Indoor cats typically live longer, healthier lives than those allowed outdoors. They are protected from dangers such as busy roads, predators, parasites, and infectious diseases, and also are less likely to go missing. However, indoor cats need the appropriate care, attention, and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and stress, and keeping them happy will improve their quality of life and help prevent behavioral problems. Our Town and Country Animal Hospital PC team shares guidelines to ensure your indoor cat stays happy and healthy.
Provide appropriate veterinary care for your indoor cat
Your cat needs regular veterinary care to ensure they remain healthy. Guidelines for providing appropriate veterinary care for your cat include:
- Wellness visits — Schedule yearly wellness visits. Cats frequently don’t exhibit illness until their condition is advanced, but diagnostics performed during a routine wellness examination helps our veterinary team detect health complications in their early stages when treatment is easier.
- Vaccines — Keep your cat’s vaccines up to date, to protect them from dangerous infectious diseases.
- Parasite prevention — Indoor cats are susceptible to parasites and the diseases they carry. Provide year-round heartworm, flea, and tick prevention to ensure your cat is protected.
- Dental care — Bacteria are attracted to food particles left in your cat’s mouth, and can cause severe dental disease as well as organ damage. Schedule regular professional veterinary dental cleanings and provide at-home dental care to keep your cat’s mouth clean and healthy.
Feed your indoor cat appropriately
Feed your cat a healthy diet to ensure that they receive the nutrition they need, and they remain at a healthy weight. Guidelines to feed your indoor cat appropriately include:
- Ensuring the food is approved for your cat — Cats have different nutritional needs at different life stages. Find a diet approved specifically for your cat or kitten. You can ask our veterinary team for nutritional counseling and product recommendations.
- Calculating your cat’s energy requirements — Use a pet calorie calculator to determine your cat’s daily energy requirements.
- Measuring your cat’s meal portion — Once you’ve determined how much food your cat needs, use a measuring cup to accurately measure their meal portion.
- Limiting treats — Use treats sparingly, and ensure you account for the treats’ calories in your cat’s daily calorie allotment.
Provide environmental enrichment for your indoor cat
Cats require certain instinctual needs to be happy. Guidelines to provide environmental enrichment for your indoor cat include:
- Vertical space — Cats feel safer when they can view their environment from an elevated position. Provide cat towers, or remove objects from bookshelves and cabinets to allow your cat to climb.
- Scratching posts — Cats need to scratch to remove dead nail tissue, mark their territory, and stretch tight muscles. Provide several scratching options throughout your home to save your furniture.
- Hiding places — Cats who have access to hiding places exhibit less stress. Ensure your cat has a place to escape, and don’t disturb them in their safe haven.
- Window perches — Cats enjoy watching birds and small animals, and a comfortable window perch gives your cat a front row view to their favorite show.
Provide mental and physical stimulation for your indoor cat
Cats need mental and physical stimulation to work off excess energy and prevent boredom. Guidelines to mentally and physically stimulate your indoor cat include:
- Scheduling playtime — Get your cat moving with at least 10 to 15 minutes of playtime twice a day. Cat favorites are laser pointers and wand-style toys. Switch out your cat’s toys frequently to ensure they don’t get bored.
- Using a food puzzle toy — Use a food puzzle toy to force your cat to use their mind to get their treat.
- Hiding your cat’s food — At meal times, hide small food portions throughout your home, so your cat has to hunt for their meal.
- Teaching a simple trick — Teach your cat a simple trick, such as how to high five. Reward them with pets, praise, and treats, and keep the sessions short, so they won’t get distracted.
Ensure your indoor cat is happy with their litter box
If your cat is unhappy with their litter box, they may find other places to powder their nose. Guidelines to ensure your indoor cat is happy with their litter box include:
- Appropriate placement — Place your cat’s litter box in a quiet, low traffic area that your cat can conveniently access.
- Appropriate number — Ensure you have enough litter boxes for every cat in your home. A good rule of thumb is one litter box for every cat, plus one extra.
- Appropriate size — Your cat’s box should be as long as your cat from their nose to the tip of their outstretched tail, and as wide as your cat from their nose to the base of their tail.
- Appropriate litter — Use about two to three inches of an unscented, clumpable litter.
- Appropriate cleanliness — Scoop your cat’s litter at least twice daily, and clean the box and replace the litter at least weekly.
Keeping your indoor cat happy is important to ensure a good quality of life and prevent behavioral problems. If you would like to schedule a wellness examination or a dental cleaning for your cat, contact our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team at Town and Country Animal Hospital PC, so we can help keep them happy and healthy.
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