Giving Cats a Good Indoor Life

Pet owners who keep their cats indoors not only protect their local wildlife, but also protect their favorite feline. Even if a cat is used to being outdoors, it is still easy to give them a fantastic life indoors.

Why Keep Cats Indoors?

Many cat lovers have a mistaken impression that cats need to be free to roam about outdoors in order to have a happy life. Indoor cats, however, can do plenty of roaming and exploring without ever venturing outdoors, and when they stay inside, they avoid a wide range of risks and hazards, including…

  • Diseases that can be spread from feral cats or other outdoor pets
  • Fleas, ticks, mites, worms and other pests and parasites
  • Predators looking for the easy meal a domestic cat can be
  • Poisons and toxic chemicals, such as antifreeze, oil, pesticides and rodenticides
  • Animal cruelty from unscrupulous persons who may harm or torture the cat
  • Catnapping attempts, either to turn the cat in to a shelter or adopt a "homeless" cat
  • Exposure to poor weather, freezing temperatures and storms
  • Cars and other vehicles that can kill roaming, unwary pets


Because of all these threats, it is no surprise that cats kept exclusively indoors live much longer, healthier lives than their outdoor counterparts. In fact, an indoor cat may live 5-10 times as long as an outdoor cat, giving many more years of faithful companionship to its considerate and responsible owner.

Keeping Your Cat Happy

Despite cats' reputations for demanding behavior and aloof attitudes, it is easy to keep a cat happy indoors. To provide the best possible life for your indoor feline…

  • Provide Excellent Care
    A happy life begins with a healthy life. Be sure your cat gets appropriate veterinary care, including vaccinations, dental care and regular checkups. A nutritious diet, regular grooming and suitable exercise will all help keep your cat happy.

  • Keep the Toys Coming
    Cats enjoy new, novel toys, especially interactive items they can bat around or get responses from with noise, lights or motion. Toys do not have to be expensive, but they should be rotated regularly to keep each play activity fresh and interesting.

  • Purrfect Playtime
    The best toy you can give your cat is yourself, and they will love the time you play with them. Drag a string for them to "hunt" or toss a ball of aluminum foil for them to chase. A paper bag can also be a fun toy, especially if your hands or fingers make it move.

  • Reach New Heights
    Climbing and exploring are irresistible to cats, and you can get vertical with a kitty tower or similar structure for them to climb. The best towers for the happiest cats will have multiple levels that include tunnels, hidey holes, scratching posts and napping platforms.

  • Window to the World
    Provide your cat a view from a wide ledge, seat or platform by a sunny window. If a bird feeder or bird bath is noticeable, your cat may stay vigilantly watching it for hours, and if you open the window slightly (with a sturdy screen in place!) the fresh breezes will be invigorating.

  • Grow a Kitty Garden
    Many cats will nibble on grasses, and you can get an indoor kit to grow safe, attractive cat grass from a pet supply store. Keep your cat away from other houseplants, however, which can often be toxic. For a special treat, consider growing some catnip now and then.

  • Tune in to Cat TV
    If you want to go high tech for a happy cat, consider cat-friendly television. DVDs and videos are available that include a range of nature sounds and images of birds, mice or other wildlife that will catch cats' attention. Running a video can help keep cats entertained for hours.

  • Consider a Companion
    While some cats prefer to be solitary, many cats do enjoy having a friend. While you can be that friend, if your work or social life keeps you away from home frequently, consider getting a second cat or even a dog to keep your cat company.

  • Construct a Catio
    If you still want to give your cat some outdoor time but want to keep them safe, try constructing a cat patio – a catio. This can be as simple as a pet run with a roof so the cat cannot roam freely, or it can be a complex maze of paths and ledges that go between different windows of your home. A screened-in gazebo is another option that can easily be equipped to keep your cat safe.

Cats may think they want to go outside, but there are many ways to give your cat a fun, enriching and healthy indoor life. By taking steps to protect your cat and let them enjoy their life indoors, you are being a responsible pet owner and protecting your pet in the best possible way