefits. A few ones to note are:

  1. Keep them away from outside dangers. This is the biggest reason why owners are choosing to keep cats indoors. The great outdoors poses an abundance of risks for our cats including being hit by cars and eating potential hazards they find, such as garden fertilisers or poisonous plants.
  2. Protect the local wildlife. If you’ve ever lived with a cat that goes outside, you’ll probably be no stranger to the delivery of a dead bird or mouse. Indoor cats won’t be able to hunt these creatures, but you’ll need to provide alternative ways to exercise your cat’s hunting instincts and keep them entertained.
  3. Prevent territory wars. With the increase in housing density and many people living in close proximity, cats are being forced to share their territory with other cats. As territorial creatures, this doesn’t bode well for our felines and there may be instances of cats fighting. Keeping cats indoors can prevent these fights and help your cat feel safer by providing them with their own secluded territory.
  4. Reduce injuries and exposure. Another key benefit is that due to the reduced risk of fighting with other cats, they’ll also have a reduced risk of being injured or coming into contact with certain illnesses or disease that are passed between cats such as FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). But even if you have a house cat, you’ll still need to ensure their cat vaccinations are kept up to date.

Potential risks of keeping cats indoors

Although there are numerous benefits to keeping cats indoors, there are also a few risks you need to consider before making your choice:

  • Cats may develop behavioural problems and become stressed as for some, inside life is far too boring and they’re not given the opportunity to escape from stressors in the home.
  • House cats have less opportunities for exercise and will seldom exercise themselves, which could lead to them becoming overweight.
  • While your cat will be kept safe from toxic substances outside, there are plenty of things which are toxic to cats in your home, such as household cleaners and medications.
  • There are many house plants which are toxic to cats, including common ones like lilies, aloe vera and daffodils – make sure you do plenty of research and remove any plants or flowers that could harm your cat.
  • As you’ll become your indoor cat’s source of entertainment and exercise, they may become overly dependent on you and won’t like being left alone for too long.
  • If you have more than one cat in the home which are both kept inside this may cause tension and fighting.
  • Another reason you might choose to keep your cat at home is to prevent them from causing harm to other animals, in particular, native wildlife. Keeping your cat at home is a foolproof way to ensure they do not pose a threat to New Zealand’s sensitive biodiversity.

Keeping indoor cats happy

If you’ve made the decision to have a house cat, you’ll need to make certain preparations in your home to keep them safe and happy.

Make sure you have a litter tray

You’ll need to ensure you have an appropriately sized litter tray for your indoor cat. Put this in a quiet place where they feel safe and always ensure that it’s kept clean, as cats may avoid using a dirty tray. You may also need to try a few types of cat litter to ensure you’re using one that your kitten likes. In a multi cat household ensure that you have one litter tray for each cat in different areas plus one extra to prevent resource guarding.

Give them space to explore

As the average home isn’t as big as the great outdoors, you’ll need to ensure they have plenty of space to explore. Make sure they have access to several rooms and provide high up perches to extend their territory.

Plenty of resting places

As your cat spends around 70% of their life sleeping, you’ll need to give them plenty of resting places. They tend to prefer beds with sides to keep them protected when they’re at their most vulnerable, so purchase igloo bed and if you can, place it up off the ground too.

Give them opportunities to scratch

Good quality scratching posts are essential for all cats, and even more so if you have a house cat. Cats use scratching to mark their territory, stretch their muscles and sharpen their claws – all of which are natural behaviours – and if you don’t provide scratching posts, they may turn to your furniture instead!

Exercise their mind and body

As your cat won’t be able to express their natural hunting instincts or spend time outside playing, you’ll need to be their source of exercise. Set time aside each day to encourage active play with your cat and engage their hunting instincts – toys with feathers are best for this. Cat and kitten play is incredibly important for them as it helps to keep your feline mentally stimulated and releases endorphins.

Give them a room with a view

When keeping cats indoors, they’re generally much happier if they can watch on what’s going on outside. Get them a cat tree to allow them to hop up onto higher windowsills, or if you have a narrow windowsill you can purchase a perch so they can easily see out. Always ensure the windows are closed or get a safety net to prevent your cat accidentally falling out – this is especially important for second storey windows or if you live in an apartment.

Create an indoor cat garden

Just because you have a house cat, it doesn’t mean that they have to miss out on all the joys of outside. Create a garden inside your home and plant a variety of cat-friendly plants such as: catnip, cat grass and valerian. As they love to interact with these types of plants, plant them in large planters and trays so they can take full advantage of their indoor cat garden.

All About Outdoor Cats

Outdoor cat at front door looking up

Trying to decide whether your new cat or kitten is going to live outdoors or not is a difficult choice. If you’re on the fence and not sure which is best, read this guide to find out all you need to know.

If you live in a quiet, rural location, it could be a great idea to let your kitty roam free, but of course there are situations where your cat would be safer inside, such as if you live in a busy city. If you’re on the fence about whether to let your new cat explore the wider world, keep reading to discover the potential benefits and risks for outdoor cats.

