How to Transition an Outside Cat to Indoor Life
Even though we know it’s safer for cats to live indoors, it’s not always an easy task to bring them inside. Part of the difficulty is that we tend to put human emotions on our feline friends. We imagine them sitting next to a rainy window, longingly pining for the great outdoors.
In reality, indoor cats can live a rich and fulfilling life. Even cats who have previously lived outside can adapt surprisingly quickly. With a little patience and creativity, your cat can thrive in the safety of your home.
Here are our top tips for easing that transition.
Go at Your Cat’s Pace
There is no one-size-fits-all program for bringing a cat indoors. For example, the approach for a feral cat who has never been indoors will differ from the one applied to an indoor/outdoor cat.
Cats unfamiliar with indoor life will require extra training. Fortunately, they are quick learners. Even a cat who has never used a litter box will usually figure out its purpose with little difficulty. To speed up this process, try containing the cat to a smaller space where the litter box is located.
Enrich the Environment
Thoughtfully preparing your home is the number one thing you can do to ease your cat into the new lifestyle. Providing stimulation and creature comforts will ensure your cat remains happily preoccupied.
Consider including the following items:
- Scratching posts – To avoid damage to your furniture, offer your cat enticing alternatives. If a traditional scratching post doesn’t interest them, don’t give up. Try different shapes and materials, such as cardboard, sisal, paper tape, and carpet. You can even place a scratching pad over the top of a couch or other area your cat likes to attack.
- Toys – Aim for variety when shopping for toys. Self-propelling toys are great for satisfying a cat’s instinctive urge to hunt and stalk. For some cats, a simple ball of yarn or a cardboard box will be all they need for the day.
- Cat grass – Many cats love to dig into a tray of grass. Not all grass is safe for them to consume, so it’s best to purchase grass specifically developed for felines.
Window perches – Installing a window perch provides multiple benefits. Cats love a tall vantage point to watch the world go by, particularly when they can also observe the outdoors. You can also place a standing perch next to the window for the same effect.
Supervise Outdoor Time
If you would like to provide your cat with some fresh air, there are safe ways to accomplish that. Just like with dogs, cats can go for leashed walks. Walking with a collar is dangerous for cats, so use a harness instead.
For cats intolerant of harnesses, you can purchase or build an outdoor enclosure. Keep an eye on your cat during this time, as they may try to escape or catch the interest of other animals.
Even if it takes some trial and error to bring your cat indoors, the resulting peace of mind will make the process worthwhile.