Do You Know Your Indoor Cat's Unique Care Needs To Keep Her Happy And Healthy?

If you opt to keep your feline friend strictly indoors at all times, your decision is a proactive step toward keeping her healthy. You have eliminated her risks for being struck by a moving vehicle, getting into nasty fights with aggressive dogs or wildlife, contracting diseases from other cats and falling victim to a host of other outdoor dangers. However, with this decision comes a set of special care needs. Find out how to satisfy your indoor cat's special needs to ensure her optimal physical and emotional health.

Watch Her Weight

Your housebound kitty sees less opportunity to run, jump and climb than she would if she embarked on daily adventures outdoors. Combine this with the fact that she never has to work for a morsel because her meals are guaranteed, and you can quickly end up with an overweight cat as she embraces the couch potato lifestyle. This result places her at a higher risk for developing diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and hepatic lipidosis. Take the following steps to maintain your cat's healthy weight:

  • Measure her food to the recommended daily feeding amount for her ideal weight. Your veterinarian can help you to determine her ideal weight.
  • Instead of leaving food out all day and replenishing the bowl whenever the food level is low, feed your cat in a meal fashion.
  • Engage your cat in daily playtime sessions with interactive toys, such as a laser pointer or a teaser wand toy.
  • Place treats throughout the house to satiate some of her hunting instincts and keep her moving.

Move Her On Up

For your indoor cat, a deluxe apartment in the sky is actually a kitty condo with multiple levels and perches positioned from floor to ceiling. In the wild, cats need to take in their surroundings from elevated surfaces that provide optimal vantage points for sighting prey as well as safety from predators. Domestic cats retain the instinctual desire for gazing at their environment from above. Provide your cat with a kitty condo or cat tree that will enable her to climb and perch while providing her with an acceptable surface to scratch and elevated nooks to nap in.

Suitable Scratching

Cats must scratch surfaces. It is an instinctual behavior in which they engage to mark territory, release stress and groom their claws. Cats that go outdoors usually perform this activity on tree trunks or other wooden surfaces, such as fence posts. Provide your indoor cat with scratching surfaces to redirect her scratching urges away from your sofa or carpet. Consider these tips when shopping for a scratching surface for your cat:

  • If your cat reaches for the end of the sofa or a doorframe to scratch, choose a vertical scratching post that is sturdy and taller than your cat.
  • If your cat prefers the rug or a chair cushion for her scratching needs, opt for a horizontal scratching pad.
  • Sprinkle catnip on the post or pad to entice her to use it.

Banish Boredom

In the great outdoors, a cat's mind and senses are stimulated by birds, insects, scents, sounds and new spots to explore. If you do not provide ways to stimulate your cat indoors, she will become bored, which can lead to being sedentary, overweight or destructive. Keep your cat mentally active by doing the following:

  • Provide a window perch at a window where she can watch birds coming and going at a nearby bird feeder.
  • When you come home from shopping at a store that provides paper bags, offer your cat the empty bag to hide and play in. Likewise, offer her the empty shipping carton when you receive an online shopping order in the mail.
  • Gift her with a new toy each time you go to the pet supply store.
  • Provide her with a variety of different types of cat toys. Put some of them away for awhile, and then rotate them with the seasons and holidays.
  • Provide her with a treat dispenser puzzle toy that will make her work to get the treats.
  • Invent new games to play with your cat.
  • Grow an indoor catnip garden.
  • If your home has a secure screened porch, allow her some outdoor time within the porch's confines while under your watchful eye. Be sure to inspect the screening frequently and replace any section that is torn.

Two Is Company

If your cat is alone all day while her human family members are at work, consider adopting a second cat to provide a playmate and companion that will keep them both physically and mentally stimulated. Adopting two kittens at the same time is ideal, but if you already have one cat, choose a second cat or kitten whose temperament will work and play well with her, and introduce the two cats gradually.

By following the aforementioned tips, maintaining a clean litter box, feeding a nutritionally-balanced diet, keeping her nails trimmed and following your veterinarian's recommended care guidelines and examination schedule, your indoor kitty companion will reap the benefits of being physically healthy and emotionally content for years to come. For more information, visit a clinic such as Veterinary Emergency Services Of Lincoln.