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Can a cat ever truly be happy living indoors?

Discussion in 'Cat Chat' started by Clare T, Oct 26, 2020.


  1. Clare T

    Clare T PetForums Newbie

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    I recently lost my cat, she died as a result of being hit by a car . It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through as I loved her so much. I’d only had her for 6 months, she was supposed to be an indoor cat, but she kept crying to go out, so I eventually gave in. Wish I could turn the clocks back!! I would like to get another cat in the future, probably get 2 and keep indoors but worry whether they would have a fulfilling and happy life?
     
  2. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    @Clare T - I am very sorry to hear you lost your beloved cat to the road. It is a traumatic way to lose a cat.

    Personally I would never have an indoors-only cat, because I have witnessed over many years how hugely enriching it is to their lives for my cats to have some outdoor access.

    I live in a rural area in a quiet cul de sac, and have always had roaming cats but I decided when I got my 2 youngest cats 7 yrs ago I would cat proof my garden before letting them out at age one year old. I did this, it didn't cost a huge amount of money as I bought self install kits and my OH and I put them up.

    My garden is medium sized and has lots of large shrubs, trees, secret places and high up resting spots for the cats. I also have a gazebo in the garden for the cats. My 2 youngest spend nearly all their time in the garden in good weather, only coming in for meals, or to use their litter trays.

    Some people prefer to build an outdoor enclosure for their cats which they can access through a cat flap on the back door, or through a ground floor window.

    There is a pinned thread on these boards with lots of information on cat proofed gardens; also cat enclosures, from members who have installed them in their gardens. .

    https://www.petforums.co.uk/threads/cat-runs-cat-proofed-gardens.211361/
     
  3. buffie

    buffie Mentored by Meeko

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    So sorry to read that you lost your cat in such sad circumstances ,I can understand your concern now for any future cats you may have.
    If the choice is simply "indoors or free roaming" then I would always go with indoors ,
    I would never allow any animal to free roam regardless of the area I lived in as there are always dangers lurking which outweigh any possible gain that might be achieved from it .
    I have a run built in the garden for my lad which has a tunnel connected to the house allowing him to come and go freely whilst I'm around
    If cats have never experienced the outside world they cant possibly miss it.
    Cats are curious creatures and no matter what block you put in their way they will want to look behind it, this applies to room doors / cupboard doors/windows the list is endless .
    So it stands to reason that the outside world is no different to the inside of a cupboard , it is just something they feel needs to be investigated.
    It will mean spending a bit more quality time helping them to burn up their energy in play , interactive toys and cat tree's etc for climbing .

    .
     
  4. Tigermoon

    Tigermoon PetForums VIP

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    As someone who has never allowed any cat to have free roaming outdoor access since the loss of one to a car 25 years ago, I can hand-on-heart say that yes they can have a very happy and fulfilling life as indoor only, but the buck stops with you the owner to ensure that you provide them with adequate enrichment.

    Basically you just need to offer the chance for them to perform behaviours that they would when outside, namely hunting and climbing. The climbing part is easy, as there are now a vast array of cat trees and climbers to pick from. The hunting side is obviously more difficult to cater for, but interactive play with toys and games allowing the cat to go through the stalk, chase, pounce and bite actions will all be a part of of it. A variety of toys that you swap every so often keeps the interest up, and some cats learn to play with treat balls which can keep them entertained for quite some time. Having two cats means that they can play with each other, which again helps to fulfil the chase and pounce behaviours.

    If you have a suitable garden you could cat proof it, or IMHO better still build a catio for them to go into. This will allow some outdoor access without the incumbent risks that usually go with it. Just be aware that once you have taken that step and allowed a cat out, it will always consider it a part of its domain and wish to continue having access to it so make sure you have decided which way you are going to manage it and have everything ready beforehand.
     
  5. Arny

    Arny PetForums VIP

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    All my cats up until the most recent 2 have had access to outside 24/7.
    I now have two indoor pedigree cats and feel they're perfectly happy inside. I can leave the door open to accept parcels even when the courier has to bring it in etc and they have no desire to get out.
    I have an awkward garden that would be incredibly difficult to dog proof let alone cat proof but in an ideal world that would be nice.
    I don't really see the point in outdoor enclosure's as to me they're often smallish things stuck to the house (there are exceptions and some on here have beautiful ones), my cats can get the same experience looking out the window especially as my house is reasonably sized so plenty of space to wandered around in.
     
