How to Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy
Guest post by Daniela Caride
Cats should live inside and not be allowed outdoors at any time. As Dr. Eric Barchas addressed recently, no pet should go outside unattended. Cats may be exposed to a variety of risks that may harm them, and even you.
That’s why indoor cats live far longer than cats who go outdoors. The average life expectancy for an indoor cat is 12 to 15 years vs. 4 to 5 years for an outdoor cat, according to PetPlace.
If you are still not convinced, here are six reasons why you should keep your cats indoors:
1. Accidents – Your cat may be struck by a vehicle or get caught sleeping under a car hood when the engine gets turned on, killing or harming him seriously.
2. Life-threatening situations – Your cat is a potential target for dogs, wild animals and even animal abusers.
3. Disease – Your cat may catch serious diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) if involved in a cat fight. He can also bring home parasites, such as fleas and ticks, and even become infected with ringworm, a fungus also transmissible to humans.
4. Poisoning – Your cat may be exposed to potential hazards from poisons, such as antifreeze, lawn fertilizers, weed killers and poisonous toxic plants. Cocoa mulch, widely used in gardens, for instance, can be fatal to cats.
5. Stealing and animal control – Your cat can be stolen or picked up by animal control authorities. He might end up in a shelter, where he may be adopted out to another family or euthanized.
6. Environmental impact – Your cat may harm the environment by hunting native birds. In many communities, birds are endangered because of the outdoors feline population.
The pros of keeping your cats indoors far outnumber the cons. But many people still ask if cats can be happy if only living inside. The answer is yes.
You can avoid boredom and discomfort by providing your cat a healthy environment combined with activities that stimulate him physically and mentally.
Here are four tips:
- Provide scratching posts to satisfy his needs to scratch and stretch.
- Come up with opportunities for your cat to forage for food, offering him interactive toys that release food when handled.
- Play with your cat for at least 15 minutes daily, alternating toys that will stimulate his hunting instincts.
- Provide a litter box per cat plus one (if you have three cats, have four litter boxes), so your cat has plenty of opportunities to evacuate in the places you want, not in the ones he chooses.
If you provide your cat with the right stimuli, you will make him happy, prolong his life and keep his and your health costs down. Who wouldn’t like to do this for such a great companion?
Daniela Caride is the publisher of The Daily Tail (www.TheDailyTail.com), a participatory blog about pets with stories, tips, and reviews. She lives with three cats, Crosby, Gaijin and Phoenix, three dogs, Frieda, Geppetto and Lola, and her husband, Martin, in Cambridge, MA.