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Keeping an Indoor Cat Happy

Make your kitty's world safe and stimulating with these easy-to-implement tips.

Health and Hygiene

Part of keeping your indoor cat happy is keeping kitty healthy and maintaining a safe, clean environment. The pros offer these tips:

Know the signs of sickness. It's in a cat's nature to hide illness, the better to go unnoticed by predators. That's why it's up to you to keep a close eye on your indoor cat, looking for signs he may be sick.

  • Your cat could be ill if he is coughing, panting, refusing water or food, sleeping more than usual, vomiting, sneezing, or losing weight. If your cat exhibits any of these or other odd symptoms -- or you just have a sense something's wrong -- play it safe and take kitty to the vet.
  • Remember that your indoor cat needs yearly exams, just like you do. Regular check-ups help your vet keep kitty healthy by catching problems early.

Teach kitty how to use a litter box . An indoor cat needs an indoor toilet. Fortunately, litter box training for most cats isn't very hard, especially if you begin when kitty's young. And if you've adopted an older cat who was once litter box-trained, it's a good bet kitty will soon get back into the old habit. Here are tips to help get a new cat trained to use a box:

  • Use unscented litter in a plastic litter tray.
  • Place the litter box in a quiet, easy-to-access place. 
  • Place your cat in the litter box and praise kitty when he or she sniffs or scratches in the box. You can give kitty the idea of what to do by gently taking her front paws and showing her how to scratch the litter. 
  • Place kitty in the box several times a day, praising him, and showing him what to do if he needs the nudge. Always let him jump out of the box when he's ready.
  • If she has an accident somewhere else in the house, don't punish her (it won't help kitty learn), but do pick up the waste with a paper towel and put that in the litter box. Then place kitty in the box.
  • When you can't supervise a still-untrained kitty for a while, put the litter box, food, water, and toys in a bathroom, small room, or large dog crate. Then confine the cat in this space.

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