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  6. mrs phas

    mrs phas karma is a funny old thing

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    My son's cat has been a house cat all his life
    Even now his brother has passed, calcifer shows no want to go outside
    Yes, he sits on the window sill and watches the world go by, but that doesn't mean he wants to join it out there
    He has a full and enriched life with Adam as his biggest toy, he has cat towers and scratchers, a myriad of toys, access to all rooms, so more room than if he just had a catio outside (not a choice, even if Adam would consider it, he has a shared HA communal garden) there are tunnels and caves in all the rooms
    And most important of all
    He is safe from all things outside, not just your normal run of the mill things like dogs, people and cars, but things we don't think about everyday eg, spilled antifreeze, hunters (we live in an area with lots of autumn shoots going on), climbing into trucks and ending up miles away, "well meaning" neighbours taking them to CP or other rescues as strays etc
    Calcifer (and Harvey, rip) live a cosseted pampered life and are all the better for it
     
  7. ChaosCat

    ChaosCat PetForums VIP

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    I know cats who are totally happy indoors and cats who needed to go outside though they haven’t known it before- there I must disagree with @buffie.

    Both Annie and Mojo are high energy cats who could never be fully happy with indoor life, though they both got multiple very energetic play times. Mojo was a pacing, shrieking, stressed and stressing bundle of unreleased energy and now that he has free access to the garden whenever he wants it he is a totally chilled and relaxed boy, still vocal but in a conversational tone, not shrieking his frustrations out.

    Annie was restlessly running around, up and down the furniture and the cat trees- and she had a
    lot of space inside, not a small studio. Now that she has the garden she is still a busy busy lady, but a lot calmer when she is inside.

    So if you look for cats you want to live happily inside look for calm cats, ask closely about their energy levels. Some cats will never be fully happy inside so you better pick wisely.
     
    #7 ChaosCat, Oct 26, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2020
  8. buffie

    buffie Mentored by Meeko

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    I won't disagree with what you say but I would question why you assume that they needed to be free roaming to be happy .Could it not be that what they needed was a more enriched area to explore which could be achieved either indoors or in a cat proof / cat run setting
    If they have never experienced what the outdoor life is why would they need it .
     
  9. ChaosCat

    ChaosCat PetForums VIP

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    I can vouch for both Annie and Mojo having had as good an indoor playground as possible. They both need to climb high and race the length of our big garden and they sure use its old big trees. They might have coped with a small run or an enclosure but to fully live their lives and release their energy they need all the space and adventure a bigger than ordinary garden offers.

    Of course they might have led happy indoor lives with a gym full of climbing options and hiding spots. All I say is that they are both so high energy that life in ordinary indoor spaces wouldn’t have been enough.

    There certainly are cats who have happy indoor lives- never said anything different. BUT- I always cringe when it‘s said that all cats can be happy indoors. It doesn’t hurt to ask for calmer cats when you know that you want them to stay inside.
     
    #9 ChaosCat, Oct 26, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2020
  10. Chaddycat

    Chaddycat PetForums Senior

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    I think it depends on the cat. Chadwick is a homely boy. Has the chance to go out and goes in the garden for about 3 minutes then comes back in. I imagine Rue will be different. He was desperate to get outside and would bolt for the door everytime it was open. So we have supervised time in the garden for now until he is older.

    If he wants to free roam when he is a bit older I shall let him, and then worry constantly! Lol I have a graveyard backing off from my garden so he will probably be climing the trees there I don't think he'd like the front though. I was holding him today while waiting for the gas man to come in and a little lady when bombing it past on a mobility scooter. Rue pooped himself and legged it! Lol x
     
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  11. ewelsh

    ewelsh PetForums VIP

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    I have a very odd set up here. 1 cat Libby is completely content being indoors only, she had and has no interest in going outside, she is more timid of nature, she has plenty of rooms to roam around, toys and beds every where. She sits watching the birds Hannibal Lecter comes to mind, she has never been stressed plus we have 4 dogs bounding around. She is extremely loving and loves human company.

