Keeping your cat indoors

an indoor cat is a safe cat 


With a growing indoors only feline zoo and most who were formerly rescue cats or strays accustomed to living outdoors before I became their guardian, keeping them in isn't as hard as you might think.

I have provided my crew with plenty of toys, climbers, window seats, and have trained several of my cats to walk outside with a harness and a leash.

other helpful links on harness training your cat/s.

Walking your cat article from Cats International

making the outdoors indoors, with Cats den 

Plants are great, especially catnip, mint or parsley pots but remember there are other plants that are toxic to cats, please check this link for a list.

also a great link  on things found in your home that could be poisonous for your pet :( 

A pretty neat Cat house

Indoor Cats Initiative:

Conflict Between Cats 

Feline Life Stressors 

How to Clean-Up Cat Urine 

Increasing the Activity of Your Cat 

indoor cats need... 

Introducing New Pets 

purrfect start 

Spraying and Marking 

The Unique Feline 

Click to feed an animal in need

some of  my little feline zoo crew on a walkabout

Cammie and Smokey Joe waiting for their turn. Hold on. I still have not put on their harnesses yet!

Smokey Joe



enjoying the outdoors from a perch side view



A safe cat is an indoor cat...... 

Unfortunately, too many cat owners think it’s best for their beloved Whiskers to prowl the neighbourhood making good use of her nine lives. However, with all the risks faced by outdoor cats, she’s playing Russian roulette out there. Some of the dangers that outdoor cats face are:

  • vehicles
  • unfriendly dogs
  • predators such as coyotes and raccoons
  • other cats defending their territory
  • angry neighbours who dislike cats digging and defecating in their garden
  • diseases such as feline leukemia or immunodeficiency viruses
  • fleas, ticks and other parasites
  • poisons from substances such as antifreeze or pesticides
  • sickness from eating garbage or other contaminated morsels
  • harsh weather that can cause frostbite in winter or dehydration in summer
  • getting lost

Another reason to keep your cat indoors is to stop her killing wild animals, particularly birds. Several studies suggest that domestic cats kill millions of songbirds every year. Besides, your neighbours will appreciate not having Whiskers traipsing through or relieving herself in their gardens or children’s sandboxes. Indoor cats live longer, are healthier and suffer fewer injuries and health complications than outdoor cats.






But will Whiskers be happy inside?


With just a little effort on your part, Whiskers can have everything she needs to be safe, happy and fulfilled indoors.

Think of bringing a little of the outdoor experience inside.

This should include opportunities for play, rest, scratching, fresh air, outdoor viewing and companionship.

Here are some tips to help your cat enjoy the great indoors:

  • Have your cat spayed or neutered, preferably before he or she is six months old. This will reduce the risk of several health problems, minimize offensive spraying or other territorial behaviour and prevent your cat from contributing to the tragic problem of pet overpopulation. There is no reason not to spay or neuter your cat.
  • Trim your cat’s claws every few weeks. (Your veterinarian can show you how.) This will reduce her need to scratch and the potential for damage to your furniture. Scratching is a natural behaviour that cats perform to sharpen their claws, stretch their front limbs and mark their territory from glands on the bottom of their paws.
  • Provide scratching boxes or posts that are acceptable to your cat. Stability is important to make sure Whiskers doesn’t choose the solid, sturdy couch instead. Some cats are horizontal scratchers while others generally scratch vertically so you will need to provide the appropriate scratching places. Many cats prefer a rough surface such as sisal rope or natural wood. Entice your cat to use the designated places by sprinkling them with catnip.
  • The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and many veterinarians do not condone declawing as it can be a painful procedure that can cause ongoing discomfort and robs the cat of a natural defence. It should only be considered if all other options have been exhausted and it is the only alternative to euthanasia.
  • Cats love to perch up high and observe the world outside from a sofa by the window, a ledge attached to the windowsill, or a cat tree with perches. (Plans to make a cat tree are available from CFHS.)
  • A bird feeder outside the window will provide hours of entertainment.
  • Supply toys that will appeal to your cat’s hunting and stalking instincts. Simple items such as ping pong balls, crumpled balls of paper, or toys hanging on a string can make for great games of ‘chase and pounce.’ Do not leave string lying around as cats will eat it, causing them serious harm. Rotate different toys to provide a variety of stimulation. Be sure you make time to play some of the games with your companion too. Consider adding a second cat for company, especially if you work long hours. Depending on the age and personality of your cat, a buddy could be just what she needs to put some spark in her life. Keep the new cat separated from Whiskers for a few days to allow the newcomer to adjust to the new surroundings. Allow the cats to smell, hear and see each other from a distance before getting up close. Supervise their interactions for a few days to make sure everything is going well.
  • A screened porch or enclosed balcony provides a perfect haven for your cat to get fresh air in a safe environment. Cats will jump off balconies, so make sure it is properly enclosed with screening to prevent your cat from escaping.
  • Enclosing your backyard or a portion of it is a great way for Whiskers to spend time outdoors. But make sure she can’t climb or squeeze out.
  • If you have the patience, you may want to try harness-training your cat. This will be easier if you begin when your cat is young. Allow the cat to get used to the harness by wearing it for a few hours every day before taking her outside. Stay close to your cat and away from traffic or other loud noises. Be prepared to dawdle and don’t pull on the leash or the cat will simply lie down. Do not leave your cat tied outside on a leash unattended.
  • Clean the litter box every day. You should have one litter box per household cat.
  • You may consider bringing a little of the outside in by growing grass in a large pot as cats love the sweet taste of young grass. Most pet stores carry kits for growing kitty grass.

