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Is Your Cat an "Indoor" Cat?

Updated on December 16, 2011
Mollie is 11 years old and is available for adoption through the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.
Mollie is 11 years old and is available for adoption through the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland. | Source

Homemade Cat Toys

What you'll need:

  • baby sock
  • paper
  • catnip
  • yarn

Crumple up a small piece of paper and stuff it into the baby sock. Add a sprinkle of cat nip, then use a small piece of yarn to close the opening. Be sure to tie tightly by using a double knot.

What you'll need:

  • pipe cleaners
  • large jingle bells*
  • large unfinished wooden or plastic beads*

String a few beads and/or jingle bells on to pipe cleaner. Twist and turn the pipe cleaner, making crazy shapes! Be creative!

*Use extra-large sized beads & bells so kitty won't choke if they come off!

Having an “indoor” domestic cat makes a lot of sense, but some people still are not true believers and feel cats should be free to roam. I’m hoping to help nonbelievers move into a more twenty-first century way of thinking.

Let’s start with the most important fact of all; an outdoor cat’s average lifespan is 4-6 years of age, while an indoor cat can live an average of 14-18 years. That alone should be enough for a cat lover to keep their furry feline indoors.

Not only is it somewhat disgusting when your very proud outdoor cat leaves fuzzy and feathery surprises on your doorstep, but by having contact with wild animals, an outdoor cat has a much higher exposure to infectious diseases. If a cat does get sick then, hopefully, their owner will take them to a vet. The truth is the real danger for outdoor cats is the wild animals and automobiles.

Working in the animal shelter for many years, I can tell you that day after day, people will bring in litters of kittens telling us they’ve been abandoned by their mother. “Abandoned? Really?” “Don’t you mean the mother didn’t come home because she was probably killed by a coyote or run over by a car?” Those are the things that run through my mind, though I never actually say that to these folks, because sometimes I think they really don’t know they’re putting their cat in harm’s way. On the other side of the coin, I see city workers bringing in dead cats to put in the shelter’s freezer for cremation. Where did these bodies come from? They were found on the road, hit by vehicles. It’s all very sad and one can’t help wonder how much suffering these poor little creatures endured before they actually died.

But isn’t sunshine, fresh air, and enrichment important for cats? Sure it is and there are safe ways you can make sure your cat gets all of those things.

There are many companies who now make outdoor cat enclosures. These enclosures come in all shapes and sizes and are perfect for small and large yards; and even for terraces if space is limited. They keep your cat safe while they enjoy the fresh air. Here in Maine, we use But since the invention of these wonderful structures, companies have popped up all over the U.S. such as and

Did you know cats can be taught to walk on a leash? Cat harnesses can be purchased at pet supply stores. This will, obviously, be a strange site for many to see, but why not start a new trend in your town? If you decide to give this a whirl, be aware of your surroundings and watch for stray dogs that are out on their own adventure. Adult cats may have a more difficult time getting use to such a way of walking, but it’s worth a try.

If you live in a large city why not bring some outdoor fun into your apartment. Plant some grass seed in a small litter box or similar container. Once it grows, place it on the floor and let your cat explore. What a nice little treat this would be. Another fun idea is to place a bird feeder on the outside of a window your cat frequently looks out. For comfort, a padded shelf or perch can be attached to your windowsill for ease in watching the birds and for sunbathing.

A must have for all cat homes is a cat tree. Cat trees comes in varying sizes/styles and can be used for climbing to get their exercise or just for taking nice naps at a higher level than the floor. Cat trees are also handy to use as scratching posts. It’s in a cat’s nature to scratch, so if you can’t beat them, join them.

Cats love toys and they love to play with their people. Take time to play with your cat, try a variety of toys, and keep rotating the toys to keep them more interesting to your cat. Cat toys can be home made as well. If you decide to make some toys for your cat, why not make a few extra and donate them to your local shelter for the homeless cats to enjoy. This is also a fun project to involve the kids.

Think about ways you can make your cat's life enriching while keeping him safe indoors.

Outdoor cat enclosure
Outdoor cat enclosure | Source


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    • profile image

      The Writers Dog 5 years ago

      I am a firm believer in indoor cats - always have been, always will be.

    • pattyworld1 profile image

      pattyworld1 6 years ago from Maine

      It is so sad what some people will do to animals. When cats are adopted from the shelters in this area, it is always highly recommended that they keep their newly adopted family members indoors. And, yes, the litter box is definitely a challenge to get use to.

    • profile image

      homepetz 6 years ago

      We were encouraged by the RSPCA to raise our cat as an indoor cat in Australia. A lot of people are anti-cats (some try to deliberately run them over), plus hazards such as dogs, poisonous wildlife, cars. Worse thing about inside cat is litter box.

    • pattyworld1 profile image

      pattyworld1 6 years ago from Maine

      Thanks for commenting. I think its important for people to read positive experiences from indoor cat families.

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 6 years ago from The Garden State

      Our current kitty turned 13 this year and has been an "indoor" cat for her entire life. I don't think she's "missing" anything by not going outside because there are plenty of things in the house for her to see, do, play with, climb in and out of, and sleep on. Occasionally if we open a window she'll sit on the windowsill to enjoy the fresh air and the sights but shows no signs of wanting to get out there and check anything out up close.