Indoor Cat Needs

INDOOR CATS HAVE BASIC NEEDS FOR THEIR LONG-TERM HEALTH. IF THESE NEEDS ARE NOT MET, THEY CAN BECOME STRESSED AND EXHIBIT INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIORS.

Remember, unless they exhibit this behavior it is very difficult for us to recognize when they are stressed. Cats have a superior sense of smell and hearing. Stress can occur due to strong or strange smells or sounds, which are undetectable or insignificant to us. Listed here are things an "ideal" house for cats would include.

Indoor cat needs


Refuge

Provide a space they can call their own in a quiet, low-traffic area. A cat carrier or a crate with a soft pad inside works well. You can include food and water and a few toys if you like. This will be your cat’s refuge. It’s where they can retreat to when they need quiet time alone. Some other ideas of a refuge include a cardboard box or raised cat perch. When the cat is in their refuge, members of the household should know to let them be. There should be at least as many safe places for a cat to retreat to as there are cats in the household.

Litter Boxes

Cats eliminate to fulfill a fundamental need as well as to mark their territory. Indoor cats consider your home their territory. To help ensure they don’t feel the need to eliminate in improper areas of the house, we want the cat to have a positive experience with the litter box. Here are some important qualities of litter boxes: They need to be “scooped” every day with litter added as needed. They need to be cleaned with soap and hot water once a week.

There should be one litter box for each cat plus one extra box located in different areas of the house. Cats that are socially affiliated (groom, play, and rest together) may be more willing to share litter boxes. They should be placed in quiet, private areas. Place litter boxes away from appliances and air ducts that could come on unexpectedly, and locate them such that another animal (or human) cannot sneak up on the cat (this goes for food dishes too).

Bigger is better. Most commercial litter boxes are too small. You might consider using a low storage container. It should be longer than the cat and the cat should be able to turn around comfortably in it. Uncovered boxes tend to be preferred, but a covered box may be ok if it is cleaned every day (because cats are so sensitive to smell!) Unscented litter is best. Most cats prefer fine-grained litter.


Additional Items to Provide

Perches. Cats feel safe on a perch. It allows them to observe things from a distance. Many cats even prefer sleeping on perches. You can purchase a cat perch or you can just place a piece of furniture in front of a window, so your cat can look outside. They may just use something in the house on their own as a perch. Just make sure they have a couple to use.

Toys. Cats enjoy exhibiting predatory type behavior, like running and pouncing. Toys also reduce boredom. Some good ideas are balls, fake birds, mice, or bugs. You can rotate them so they don’t become bored with the same toys.

Scratching post or something else to scratch. Scratching is a natural behavior for cats. They scratch to stretch their muscles, shed old cuticle on their nails, sharpen their nails, and leave scent marks. This is why even declawed cats may exhibit the behavior. Cats that scratch chair legs or the corner of the couch may prefer a vertical scratching post. Cats that scratch carpets may prefer a horizontal one. Make sure they are stabilized. Wherever your cat seems to want to scratch is a good place for a scratching post.

Food and water. Make sure the food and water is reasonably fresh as cats are particular this way. It should not be placed too close to the litterbox as the smells from the box can detract from the food.

Interaction

People and most other mammals are pack species. Cats are an independent species. This means that they prefer to come to us on their own terms, they usually prefer shorter, frequent visits, and they see shouting and punishment as life-threatening. Usually you want to allow a cat to come to you for interaction.

The majority of cats really benefit from playtime with their owner. It offers an opportunity for your cat to fulfill their natural predatory behavior as well as exercise. Cats like toys that squeak, chirp, jitter, swing, or vibrate, because they act like moving meals. Play can be stimulated with the use of a toy mouse that is pulled across the floor or feathers on a wand that is waved through the air.

Cats need to be able to capture the prey to prevent frustration. Food puzzles or food balls are also fun for them. Provide positive, consistent, and predictable human interaction.

Some cats enjoy being brushed. Some cats will even sit on your lap for extended periods (but if this isn’t their preference, that’s ok!). Cats that were socialized with humans as kittens tend to be the most interactive Try to let your cat determine the type and degree of interaction. You’ll soon learn what they prefer!


Normal behaviors of a healthy cat:


confidently explores its living space, including climbing and perching

initiates brief interactions with others

uses the litter box 2-4 times per day

grooms itself 2-3 times per day

sleeps in view in favored places


A lot more information and tips can be found at indoorpet.osu.edu/cats.