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7 Tips for Making Your Outdoor Cat an Indoor Cat

Even the most hardcore outdoor cat can learn to live happily indoors. These seven tips will help your feline friend make the transition.

 |  Jul 19th 2012  |   8 Contributions


We know cats are much safer inside. Free from the risk of fights, disease, parasites, car accidents, and run-ins with wild animals, indoor cats’ life expectancy is much higher than that of cats allowed to roam. If your cat is used to going outdoors, it might seem impossible to get him used to a life behind the windows. But fear not: With some cat training and adjustments to your home, you can turn your fearless explorer into an indoor cat, and here’s how.

1. Take It Slowly

If possible, take your time getting your cat used to being indoors. Each time your cat comes inside, keep him indoors for a longer time.

2. Start in the Winter

Cats don't enjoy being outdoors when the weather is cold and miserable, and by keeping your kitty in all winter, he may be fully adapted to an inside life by the time the days start getting longer.

3. Think Vertical

Add cat trees and shelves to expand your cat’s territory vertically. This will make him feel like he has more space and give him tools to stay fit and satisfy his urge to look down upon his domain from a high place. Cat trees range from traditional carpet- or sisal-covered models to designer ultra-modern pieces, which would be perfect accessories in the most fashionable homes. If you’re a DIYer, there's lots of information about building your own cat furniture online. 

4. Provide Sunshine and Fresh Air

Windows make the best cat TV in the world, especially if you install a hanging bird feeder outside and windowsill perches inside. Make sure your screens are secure, though, because you don’t want your cat to fall or jump out. You could even build or buy a “catio,” so that your feline friend can enjoy the outdoors from the safety of your balcony or deck.

5. Prevent Furniture Scratching

Provide horizontal and vertical scratching surfaces: corrugated cardboard models work great for horizontal surfaces, and sisal-covered wooden scratchers with a sturdy base are perfect for vertical stretch-and-scratch time. Vertical scratching posts should be at least 3 feet tall; however, if your cat is a large breed like a Bengal or Maine Coon, you might have to get an even taller model.

6. Enrich the Environment

Make sure your cat has lots of toys and fun activities like puzzle boxes or rolling treat balls to keep his mind stimulated. Give him lots of interactive play time in order to keep him active and fit, and be sure to move those toys like real prey in order to get him revved up. Consider clicker training as another form of intellectual stimulation.

7. Keep the Door Closed!

Finally, make sure that everyone in your home knows not to let the cat out. Make sure your kids know to close the door tightly behind them. If your cat lunges for the exit every time the door opens, you can cure that behavior by tossing a treat or toy away from the door before you open it to let yourself out.

With the proper setup and training, even the most hardcore of outside cats will be able to live happily ever after as the prince of his indoor realm.

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