How do cats choose if they want to be outdoor or indoor?

All cats have their own personal preferences and personalities, so sometimes they may just make the indoor/outdoor choice for you. Generally, it’s quite easy to tell as more timid or older cats will likely prefer the comfort of the indoors, so they’ll be less keen to bolt out the door every time it’s open.

Whereas, if your cat is bursting with excitement, clawing at any slightly open door or window, it’s probably because they want to be an outdoor cat. As an owner, it’s important that once you’ve made the choice, you stay consistent throughout the rest of their lives, as they may find it difficult to adjust as they get older.

5 Benefits of outdoor cats

There are so many benefits to letting your cat explore the wider world, a few of the most key ones are as follows:

  1. Plenty of exercise An outdoor cat is far less likely to become overweight, which is due to the fact that the great outdoors just has so much to do! When out and about, cats are more likely to spend their time climbing, running and exploring which is all excellent for their physical health.
  2. Helps their mental health The great outdoors is also proven to be better for your feline’s mental health. This is largely due to the vast variety of smells, sights and sounds to stimulate their senses. Additionally, it helps to provide an escape from any potential stresses in your home.
  3. Express their natural behaviours One of the key benefits to letting a cat outside is that it provides an outlet for their natural behaviours. They’ll get to scratch on trees (potentially saving your sofa), patrol their territory and put their hunting instincts to use, which is especially great if you’re looking to control the rodent population in rural areas.
  4. One big litter box This one can often be a deciding factor for owners that don’t want to spend all their time cleaning out a litter tray. Many outdoor cats will simply do their business outside. However, there are some cats that will prefer the comfort of a litter tray so will come inside to go to the toilet anyway, and others may protest to going outside when it rains. It’s a good idea to keep a litter tray in your home just in case.
  5. Unlimited entertainment If you find yourself spending a lot of time away from home due to work commitments, then an outdoor life may be best for your cat. Typically, indoor cats require much more entertainment and attention from their owners compared to outdoor cats who have plenty of stimulation outside.

Potential risks for an outdoor cat

As always, when there are benefits, there are also risks. A few of the risks for outdoor cats you should be aware of are:

  • Injuries from cars – this particular risk is increased for kittens under the age of one, but once they get past this age, they’re more likely to be aware of the dangers.
  • Sleeping on top of tyres or under car bonnets – this is quite common with cats during the colder months, especially if the car’s recently been on and is still warm.
  • They may get lost – if your cat’s not particularly aware of their area they may end up going too far and getting lost.
  • More likely to encounter toxic substances – people often use chemicals in their gardens such as slug pellets, anti-freeze, rodent poisons or have toxic plants.
  • Increased risk of fighting – this is more of a problem in built up areas as each individual cat’s territory overlaps with another.
  • Increased risk of coming into contact of disease, ticks, fleas or worms – largely due to increased exposure to other cats and the outdoor environment.

Keeping your outdoor cat safe

As a pet owner, it’s only natural that you want to ensure that they’re kept as safe as possible when outdoors enjoying all the sights and smells. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make sure they’re living their best possible life and staying safe.

Keep up to date with vaccinations, flea and worming treatment

Because of the fact they’re more likely to come into contact with other cats, keeping their vaccinations up to date is more important than ever. Additionally, you should also ensure that you’re regularly administering flea and worming treatment to ensure that they’re kept happy and healthy.

Install a cat flap

If there’s no-one home during the day to let your cat back in if they feel threatened by something outside, installing a cat flap is essential. If you’re concerned that other cats in your neighbourhood will use it, you can get ones that are programmed to only respond and open for your cat’s microchip or collar.

Get your cat microchipped

For outdoor cats it’s vital to get them microchipped. If your kitty ever wanders too far from your home or happens to get stuck in someone’s garage or shed, a microchip will greatly increase your chances of being reunited with your cat. Then anyone who finds your cat just needs to take them to the vet where they can scan the chip to get your contact details.

Safety collar and tag

As well as your cat’s microchip, you should also get them a safety collar and tag for outdoor cats. Always ensure that you get them a break-free collar so that if they ever get stuck on something – which can happen when they’re climbing and exploring – it’ll simply undo and let your cat free. Reflective collars are good too as these will increase their visibility if they’re ever outside at night. If you have a tag with your contact details it may also help you to be reunited with your kitty much sooner.

Get your cat neutered

It’s generally a good idea to get your cat neutered if they’re going to be outside. If they’re un-neutered it increases the risk of unwanted pregnancy and they’re more likely to travel further from home as they’ll be searching for a potential mate. Additionally, unneutered males are known to be much more territorial and have issues with marking and spraying, as well as getting into fights with other cats.

Grow cat-friendly plants

If you have cat-friendly plants in your garden for them to enjoy, it’s much less likely that they’ll try to eat toxic or poisonous ones. Grow plants such as catnip, catmint, lavender and cat grass and always ensure that the products you use on any of your plants are non-toxic and organic.

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