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The Challenges of Living with an Indoor Cat, and How to Make it Work


Welcome!

In this post, we outline some of the common challenges faced when living with an indoor cat, and some simple ways to make it work.

In preparing to write this post I was thinking back to when my cat, Saphi, first came to live with me. She arrived as a rescue cat with an unknown history, meaning I had no idea whether she had been a street cat, or lived indoors, outdoors, or both.

My decision was to raise her as an indoor cat. This was for a number of reasons including the rules of the building I was living in – ‘no roaming cats’, and my concern for her safety (around the traffic), and the safety of local wildlife.

She was my first solely indoor cat. We both had some learning and adjusting to do. Keep reading for more about that later on.

There is a lot of information available on this topic and many people will say – you can have an indoor cat, and keep them happy with toys and scratching posts. Yet this is only part of the story.

Here we aim to always have honest conversations about the challenges, as well as the potential solutions, so that you can make informed decisions about what will work for your situation.

We hope that the following research-backed information, combined with first-hand experience with our own cats, can answer some of your questions.

First, let’s dive into some of the challenges of indoor-cat-living.

1. Cat Alarm Clocks – Cats waking up the household at the crack of dawn

Challenge:

Cats are primarily nocturnal (most active at night) or crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk). This might explain those early morning antics that wake up the house. This is especially true for kittens and younger cats.

Change:

Giving your indoor cat quality playtime before bed, making sure they have access to some food, and keeping a routine around feeding times can all help to reduce night-time activity.

2. Cat Attack – Aggressive behaviour – Play aggression such as biting and scratching due to an accumulation of energy

Challenge:

Indoor cats don’t get access to the same level of activity as outdoor cats (running and climbing fences, trees, etc.). And cats with built-up energy can turn this into aggressive play (watch out for those fingers!).

Change:

Provide your cat with a range of outlets for their energy, including play toys such as Cat Fishy, which can be filled with catnip to make it enticing and enjoyable for your cat to let out some of that extra energy.

3. Bored Cats – Low interaction and boredom behaviours due to a lack of stimulation or variety in their day

Challenge: 

Although cats seem to be independent and sleep more when compared to dogs, they are still social beings who need company and stimulation. Just like us, cats can experience boredom without access to things to do. Indoor cats especially may be alone for long periods of time, and only have what they can find in your house to entertain them.

Change:

Make sure that they have access to climbing and scratching towers, as well as a range of toys. AND make sure that your cat has access to you – spend time playing and interacting with your cat. Even 15 minutes twice a day will make a difference.

You can find some enticing, quality toy options here.

If you feel like making something fun for your furry kid yourself, take a look at this DIY Cactus Shaped Cat Scratcher created by Timi Smith.


Click on the photo to open the instructions
  1. In-Fighting – Aggression between cats in multiple cat households

Challenge:

Multi-cat households are on the rise. For indoor cats this often means living with unrelated cats, and sharing resources, in limited space. And this can lead to fights and behavioural issues.

Change:

Providing each cat with a litter tray and food bowl and offering space and privacy can help. Perches and towers provide safe places to watch from above, and access to quiet places to rest without ambush is also helpful.

We will talk about his topic in more detail in one of our next blog posts.

  1. Shy Cats – Indoor cats might be scared of your visitors

Challenge:

Indoor cats, who are home alone a lot, may have less opportunity for socialisation. This can mean they may be timid and scared of visitors to your home.

Change:

Providing access to high perches, and socialising your cat slowly (and from a young age where possible) can support them to feel more comfortable around visitors.

  1. Your Furniture is My Scratching Palace – Scratching your furniture instead of their scratching post

Challenge:

Cats may start scratching household furniture for a number of reasons – seeking attention, experiencing anxiety, or lacking good quality cat furniture to use instead of your couch.

Change:

Providing access to good quality, sturdy cat furniture such as a Tok Tok Cat Tower or The Cat Ladder gets your cat used to this being the place they use for scratching.

We hope this blog has provided some useful information about life with an indoor cat. It can have challenges and it can also be a lot of fun for you both.

Saphi and I had our challenges, and found ways to make it work. She happens to love access to many sunny window sills, her cat tower with scratching posts and her catnip mouse, her ribbon which she chases me around for, and a great big dose of personal space during nap time and meal time. She has also decided she does NOT like to share her space, so she remains an only-cat.

Written by Jasmin Harrison | Word Wizardry


If you would like to share your experience, have comments or suggestions for us, we will be pleased to hear from you.

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