If you’re a cat owner, you may be wondering whether you should keep your feline friend indoors or let them roam free. While outdoor cats may seem happier, they are at risk of injury, disease, and even death. Additionally, outdoor cats can harm birds and other wildlife, which are already struggling to survive.
Fortunately, keeping your cat indoors is a safe and viable option that benefits not only your pet, but also birds, neighbors, and the environment. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of keeping cats indoors and provide tips for making the transition from outdoor to indoor life.
- Keeping cats indoors is safer for both cats and wildlife.
- Outdoor enclosures and leash training are good alternatives for cats who crave outdoor time.
- Feeding birds appropriately and discouraging your neighbor’s cat from attacking wildlife can also help protect birds and other animals.
Making the transition from out to in:
Transitioning an outdoor cat to an indoor lifestyle can be a daunting task, but with patience and persistence, it’s possible to make the change successfully. Whether you choose to make the transition gradually or all at once, it’s essential to provide your cat with plenty of attention and stimulation while they adjust to their new environment.
One way to make the transition is to gradually increase the amount of time your cat spends indoors. Start by bringing them inside for short periods and gradually increase the duration of their indoor stay. Alternatively, you can bring your cat inside and shut the door for good. Regardless of the approach you choose, it’s important to create a comfortable and stimulating indoor environment for your cat.
During the transition period, it’s crucial to provide your cat with plenty of attention and playtime. Indoor cats need human companionship to be happy, so make sure you spend quality time with your cat every day. You can also provide your cat with secure cat condos, scratching posts, and interactive toys to keep them entertained.
To encourage your cat to exercise, provide them with toys that promote physical activity, such as long poles with feathers or fabric attached. You can also hide toys throughout the house for your cat to find or give them ping pong balls, paper bags, or cardboard boxes to play with.
Fresh greens are also essential for your cat’s well-being. You can buy kits that include containers and seeds to grow or plant pesticide-free alfalfa, grass, bird seed, or catnip in a container. This way, your cat can graze safely and not destroy your house plants. Cooked string beans or peas cooled to a safe temperature are also a great way to provide your cat with greens.
Spaying or neutering your cat can also help ease the transition to an indoor lifestyle. Unneutered male cats are more likely to spray and mark their territory, which can make them difficult to keep indoors. Spaying or neutering your cat can help reduce these behaviors and make the transition smoother.
In some parts of the country, the easiest time of year to make the transition is during the cold winter months when the cat is more likely to want to be inside anyway. By the end of winter, your cat may be completely content to remain inside.
Outdoor Enclosures – The Best of Both Worlds:
If you’re a cat owner who wants to provide your feline friend with a safe way to explore the outdoors, an outdoor enclosure or run could be the perfect solution. By adding objects like tree limbs, multilevel cat condos, tires, toys hanging from branches, and boxes, you can create an interesting and appealing environment for your cat to explore. Additionally, you can incorporate landscaping elements like shrubbery or spiky plants to create a more natural feel. By searching the internet for sources of enclosures, you can find a variety of options to suit your needs and budget.
If you have a house cat and want to take them outside for a leisurely stroll, leash training is the way to go. While it’s not exactly like walking a dog, cats can learn to enjoy being outside with you. However, it’s important to note that outdoor cats should never be left unsupervised while on a leash or lead.
To start leash training your cat, begin by getting them used to wearing a harness inside the house. Allow your cat to wear the harness for short periods of time and reward them with treats. Once your cat is comfortable wearing the harness, you can attach the leash and start taking them outside.
It’s important to be patient with your cat during the training process and continue to praise them for good behavior. If your cat starts exhibiting behavioral problems, such as destructive behavior or not using the litter pan, consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist for advice.
If you’re adopting a new cat, it’s best to keep them inside from the beginning to prevent them from getting lost. To discourage your cat from wanting to go outside, you can use a long-range water pistol or shake can when they ask to be let out.
In addition to leash training, there are other ways to keep your indoor cat happy and healthy. Trim your cat’s claws every one to two weeks or use artificial nail caps to prevent damage to furniture and other household items. Provide one litter pan per cat and scoop daily. Change non-clumping litter once or twice weekly and clumping litter every two to four weeks.
Consider adopting another companion animal for your cat if you can make the financial and emotional commitment. Many cats enjoy the companionship of another cat or a compatible dog of the opposite sex.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT YOUR NEIGHBOR’S CAT?
