Transitioning Your Cat To An Indoor Lifestyle

As a lot of our readers know, we are incredibly passionate about responsible cat ownership, and a big part of this is encouraging cat owners to transition their roaming furry friends to an indoor lifestyle. We wrote more in-depth about why it’s important to keep your cat indoors for their overall health here, as well as why keeping your cat indoors is important for local wildlife here. But today, we want to talk about transitioning your cat indoors as we know this can be a big hurdle for cat owners to overcome, as well as why winter is the perfect time to make that transition.


If you have a new cat or kitten, it is easiest to keep them indoors from the start so they don’t have to adjust to additional changes. If your cat is older and used to going outside, remember that transitioning your cat indoors will need to be a gradual process as your cat adjusts to their new lifestyle. If things don’t work out every time, don’t lose hope. Your cat may need time to learn that being safe at home can be fun.


Make It A Gradual Transition

We all know cats and pets, in general, aren’t fans of changes to their lifestyle, which is why it’s so important to make this transition a gradual and comfortable one for your cat. This makes winter a great opportunity to do this, already your cat is no doubt spending some extra time indoors snuggled up in a cozy corner.


Bring Outdoor Activities Indoors

When transitioning your cat indoors and doing it gradually as mentioned above, bringing their outdoor activities indoors is a great first step. Ensure they are able to toilet, feed and access water indoors. Feeding time is a good opportunity to extend time safe at home. Instead of letting your cat outside straight after eating, extend the time it is spending indoors.


Cats can take some time to get used to using a litter tray, so it may require some patience. Try placing it in an obvious location, but with some privacy. Ensure it is big enough for your cat to enter, use, and exit easily. One cat needs two trays; each additional cat needs another tray, all in different places.


Scratching posts, cat grass, and water fountains will also allow your cat to express natural behaviors while safe at home.


Prepare Your Indoor Space For Your Cat

As we know, cats love their own space, so it’s important to make this transition comfortable for them. Previously, they may have gone outside for some quiet time away from other pets and family members, so make it a priority to find personal quiet space for your cat so they can seek some solitude when needed and know they have their quiet space. All cats love sunbathing, so finding a spot in your house for your cat to relax in the sun during the day will help them transition indoors. Giving them a relaxing space by a window will also keep them entertained watching the wildlife without being able to harm it. Cats also love vertical space, so ensure there are high places they can perch on or walk along.


Make Indoors Fun


Of course, if you make being inside fun for your cat, it’s going to enjoy this transition more. Cats need stimulation and they will often want to go outside to find that stimulation. Sadly this can have a devastating impact on wildlife. We covered lots of ideas on how to keep your cat entertained at home with DIY toys and ideas in a previous blog here.


Remember to put at least 15 minutes aside each day (ideally twice a day) to spend time playing with your feline friend, keep them stimulated by making inside fun and entertaining. If you are able to establish a set routine, this is reassuring for your cat. Cats are most active at dawn and dusk, so this can be a good time for play.


Netflix With Your Cat

We mentioned above how winter can be a great time to transition your cat indoors. Not only will your cat want to spend more time inside, but so will you! One of the most important enrichments in a cat’s life is interaction with humans at a level they are comfortable with – time spent playing, sitting, and sleeping with your cat will create a special bond and help fulfill its emotional needs (as well as your own). Being home more and spending time on your couch is a great chance to get some extra cuddles with your furry friend. This one on one time with you will make your cat want to be indoors far more than outdoors in the cold!


Make A Catio

We had lots of fun talking about ideas for building the perfect catio (outdoor cat enclosure). If you have the time, space, and resources, building a catio can really help to ease your cat into an indoor enclosed space but still allow them to get outdoors to enjoy fresh air and sunshine. You can read our full blog on building the purrfect catio here.


Take Them For A Walk

If you feel your cat would like to experience the outside, they can be taught to walk on a harness if trained from a young age. They may take you for a walk rather than the other way around, but it is a safe way for your cat to experience the outdoors. Doing this will allow your cat to spend some time outside seeing the wildlife and enjoying some fresh air.

Remember, transitioning a cat indoors is different for everyone. Cats have their own personalities, some will take to it easily and others will be more hesitant. Be kind and patient with your furry friend, change is hard but with persistence and consistency, they should start to realise that life inside is actually great!


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© Tasmanian Cat Management Project 2019

TassieCat is a state-wide initiative to promote and facilitate responsible cat ownership and management in Tasmania. The project is supported by Cradle Coast Authority NRM, Kingborough Council, and NRM North through funding from the Tasmanian Government.