My Indoor Cat

Is it cruel to keep cats indoors?

Is it cruel to keep cats indoors?

This was a burning question for me when considering getting a rescue cat as I lived in an apartment and previously I’d always allowed my cats the freedom to roam outdoors.  I talked at length to vets asking is it cruel to keep cats indoors. I also did a lot of research about how to keep cats indoors.  Here’s what I learned.  

Benefits of keeping your cat indoors

  • Keeping your cat indoors increases your interaction with them and it is certainly my experience that I have developed a much stronger bond with them which has been an unexpected positive for both of us.
    • Keeping cats indoors helps keep them safe from cat-fight-related injuries, accidents and diseases such as the Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). FIV is a highly contagious and incurable disease that is passed from cat to cat and can be prevented by keeping your cat inside.
  • Outdoor cats are also at risk of getting caught by wildlife and other predators including, sadly, humans. 
  • When cats are outside, they can be poisoned, trapped, shot, or even drowned by annoyed neighbors. 
  • Another benefit of having house cats is that they have a longer life span i.e., 12-15 years as compared to outdoor cats which on average sometimes only live for 2-5 years due to some of the things mentioned above.
  • Indoor cats, when properly cared for, have a happier life and suffer much less stress than outdoor cats.

How to keep indoor cats happy?

However, it is very important that you provide your cat with an environment that gives them stimulation and adequate exercise. Here are some tips to make your home feline-friendly and prevent your cat from getting bored:

Provide climbing space

Cats love vertical climbing, this was one of the first things my vet told me. They love to be able to climb up high and then view the scene from above. Cat trees are perfect for this and I purchased the tallest one I could find and my cats love surveying their environment from the top perches.

Are indoor cats happy
Are cats happy indoors

Provide cat toys

Good quality cat toys will help to keep your cat amused and entertained. You can source a variety of toys for your cat either at your local pet store or online. It is also important to change the toys and rotate them on a regular basis as this keeps them interested. However, make sure the toys are safe for the cat to avoid a fatal intestinal obstruction that can be caused by swallowing a small-sized toy or object.

Provide Playtime

Give your cat a lot of attention and playtime. Many people think that cats can be aloof but my experience with my house cat has been that they have wanted to be more interactive with me. By scheduling playtime your cats know when to play and when to leave you alone. You can play hide and seek, chasing, and fetching a toy. It is possible to teach your cat to fetch just like a dog! An interactive play session with your cat provides them intellectual stimulation and aerobic activity.

Are house cats happy
Is it cruel to keep a cat indoors at night

Provide a sunny spot

Cats love sunbathing so providing them sunny spots near a window or a catio can help them enjoy the sunshine.

Multiple cat household

It is less likely for your indoor cat to get bored if she has another feline companion in the house. They are social animals and can get along really well when they are from the same litter or introduced correctly. Our cats were adopted from the same rescue home just under a year apart and with a carefully orchestrated introduction they get on really well and I love seeing them chasing each other and playing together around our apartment.

Is it cruel to keep a cat inside
Is it cruel to keep your cat indoors

Take your cat for a walk

Even if your cat lives indoors, it is not necessary to keep them indoors all the time. You can give them access to the outside. Catios or cat enclosures are a great way for your cat to be safe outside. Another way is for you to buy a harness and lead and take your cat for a walk. This is something that one of my cats loves to do. Walking a cat, in my experience, is a completely different experience to walking a dog, for starters there is no poop to clear up. Both catios and taking your cat for a walk on a regular basis provides them with access to the outdoors in a safe way and provides them stimulation and an opportunity for activity.

In my humble opinion and from my own personal experience, I do not think it is cruel to keep a cat indoors, in fact I feel that my cats are happier and healthier and far more sociable than previous cats I’ve had that were free to roam outdoors.  Having said that you must provide your house cats with the right care and environment for them thrive.

Do you have an indoor cat?  What has your experience been?  

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