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Enriching Indoor Cats

Nov 14, 2016 | Dewdney Animal Hospital

Having a pet cat can be one of the most enriching experiences on the planet. To have such a wild and instinctual presence in your house is fascinating and hilarious (as proven by the internet’s obsession with cat videos!)

Many, if not all, behavioural problems can be solved by properly enriching a cat’s indoor space. Contrary to popular belief, cats do not need to roam outdoors to be satisfied. It is actually far safer to keep them inside when not supervised. It is our duty as cat owners to create a ‘Catified’ environment to delight their natural instincts. We have a few ideas for you that we think you’ll love!


Here’s why we think it’s best to keep your cat indoors except when supervised:

1.) Cats are severely damaging to the native wildlife. They kill over 200 million birds per year in Canada. This is the LEADING cause of death for birds. This figure comes from a study published by Environment Canada. Worldwide, they are also credited as the number one cause of bird fatalities including 33 bird extinctions.

2.) Diseases, vehicles and predators reduce your free-roaming cat’s lifespan by over 10 years. On average, cats who are allowed to roam outdoors often don’t live to see age 5. Cats who are always kept safely confined can live to be 18 to 20 years old.

3.) Many go A LOT farther than you would think, putting them in huge danger on their journeys.

Catify to Satisfy!

‘Catification’ is a term developed by Feline Behaviourist Jackson Galaxy. It simply means to think ‘cat-first’ when designing the layout of your home. Forget the nasty looking cat tree in the corner of the living room! Catification is about creating stylish and functional furniture, climbing areas, and perches in your home. Once set-up, your cats become a beautiful ‘living’ decoration to your house.

It can be as simple as putting a cat bed on your windowsill or removing clutter from the top of your dressers. Have you considered installing affordable IKEA shelves to create a vertical superhighway through your house? Your cat will delight in watching the world from above. Cats with vantage points are more confident and less likely to have litter box issues!

If you’re stuck, check out Pinterest for thousands of ideas.

Make Feeding Time a Project

Free fed cats tend to get fat. Fat cats easily develop many life-threatening diseases.
Cats get bored without a job. Bored cats are obnoxious and can be destructive.

Solve both issues easily by making feeding time an event. Cats naturally like to work for their food. In the wild they can hunt for hours before getting to eat. Stimulate their natural instincts by feeding meals in a puzzle toy. You can purchase many varieties online, or you can DIY one for next to no money at all!

If you have a high-energy cat with ‘annoying’ behaviours, you can try playing a vigorous game with a wand toy before feeding with a puzzle toy. This fulfills your cat’s instinctual checklist:

  1. Hunt
  2. Catch & Kill
  3. Eat
  4. Groom
  5. Sleep

For the Love of Cats

If you cat is experiencing any unusual behaviour, it’s time to see a vet. If you’re interested in making your outdoor cat an indoor cat but unsure of how to start, be sure to book a veterinary appointment so you can have all of your questions answered. Natural relaxation medications can help ease the transition. Ask your vet about Feliway calming sprays and diffusers.

For more information on keeping your cat satisfied in a safe indoor environment, check out Jackson Galaxy’s Blog.


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Dewdney Diaries is a blog updated every month, recounting the exciting and interesting stories at Dewdney Animal Hospital. There's never a dull day at Dewdney!

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