There are five areas of care that you need to cover in order to make your cat happy indoors. The five areas are having a suitable environment, considering their health, allowing your cat to behave in a natural way, allowing your cat to have the right amount of companionship or in a cat’s case privacy. Last but not least and most important from the perspective of cats is food make sure that they have a great diet.
Within those five areas, there are lots of different things that you can do. Some of the things below apply to both indoor and outdoor cats, however many are more important for an indoor cat as it is purely reliant on its human, more so than an outdoor cat.
5 Essential Areas of Care to Make Your Cat Happy Indoors
It’s great to start with the basics when deciding how to make your cat happy indoors. In 2006 in the UK there was the animal welfare act. This states that there are five things that you have to do to look after your pet in this case, of course, your cat. Within these 5 main areas, there are sub-areas that help your furry friend stay content.
While each country is different and this may not be the law it does cover all the things that should make your cat happy and content in your home. Below, I have written how this applies to cats and specifically to indoor cats. How you put this into practice will depend on your own personal circumstances and your cats own individual needs.
1. Cats Must Have The Ability to Exhibit Natural Behaviour
Your pet must have the ability to behave in a natural way. In this case for cats.
That means that they must be able to have somewhere comfortable to sleep, have time to play, be able to move about and behave in a catlike manner. For example, jumping & eating. It must also be able to scratch and it needs attention and to be kept occupied and stimulated.
2. Where Appropriate Your Cat Must Have Companionship
Cats, for the most part, are quite happy on their own as they are independent creatures. However, there are times when this is not the case. These days often cat charities will home two kittens together because it’s important for them to have companions.
Some types of cats like my cat Boo who is half a Ragdoll need lots of companionship and attention. Ragdoll cats particularly need interaction and can get very depressed if they do not have it.
In addition, if two cats are attached to each other in the home, it is better to adopt both of them as they will benefit from each others company.
With cats though they also need their own space so they can get away from it all.
3. Your Cat Must Have a Suitable Diet
This applies not only to the type of food you can make give them to make sure they have enough nutrition but also not giving them too much food to make them obese.
Is a variety of food needed? I admit I struggle with this one. And while vets know way more than I do about nutrition etc. I really don’t agree with the vets on this at all. Most vets that I know would recommend that you don’t need to give your cat variety. They say they don’t need it because all the nutrition is in the cat food and that it is us who feel our cat needs it.
I feel very very strongly that in this instance that is wrong. The reason I feel this is that the cat behaviourist experts say that in the wild a cat naturally will eat a variety of different foods so that they get all the nutrition they need (which no one would dispute). While obviously if you feed them exactly the same thing they do get all the nutrition they need in a good quality food, I very much feel that it does not fulfil their natural needs regarding variety. This is a personal thing to me, based on the evidence that I’ve gained from different areas.
I think this is doubly important for an indoor cat because they’re not outside catching mice or insects or even the occasional bird. And while this behaviour makes many of us cringe, it’s a natural instinct for them. And the variety would be what they would do naturally in the wild.
Boo: Due to this Boo does have a variety of food he has his normal crunchies (dried food). I do change the taste of them from salmon to chicken to turkey. Although he does prefer salmon. I do try to keep him to the same crunchies but with an alternate one as a backup.
And of course, he has treats, such as lick-e-lix and Dreamies.
In addition to this, he also has some soft food. He won’t eat the quality stuff, unfortunately, so I’m not happy with just feeding him that. He has a mid-range food.
So he also has some tiny amounts of raw chicken, beef and fish. Although he should be fine as the food is raw I check thoroughly for bones. Otherwise, it’s really should be ok but I’m very paranoid about it. I’m contracted with the charity I got him from that he has to have crunchies because of he had teeth removed to make sure the remaining ones stay strong.
Keep Your Cat Healthy Weight
It’s vital to keep your cat healthy weight. I know this from very bitter experience which one of my cats that just didn’t stop eating. It in didn’t matter what I did she gained weight. She was on a special vet diet. Obesity can cause various illnesses in cats including kidney disease and shorten their life much same as it would with humans.
Keeping an indoor cat a healthy weight can be a challenge depending on the cat. Make sure you choose a food suitable for your cat. Keep an eye on the quantity that you give your cat. There are foods made specially designed for indoor cats.
