You’ve let your cat go outside for years, but now that you know how much safer your cat will be if she stays inside, it’s time for a change. It’s not easy to get a roving kitty accustomed to being an indoor cat. Our tips will get you started.
1. This is the perfect time of year
As winter approaches, your outdoor cat will spend more time inside in order to stay out of the cold. Take advantage of this tendency by simply opening the door fewer times until you just "forget" to let her out. A warm and comfortable indoor bed can be a big draw, especially if your kitty is older.
2. Isolate strays until they go to the vet
If the cat you’re trying to bring inside is a stray or feral, be sure she has a room of her own where she has no contact with your current feline residents. Until the new cat gets tested for FIV and feline leukemia and gets all necessary vaccinations and parasite control, don’t risk transmission of diseases by allowing her to mingle with your other cats.
3. Bring outdoor activities inside
If you feed your cat outside, start feeding her indoors instead. Be sure the cat litter you use has a texture that’s familiar to her — sandy litters or other soft products will work better than pellets or silica balls for a cat who’s used to digging in the dirt to cover her deposits.
4. Make indoors exciting
Your cat will enjoy her indoor life much more if you provide her with plenty of fun activities and environmental enrichment. A variety of cat towers, hiding places, and special shelves will give her the experience of climbing and jumping, not to mention the ability to look down upon all she surveys. Rolling treat or food balls will get her moving and reward her with something tasty.
5. Play the blues away
To keep your cat’s body and mind agile, do a couple of interactive play sessions with her each day. The best time to play is just before mealtimes because you’ll reward her hunting activity with a meal, thereby helping her to live by her natural instincts. She’ll follow the "hunt and kill" game with a nosh, a wash, and a nap.
For more detailed information on bringing an outdoor cat indoors, check out cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett’s advice on how to make the transition. Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine also has some good tips.
Have you succeeded in making an outdoor cat an indoor-only kitty? Please share your experiences and advice in the comments.