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Healthy Pets

Keeping an Indoor Cat Happy

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

If kitty uses the box consistently then refuses it, the culprit could be a dirty box, a new brand of litter, or a too-noisy litter box area. Your cat may have been frightened near the box, or it could be suffering from a medical condition such as a urinary tract disease, urine crystals, or bladder stones.

Stopping kitty's dashes for the door. The lure of another cat or a tree full of birds may sometimes be too much for a contented indoor cat. If you find your cat running for the door or squeezing through open windows, you can discourage kitty's escape attempts with these tips:

  • Have your cat neutered if your door-dodger is male. Male cats can detect in-heat females from blocks away, says cat trainer Alice Rhea in her book Good Cats, Bad Habits. So you'll need to reduce his interest.
  • Make the outside a scary place, suggests Rhea and the pros at the ASPCA. Plan for the next time kitty dashes to the door by having someone stationed outside with an air horn or a pot and spoon. Then be sure your Houdini is met with a lot of very loud noises when he runs out the door. Repeat with each door over several days, and pretty soon your cat will decide it's much more predictable inside. 
  • Be sure all window screens fit tightly and can't be popped out with persistent pushing. 
  • Try distracting your kitty by rolling a toy across the floor as you come in or go out the door.

Keeping the peace when there's more than one indoor cat. If yours is a multi-cat household, be sure there's enough of everything to keep each cat happy and content. That means:

  • A litter box for every cat. Few things make a feline grumpier than waiting in line for the litter box. 
  • At least one bed or perch per cat, and be sure these are scattered throughout the house so your fuzzy companions can have alone time when they need it.
  • Multiple sources of water and food so every cat can eat or quench its thirst without fear of being ambushed by another cat.

It's in your power to give your indoor cat a good, long life. It doesn't take much, but the payoff is great: A safe, contented, and happy cat.

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Reviewed on February 26, 2010

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