Keeping a cat indoors is not an act of cruelty but you will need to provide certain things to mimic the outdoor environment for your cat to thrive. It is obviously natural for a cat to roam freely out of doors. You may, however, have no choice but to keep a cat permanently indoors, either because you live next to a dangerous main road, or because you live in an upper-floor flat, which makes it impossible for the cat to gain access to the outside world. If you keep a cat indoors from his early kittenhood, he will simply accept that your home is his territory and will not wish to go outside.
A surprising number of cat owners succeed in keeping their cat safely indoors, and have no difficulty persuading the cat that his territory extends only as far as the front door.
It is not, on the whole, difficult to keep a cat indoors, and any flat dwellers who have no easy access to the outdoors, or people who live next to a busy main road, often have no alternative. It is slightly more trouble keeping a cat indoors than letting him go out as he pleases, because you will have to keep a litter tray for the whole of the cat’s life, and changing litter daily for 12 to 15 years can be wearing, to say the least.
It is much more difficult to keep a cat indoors if he has been used to going out where he lived before he came to live with you, and you may find it difficult to prevent this
sort of cat escaping. If, on the other hand, a cat has been used to an indoor life since he was a small kitten, then he will think that his territory simply stops at the front door and will probably not even attempt to go out. The cat will enjoy being able to see the outside world, though, and even the smallest outdoor space, such as a balcony, will be welcome.
A cat that lives indoors will need to have exercise throughout his life to make sure he doesn’t become lethargic or lazy. You can encourage your cat to play by providing suitable toys for him, and even give him a cat scratch post as an outlet for indoor climbing and scratching.
Keeping a cat indoors on a permanent basis may be the only way to keep a cat safely if you live next to a busy main road.
If you get your cat a scratching post, this must be firmly fixed to a stable base, because if it topples over — even just the once — the cat may refuse ever to use it again.
You can encourage your cat to use his scratching post by sticking bits of catmint or other cat treats on it.
The only problem with a housebound cat, which is never allowed out, is that he may cause a lot of damage to your possessions and home furnishings. This is not intentional mischief but occurs because the cat needs to keep his claws in trim.
Cats need to scratch something with a rough texture to prevent their retractile claws growing endlessly. A scratching post is the best way to prevent your cat from scratching things in your home, although not all cats will get used to using one. If your cat’s claws get out of control, you will need to visit the vet for a trim about twice a year, and you should trim his claws yourself between visits.