If you are dealing with your neighbor’s cat attacking birds and wildlife in your yard, there are some suggestions that may help you deal with the situation.
Ask your neighbor:
The best solution is to ask your neighbor to keep their cat indoors or under their control when outside. Explain to them all the risks their cats face when they roam outdoors. Share a copy of American Bird Conservancy’s brochure, “Keeping Cats Indoors Isn’t Just For The Birds,” with your neighbor. This brochure gives more information on the benefits of keeping cats indoors.
If your cat-owning neighbor has a fenced-in yard but refuses to keep their cat indoors or otherwise under control, perhaps you can convince them to install cat-proof fencing. This won’t prevent the cats from killing birds and other wildlife in their yard, but at least it will keep the cats from killing wildlife in your yard. You can search the internet for sources of fencing.
Humanely trapping the cat:
When all else fails, some people feel they have no choice but to trap their neighbor’s cat and take it to a shelter. You should check with local laws first because, in some areas, it is illegal to trap a neighbor’s cat, even if it is on your property. Also, warn your neighbor that you plan to trap their cat if they refuse to control it.
Many animal control agencies or shelters have humane live traps to lend to homeowners who need to trap a nuisance animal. Use bait such as sardines or tuna spread on newspaper or a paper plate, and put it in the back of the trap such that the cat must enter the trap to get the bait. Regularly check the trap, preferably every hour.
A word of caution: well-fed cats can be hard to trap. You may also end up with non-target animals such as raccoons, opossums, or skunks, so avoid trapping at night. Also, minimize trauma to the cat by gently handling the trap, and put a cloth over it during transportation.
Take the cat to your local shelter and tell them it’s your neighbor’s cat so that they can contact your neighbor. Never abandon the cat or harm it in any way. Be extremely careful not to get bitten or scratched, especially if you are trapping stray or feral cats, because they may carry rabies and other diseases.
Sonic cat collar:
A sonic cat collar emits a high-pitched signal every 7 seconds to alert birds and other wildlife that a cat is near. A small field trial showed a 66% reduction in the number of birds killed, but it did not show a reduction in the number of small mammals killed.
It is unknown whether a sonic cat collar would be effective in reducing cat predation on nestlings, fledglings, reptiles or amphibians, and it would not protect the cat from the hazards of roaming outdoors. You can search the internet for sources of sonic cat collars.
Fencing around bird feeders:
Some people have found that putting poultry or rabbit wire fencing around bird feeders and bird baths is a very effective way to prevent cats from killing birds at these locations. The fence need only be 2 feet high and 4 feet in diameter. If a cat tries to jump over it, it gives birds a chance to fly away.
Some people have had success in keeping cats away from feeders by placing hazelnuts under them. Cats avoid walking on hazelnut shells because the shells are sharp. The shells last over 5 years, prevent weeds, and are an attractive color.
Spraying with a Garden Hose:
If you’re having trouble with cats in your yard, spraying them with a garden hose can be an effective way to keep them away from your bird feeders. However, this method only works if the cat is sprayed with water every time it enters your yard. If you’re not able to consistently spray the cat with water, it may become accustomed to the spray and ignore it. It’s also important to note that spraying cats with water should never be done in a way that could harm the cat.
What Doesn’t Work:
There are several methods that have been proven to be ineffective in preventing predation on birds and other wildlife by cats. Here are some things that you should avoid:
- Putting bells on a cat’s collar: This does not prevent predation as a cat can learn to silently stalk its prey. Even if the bell does ring, a bird would not necessarily associate the sound with danger, and a bell would do nothing to protect young animals.
- Feeding a cat: Scientific studies have proven that well-fed cats still kill wildlife because the urge to hunt and the urge to eat are controlled by different portions of a cat’s brain.
- De-clawing a cat: This does not prevent predation. A free-roaming de-clawed cat in a scientific study in Wichita, KS killed more birds than any other cat in the study.
- Using mothballs: This is dangerous as mothballs are toxic to both cats and birds.
- Using pepper spray: This is also dangerous as it can cause harm to both cats and birds.
It is important to note that these methods have been proven to be ineffective, and it is recommended that you avoid using them. Instead, consider other proven methods to prevent predation on birds and other wildlife.