In case you weren’t aware, September is Happy Healthy Cat Month! In honor of our feline friends, our team at Anasazi Animal Clinic would like to give you some advice on keeping your indoor cat entertained and out of trouble. Outdoor cats get plenty of exercise and stimulation, but the outdoors are very dangerous for household cats, between cars and other animals. So what do indoor cats need to be happy and healthy?
1. Plenty of perches.
Make sure your cat has plenty of cozy perches around the house. Cats generally prefer spaces that are high or near sunny windows. If your cat has a particular window she loves to look out, you can buy or make a simple padded perch for her to nap on. Remember to always keep your windows closed and locked, so she can’t escape!
Cats instinctively love to observe their surroundings from up high. In the wild, not only does a higher vantage point give cats a better view of prey, but it also offers them some safety from larger animals—and gives them a birds-eye view to see a predator coming. Obviously household cats don’t do much hunting, but a high perch can offer safety from other pets or small children and it can give them a calm, private spot to nap and contemplate their next meal.
2. Keep things neat and tidy.
Make sure her litter box is cleaned out and contains fresh litter at all times. Clean food and water dishes are crucial as well. If your house has multiple cats, you’ll need additional sets of litter boxes and food dishes. Without these things, your cat is likely to become stressed. Stress can be a contributing factor in developing illnesses and unwanted behaviors in cats (and people too)!
What do indoor cats need most? Lots of love and exercise! Indoor cats need playtime since they aren’t able to run and chase prey outside. Make sure your cat has several toys to play with and also be sure to set aside some time for interacting and playing with your cat each day. It will help you bond with her and also give her exercise. Exercise not only prevents weight gain and health issues, it also keeps your cat’s mind stimulated, which is an important component of keeping her happy.
4. Regular vet visits.
Cats are one of the most popular pets, but they’re brought to the vet far less often than dogs. What’s the reason? If you’re a cat owner, you probably already know about the anxiety most cats (and you!) experience during a vet visit. Just getting them to the appointment can be quite an ordeal! But regular vet visits are essential to ensuring your cat stays healthy throughout her lifetime. For tips on reducing this stress for you and your cat, refer to this blog post. Another reason cats aren’t seen at the vet as frequently as dogs is that they are very skilled at hiding pain and illness as a survival mechanism. Here are some subtle signs to look out for that might indicate your cat is not as happy and healthy as she should be.
5. Safe access to the great outdoors.
Obviously cats love to be outside! Many cat owners take their cats for walks using harnesses and leashes. If your cat tolerates this, it can be a great option to get her outside safely. Just be sure to thoroughly test the harness inside before using it outside to get her used to it and ensure that she can’t escape. A “catio” is another great option to consider for safe outdoor access, although it may be prohibitively expensive for many.
If you have a fenced-in backyard, you may be tempted to let your cat roam, however, cats are skilled jumpers and climbers—so even if you have an 8-foot fence, your cat will likely find a way over it. If you do want to let your cat out in the backyard, be sure that your yard has been thoroughly cat-proofed.
Compassionate Vet in Gilbert
Make sure that your cat is microchipped and always wearing her ID in case she manages to sneak out the front door when you’re not looking. And bring her in to see us if it’s been more than a year since her last checkup. Many of us at Anasazi Animal Clinic are cat owners ourselves—we love cats and want to see them as happy and healthy as they can be!