Can I Keep My Indoor/Outdoor Cat Inside Only?

Crate Training Cat

By Jennifer Sellers, Petfinder contributor

Just as modern dogs are far removed from their wolf roots, cats have also evolved away from their safari-prowling ancestors. They're now domesticated animals perfectly capable of thriving in safe, secure environments. Your instincts as a pet parent have likely told you that, and every evening when you call your cat in for the night, you probably have a momentary twinge of worry: "Where is he? What if something happened to him?"

The Benefits of Having Your Cat Indoors Full Time

Once you ensure your kitty is safe inside your home all night and day, you will start to feel more secure. Your cat will likely benefit from the change, too. Cats who stay indoors have longer lifespans than those who are left to roam outdoors. In her article, Should You Let Your Cat Go Outdoors? Jacque Lynn Shultz from the ASPCA notes that indoor-only cats live an average of 10-12 years, while outdoor-only cats survive only an average of 2 years. This is because outdoor cats are more prone to being hit by a car; attacked by other animals; mistreated by humans; picking up parasites like fleas, ticks and worms; and contracting dangerous diseases like feline leukemia (FELV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) and upper respiratory infections.

So, for the health and safety of your cat, we recommend that you keep him inside all the time. Here are some strategies for making the transition as seamless as possible:

  • Be aware of where your cat is when you're coming in and out of the house so that she doesn't dart out an open door.
  • If your cat has already spent some time indoors, he is likely litter box trained and should easily adapt to using the litter box fulltime. If however, you have any problems with this, place his litter box near the door he used to enter and exit the house and another one where he is soiling. As he starts using that litter box, gradually move it to its permanent location.
  • Initially cover the soil of houseplants with aluminum foil or marbles so that your cat will not try to use the bathroom in those areas.
  • Give him things to do so that he's not bored inside. You can add window perches, an indoor catnip garden, kitty condo and toys. You should also rotate his toys every few weeks to keep him interested. 
  • Provide scratching posts and cardboard scratching boards to keep your cat from scratching furniture. (Learn more about getting your cat to use a scratching post.)
  • If you've already considered bringing another pet into your home, doing so now may be a comfort to your cat and make his days busier. Of course, introducing a new pet into a household with an existing cat can be a delicate matter, so be sure to give it a lot of thought and consideration beforehand. (Learn more about why to adopt a second cat and get tips for introducing cats.)
  • Allow your cat time outdoors only if he's on a leash or in an enclosed area.
  • Make time each day to play with your cat and give him special attention.
  • Give your cat a place of his own inside the house. This should include soft bedding that is frequently cleaned.
  • Don't neglect flea and tick prevention. Just because your kitty is now an indoor cat, he'll still need to be protected from parasites and receive regular preventive care. Check with your vet to see what is recommended for your cat’s specific lifestyle.
  • Don't expect your cat to adapt to his new lifestyle right away. It might take a few weeks for progress to occur.

So, yes, you can keep your indoor/outdoor cat inside only. It may take a little time and patience to help him through the transition, but it's one of the best things you can do for your cat and yourself!


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