A cat in a flat
What if your cat cannot go outside?
There are many reasons why people (prefer to) keep their cats indoors. A lot of city people simply don’t have access to a garden or balcony, but would still like to have a cat. Others prefer to keep their cat inside for fear that something might happen to him outside, or that he might get lost. And then there are also those scary stories as well about miscreants who steal (expensive) pedigree cats.
Keeping cats indoors seems like a safe choice. However, staying indoors is not completely risk free for cats. Doors slamming closed or tilting windows are notorious indoor dangers for cats. But there is more. Think of poisonous indoor plants or flowers, insects flying in (wasps!), eating inedible things (laces) or catching and eating vermin weakened by illness or poison.
Can you keep a cat indoors all its life?
A cat does not necessarily have to go outside to be happy, but you do have to realise what that means for your cat.
One example: a cat is a hunter. Even a cat that has never caught a mouse in its life has an innate need to hunt. In nature, cats spend most of the day searching and hunting for food. At home, a bowl of kibble is always accessible. In doing that, you are actually depriving your cat of a basic need.
What does not being able to hunt mean for a cat?
Of course there are lap cats that love it when their food is ready every day and they don’t have to do anything for it, but for most cats that can’t hunt it means that:
- They sleep much more out of boredom, up to 22 hours a day. For the record, sleeping that much is not normal behaviour for a cat. In nature cats also sleep a lot, but usually not more than 9 to 10 hours a day.
- Out of sheer boredom, cats can become annoying, ruin your furniture or even develop aggressive behaviour like chasing hands and feet.
- Due to lack of exercise cats might also get fat and being too fat is as unhealthy for cats as it is for humans. It often means that they get ill sooner, are susceptible to diseases, but also that they cannot look after themselves properly because they cannot reach everything and, for example, neglect their fur.
What can you do?
Stimulate your cat’s hunting instincts and do this every day by, for example:
- Hide kibble in the house or throw it around the room for your cat to chase, instead of putting it down in a bowl.
- Play with your cat every day using a toy rod (for tips, you can order the Stadskatten brochure ‘Play’)
- Think about how or where your cat might explore. Can you (safely) give it access to the stairwell, attic or French balcony? Can you bring feathers or twigs from outside? Can you take your cat on a walk? (See How to Leash Walk Your Cat)