Some of the cheaper cat foods tend to in my view help towards obesity somewhat and are poor in nutrition. Someone once said it’s the cat equivalent of a human living on takeaway junk food all the time. Cat’s are not meant to have so many carbs as is sometimes in cat food, even the mid-range ones.
Boo: I’m very lucky with Boo he edits his food intake. When I first had him I let him eat pretty much what he wanted in quantities because he was underweight. He needed to bulk up. When I checked after 3 months the exact amount of food he’d eaten, it was spot on. He gained weight and his weight has been the same ever since. I could put a whole raw chicken breast down for him (I don’t) and he would not touch it if he were full.
Not all cats are like this though. Some will just eat and eat which was news to me when it happened the first time with my previous cat. I always thought cats just ate what they needed. But apparently, it can depend on their background if you have a cat that’s come from an environment where hits been a stray or struggled for other reasons to get food it might be prone to just eating whatever and however much it wants.
A good idea to keep a check on this and give regular vet health checks as well as the usual home scales if you can. This makes sure their weight stays within range.
Cats are notoriously difficult to get to lose weight so it is better not to be in that position.
Some of the things I’ve noticed since owning a half a ragdoll is the vets do not always give quite the correct weights for some cats breeds. As I understand it from many comments from Ragdoll owners on Facebook this is quite a big issue for some cat owners of bigger cats. Ragdolls can be up to three times the size of a normal cat so it isn’t reasonable for them to be the same weight.
There seems to be a standard way that some vets use and they don’t take breed into consideration. This, of course, depends on your individual vet. I’ve seen many a distraught owner say my vet said my cat’s too fat and everyone else says no they’re not.
So if you’ve got a bigger cat breed it might be worth thinking about. If your vet is not an expert on your cat’s breed then double check with someone who is and discuss it further with your vet they are usually very good but no one can know everything.
4 Your Cat Must Have A Suitable Living Environment
There are quite a few things cats need in their environment to make them happy. They like sleeping in several different places. This does not necessarily mean you have to provide lots of beds for them but suitable areas. You may find that your cat decides where it wants to sleep.
So What Is a Suitable Environment For Your Indoor Cat?
A cat’s environment should include several different things. They need somewhere to sleep, somewhere to eat & drink, somewhere to exercise, somewhere to play, somewhere to scratch, and of course, they need a litter tray.
1 Make Sleeping Areas for Your Cat
Cats should have their own sleeping area. Ideally, they should have more than one area cos cats like to change where they sleep. When you first get your cat it may decide where it’s happiest to sleep.
You may wish to get your cat beds or cat trees with a bed area in or simply a nice cosy blanket area.
Some cats just love to pick a particular sofa or chair. Other cats prefer to be covered over and have beds like igloos. Whatever you decide make sure your cat has the ability to get up out the way of everyone if it needs to.
You may find that your cat’s favourite spot is just where you have gotten up from.
2 Where Are The Best Food & Drink Areas?
A cat should always have water put down for them ideally more than one bowl. And while most people keep them together in nature they would actually drink and eat separately. So if you can keep your water bowl away from your food bowl your cat will thank you for it.
Water bowls ideally should be wide and fairly flat so that your cat hasn’t got to dip its head into the water and get his whiskers wet. If you can’t do flat bowls make your bowl is topped up really high all the time. Alternatively, some people prefer to use water fountains for cats. And some cats prefer sinks with running water.
Food and water bowls should if you can be out of the way so that your cat is not disturbed when they are eating and drinking. Also, they should not be in the same place. If you can, separate them. Also ideally your cat should be able to see any threat while it is eating or drinking so if you can place the bowls away from the wall or so that they can sit behind it while eating.
Place food in different areas to stimulate your cat’s mind when eating as well.
3 Exercise & Play Are Vital for Indoor Cats
Exercise and play are vital for your cat’s health. Especially if your cat is an indoor cat. This is because it is reliant purely on you and small living area compared to the wide outdoor world. In order for it to exercise you will need some form of climbing area, whether you use your furniture or and a cat tree.
They need to climb to keep the muscles in order indoor cats can lose muscle strength if they don’t get enough exercise it’s alright if you have a bigger house but in some smaller houses, it makes it harder to keep your cat fit. In addition, you can also take your cat outside for walks or have an outside area.
You can play with your cat using a variety of cat toys. I am going to go into toys on a separate post because cats and a notoriously fussy with toys and what ones they were they won’t play with and why.
