Keeping your indoor cat happy

Did you know that the average lifespan for an outdoor cat (on average) is only 3 to 5 years while indoor cats average 13-17?

There are more than 1.2 million cats in New Zealand and, of these, just 135,000 are inside cats (11 per cent)*. While this is an increase on 2015 when 8 per cent of cats were inside only, it is a relatively low percentage compared to other countries like the United States and Australia.

This also begs the question: if having an indoor cat increases their lifespan by eight years, why aren’t there more inside cats? Well, having your cat live indoors does have shortcomings. If this is something you are thinking about, then you will need to make sure your indoor cat doesn’t become frustrated, lethargic or depressed. To prevent these issues, make sure your cat has places in the home where they can hide, chase, climb, jump and pounce.

Try some of these suggestions to keep your cat happy and entertained indoors. • Spend time playing with your cat throughout the day. Try breaking playtime up into smaller segments. This will help work off any excess energy they may have.

• Rotate toys so your cat always has something new and novel to play with.


• Open a window that has a secure screen to allow your cat some fresh air. If you hang a bird feeder within sight of this window, you will find your cat staying entertained for hours on end as he watches birds come and go.


• Cats like to eat green things, so plant some pots of indoor greens for your cat to munch on, such as cat grass from seeds (oat, rye, wheat, barley) or catnip.


• Give your cat a scratching post with high perches and place it near doorways or windows.


• Cats are auditory hunters so get creative and get toys that make buzzing/chirping noises.


• Make use of food puzzles. In the wild, cats normally have to work for their food through hunting. Food puzzles can be a nice substitute for hunting behaviour and provide cognitive stimulation.


• Provide multiple litter boxes around the house for your cat.


• Teach your cat tricks using positive reinforcement clicker training.

Risks of letting your cat outdoors include: • cat fights • traffic • exposure to diseases and parasites • extreme weather issues • poisoning • pet theft • animal cruelty.

*Companion Animals in New Zealand 2020 Report


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