Newton’s Purrspective – Is it Stressful to be an Indoor Cat?
“Indoor only” cats have an average life span of 12 – 20 years. This is significantly reduced (1-5 years) for cats who spend a large amount of time alone outdoors. But is staying safe inside unnatural and stressful for Kitty? Is it enough to provide food, shelter and affection? What does a cat really need to be happy indoors?
Although we’ve lived with humans for 9,000 years we are still predators at heart. Our ancestors lived in complex environments and were constantly challenged intellectually in order to survive. So, I have to admit we do get bored without physical and mental exercise. But we can solve that problem.
You want Kitty to be safe, but you don’t want her literally pulling her fur out from stress. What can you do to “catify” your indoor environment? You don’t need a large area, but you may need to rethink how that area is used.
Cats need a variety of indoor terrain. This satisfies their need to run, climb and safely curl up for a nap. In a multi-cat household it also provides a setting for games of hide-and-seek as well as a chance for solitude when you just don’t want to play anymore. Windows are important for both relaxing sunbaths and the stimulation of observing nature outside.
Furniture arrangement can satisfy this need for variety, but the addition of “cat furniture” helps to limit the wear and tear on upholstery. Cat trees are popular since they provide climbing opportunities and perches for overlooking the “catdom”. Some cats enjoy window perches, but please be sure they are stable. At my “castle” we have a special table next to a window that is reserved exclusively for cats. It has a small piece of cat furniture called a “curl” which is a great seat for relaxing or observing. For serious power naps we all love our Faerie Cat Beds.
My friend Purricane on his “curl.”
Cat trees and scratchers can be purchased or built. Although formaldehyde has been banned for over 10 years in the U.S. there are still potential toxins in carpet. Whether you are buying, or building cat furniture, look for natural fibers without toxic dyes or glue. http://pets.thenest.com/nontoxic-green-materials-use-building-cat-trees-12212.html Should there happen to be any accidents on the carpet I recommend a non-chemical cleaner, Anti Icky Poo.
Convivial House Cat or flower essences such as Calm and Serene can work wonders for reducing stress. Mood music for cats is known to be soothing. “A Ball of Twine” is at the top of my playlist.
Of course, exercise (which releases endorphins) is always more fun when it involves catnip toys. My favorites are the Cat Faeries Legendary Cat Toys. They bring out my wild side and are sturdy enough for “bunny kicks” and occasional dips in the water dish. I’ve had some of mine for years. (The boxes are fun to play with too.)