Following the launch of its Keeping Cats Safe at Home initiative, RSPCA NSW shared some tricks on how to ensure your feline friend stays happy and healthy.
If you’re on the fence about having your cat inside, or you want to make the transition but don’t know where to start, the below tips are for you.
1. Timing is everything
Transitioning to staying at home will take time, so remember to take it slow and be patient. Allowing your cat plenty of time to get used to a new routine can help minimise frustration and increase your chance of success. It can help to start by keeping your cat inside at night and gradually increasing the time they spend at home during the day. Taking advantage of times when your cat will naturally prefer to be inside can also make the transition easier, such as moving house, feeding time or when it’s cold outside.
2. Microchip your cat
Whether your cat already lives inside or you’re beginning the transition process, it is vital to register and microchip them, should they escape or become lost. Cats can often go unclaimed from shelters and pounds, as there is no way to contact their owner if they have no form of identification.
3. Responsible outdoor time
Being an indoor cat does not mean that your furry friend can’t ever go outside again. Outdoor time can be provided using cat enclosures or cat-proof fencing so that they can get some fresh air and soak up some sun, all while being safe from danger and disease. Some cats can even be trained to explore outside on a harness.
4. Cats need to scratch
If you don’t provide your cat with scratching surfaces, they will find their own (most likely your furniture). Some cats prefer horizontal scratching surfaces, others vertical, and some like both.
5. Provide environments to hide and explore
Cats are middle-order predators, which means they can be both predator and prey. This explains a lot of their behaviour – they need to hunt, but they also need to feel safe and are always prepared to run, hide, get up high and fight to defend themselves if required.
6. Provide opportunities for predatory play
Cats evolved to hunt and eat small prey throughout the day, so eating one or two large meals out of a bowl can be unsatisfying. You can provide an enriching hunting experience by hiding or scattering food, using puzzle feeder toys, and feeding small amounts throughout the day.
7. Keep cuddle times short and gentle
Cat skin is much more sensitive than ours, so pats can be overwhelming at times. Felines prefer gentle interactions and it’s important to build your cat’s trust by allowing them to initiate and control physical contact.
8. Ensure your cat is desexed
As the temperature rises, feline intake at RSPCA NSW increases by eight times, and up to 500 kittens can come through our doors each week. In just two years, a pair of undesexed cats can lead to 20,000 kittens. Desexing is vitally important to prevent unwanted pregnancies and keeps your beloved feline friend healthy.