Making the transition

The easiest way to raise a cat as an indoor cat is to keep her inside from the time she is a kitten. Cats that have never been outside are generally quite happy to stay in the comfort of their indoor castle. However, if your cat has been out playing Russian roulette already, it will take a little patience and effort on your part to convince her that staying indoors is a good idea. Just as Rover would rather go tearing around the neighbourhood if given the chance, so would Whiskers. But most dog owners know this is not in the best interest of their pet. Cat owners are slowly beginning to realize this too.

The easiest time to make the transition is in late fall when the outside world isn’t so enticing anyway. Make sure you have implemented as many of the above suggestions as possible. You must realize that your cat is not likely to buy into the arrangement at first and you will have to turn a deaf ear to her persistent pleas for the door to be opened. Remember you are giving your cat the gift of a longer, healthier life.

Once you have decided to make your cat an indoor cat you must be consistent. Letting her out once in a while will only prolong the difficult stage. Make an effort to spend more time playing and interacting with her. Keeping your cat indoors gives you an opportunity to spend more quality time with her and to appreciate her unique characteristics.

Other important points

All cats should visit their veterinarian annually for a complete health check-up and to receive vaccinations to prevent common feline diseases. Many of these diseases are airborne so indoor cats need protection too.

Identification is another important aspect of responsible pet ownership, just in case your cat finds herself loose outside. Without a tag and permanent identification such as a microchip or tattoo, the chances of Whiskers finding her way home are remote. An increasing number of Canadian muncipalities have bylaws requiring cats to be identified and prohibiting them from roaming loose outside.

Cats have been domesticated for hundreds of generations as companions to humans. Since they are no longer wild animals, they need our care and protection. In return they provide us entertainment, company and can even improve our health. So please take the time to understand them, love them and appreciate them and you will be rewarded for many years.


  1. COMPAS Inc. (Survey sponsored by Ralston Purina Canada Inc.), March 1995
  2. Canadian Federation of Humane Societies national animal shelter statistics, 1993
  3. Canadian Federation of Humane Societies national animal shelter statistics, 1996
  4. Gina Parsons, “The Inside Story,” Animals magazine, (Massachusetts SPCA, September/October, 1996), pp. 24-27.

Other publications available from the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies:

  • A Commonsense Guide to Selecting a Dog or a Cat
  • Living with Urban Wildlife
  • Raccoons
  • Squirrels
  • Skunks
  • Mice and Rats
  • Early Age Spay/Neuter factsheet

Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
102-30 Concourse Gate, Nepean, Ontario K2E 7V7
Toll free: 1-888-678-CFHS
Charitable Registration # 11830 884 RR0001, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions about the content of this website.

 Things to consider before letting your cat roam:

check out this webpage for some very useful links:

my.little.feline.zoo's Home Page

some more pix of my little feline zoo .......

Cammie and Smokey Joes' Baby pictures.

Suggested cat book reading list

some links to some pretty useful stuff......

my little feline zoo crew's photo album

9 Lives 

Resources for Feral Cats

The Vaccination Conundrum

all you want to know about cats.... and more ^..^

Cat Factoids, proverb, trivia, quotes and more....

Bella and Tippy's page

Are you allergic to your cats? 

My little feline zoo crews' saved/birthdays

you gotta have friends.......  

new additions to the little feline zoo... look how they have grown

Cat of the month 

 My little feline zoo's memorial page