But it’s vital that whatever you decide that you and your cat to spend time together playing this in creates a bond with your cat and stimulates your cat’s mind and also gives them the exercise that they need.
4 The Ability to Scratch Objects
Cats need to scratch to sharpen their claws and to get rid of the dead outside claw layers. They also scratch to mark their territory and to leave their scent.
There is a huge choice of shapes and sizes of scratch posts and cat trees that you can pick from for your cat. If you get one or more of these it can not only be good for your cat but also your furniture and carpets.
5 Cat Toilets & Litter Trays
They will also need some form of cat toilet or litter tray. Just be aware to get a decent sized litter tray as most people get too small a litter tray when they pick up their groceries. Which type you get will depend on your cat’s preferences.
Most cat trays will also need some form of litter. The litter content will also depend on your cat. When you get your cat it will be used to a specific litter. Keep it using that until it settles in then change it gradually if you need to.
6 Keep Your Cat Cosy & Warm
Cats love to be warm they are heat-seeking creatures. It’s vital that your cat is cosy and warm and feel secure. Make sure that they’re not too warm though and can move away from the heat if then need to especially if they are ill.
Boo: For example, my cat Boo sleeps next to me while I’m working. He has a cat carrier of all things he just will not use his beds. He also has two heated pads.
He also decided when he first moved in that he would sleep at the top of the stairs on a suitcase. I’ve adapted it for him a little bit and put covers on it. But that’s his favourite spot as it is high up and cosy and warm and he enjoys it so he stays there at night.
When he’s not there he sleeping on my lap or on my pillows. When we’re outside he likes to sleep between the grass and a pot or on my lap.
He’s fairly consistent about his bed areas, but occasionally he will sleep somewhere else at which point I usually panic.
5 Freedom From Suffering Pain, Disease & Injury
Cats also need protection from suffering, pain, disease and injury.
Be vigilant. Cats can hide the fact that they’re feeling poorly very well because they have to in order to survive in the wild. So you need to be really observant about any slight changes. It’s easy to overlook it.
Any change in behaviour can be an indicator of an illness or injury.
Of course, if they sit and face the wall it’s instantly to the vet’s as this is serious.
Some of the basic things you can do to help with your cat’s general health.
- Vaccinations & Worming
- Vet health checks via nurse & weigh-ins
- Regular vet checks
- Proper nutrition
You can join pet health clubs, often simple nurse checks and weigh-ins are free. This may depend on your vet though.
- Oral hygiene
Check and keep your cat’s teeth healthy but giving them dried food to crunch on and clean their teeth.
- Observation of your Cats Behaviour
By knowing their habits and behaviour you can often see if something changes and if something is wrong.
Other Attention You Can Give Your Cat
Other things you can do to help your Cat stay happy and healthy indoors include grooming laps, choice of cleaners etc.
If your cat is inside you may be the only person/s that they see and interact with. Spending time with them is important to both of you, it will help your cat and make your bond stronger.
Grooming Your Cat
Grooming may not be needed for short-haired cats, however, you may want to during malting months. Also, cats do groom each other and by doing this you can bond with your cat.
Long haired cats will need to be groomed, not only for the cat but also to help keep the fur down in your house.
Grooming is also a way that you can check over your cat while you groom to make sure it is OK.
All Important Lap Time
The amount of time you cat spends on your lap will really depend on your cat’s temperament and maybe the weather. Some cats will want to spend more time with you than others. This is not something you can force, they will decide on how long that is. In the winter you are the perfect heated pad.
Cats Love Routine
Cats love routine and they quickly come to know what is going to happen and when. They don’t like this routine to change.
Boo: This is one I have difficulty with as I don’t always do the same thing every day. And boy don’t I know it!
Boo likes to get up early, a bit too early for me really (try 3 am, 4 am). I start work then because I am up. But Boo doesn’t do weekends and as far as he is concerned it is time to get up and start work (or in his case once he has had breakfast to go to sleep next to me while I work).
They Like a Clean House
Cats like the house to be clean and tidy. However, they don’t like strong chemical smells.
Cats Hate Citrus Smells
Cats absolutely hate the smell of citrus so I tend mostly to stay away from lemon cleaners of any kind.
Happy Cat Family
So that’s it on how to make your indoor cat happy and contented. It sounds like a lot however it is mostly just standard care and taking care of your cat’s needs which us cat owners want to do anyway.