    My other girl was found as a dumped kitten, she was meant to be a playmate for Libby indoors. Lottie was NOT staying indoors, she was climbing the walls to get outside, it was Fort Knox for nearly 2 years when I knew she was becoming unhappy. I waited for spring time and lighter nights and let her outside and trained her to come when called. We live very rural only one long lane to our house so no real traffic threat, but even in the countryside there are risks. I strong believe if I had let her out at a younger age Lottie would have ventured far. Lottie is a true hunter, she has a fantastic life and she loves being outside. We have a few acres yet she stays close enough or in our enclosed garden. She does not seek human company or affection from us unless she wants feeding. :rolleyes:

    I really think it’s down to the cats character so if I lived near a road and had a cat who needed to go outside I would cat proof the garden.
     
  12. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    Of course they can. I've never had free roaming cats. Even rescued adult strays adjusted to indoor living. Provide them with adequate mental and physical stimulation, including a variety of places to climb and leap and sleep and scratch and toilet, put perches and beds in front of windows for Cat TV, feed a low carb wet (and/or raw) diet, no kibble, ever.

    Happy cats!
     
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  13. ChaosCat

    ChaosCat PetForums VIP

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    Sorry but still disagreeing! Both Annie and Mojo were provided with all this and still needed more activity and stimulation.

    I don’t want to turn this into an indoor/outdoor discussion.

    All I say is that it’s not fair on a potential cat and a potential owner if you don’t choose a cat that’s meant for indoor life accordingly.
    If you know that you want indoor cats look for calmer ones. That’s all.
     
  14. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    Since most of my cats have been rescued as strays I didn't "ask" for any type of cat. Never have had a problem with a cat adjusting to a safe happy indoor life, whether they came to me as adults or kittens.

    Not worth the risk, or the worry.
     
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  15. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    Gives them another spot, and another view point. Large or small, any kind of run can be a beneficial addition for a cat. :)
     
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  16. ChaosCat

    ChaosCat PetForums VIP

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    I’ll get out of this discussion now.

    Have said what I wanted to say, still think it is good advice.
     
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  17. spotty cats

    spotty cats PetForums VIP

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    I've never had free roaming cats and never would.

    We currently have one of the highest energy breeds, they are perfectly fine indoors with their needs met by floor-ceiling cat trees, cat wheels, lots of toys, and interactive play sessions.
     
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  18. urbantigers

    urbantigers PetForums VIP

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    Mosi and Kito are both indoor cats (completely - no outdoor enclosure or enclosed garden). They are both quite lively - Mosi especially so - and they can certainly run around and let off a lot of steam indoors. I’d be unwise to acquire any valuable ornaments, but generally I just let them run around and play as much as they want and then join in when they are bored with each other. They do play a lot. And sleep a lot. And demand attention a lot. Happy is a difficult word to use in relation to cats I think. Whilst it seems simple enough at face value, I’m not entirely sure how it should be applied to cats. There’s a level of anthropomorphism in there. Cats don’t think about whether they are happy. I will put my hand up and admit that my boys do not get the environmental enrichment and stimulation they would get from outdoors. I’m sure they would enjoy being outdoors, especially Mosi. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t have sufficient stimulation indoors to be content. It’s hard work at times keeping these 2 occupied but we manage it. I’d say my boys are happy. But I would, wouldn’t I? ;)
     
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  19. Whompingwillow

    Whompingwillow PetForums VIP

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    Are you trying to say our smallish thing stuck to a house is pointless? :p We think it’s the best thing ever :D love Kiki and molly
    29DC3591-7116-4C78-94C1-2DBFAF09CCBE.jpeg
     
    #19 Whompingwillow, Oct 26, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2020
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  20. jasperthecat

    jasperthecat My best buddies.

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    I have two cats. One is three and half years old and the other two years old. Nether have ever been outdoors and to compensate for being indoors 24/7, over the latter part of summer in my spare time in between bouts of bad weather and illness, I thought I'd build them quite a plush Catio, accessible from the lounge to allow them access to fresh air and somewhere extra to explore. It wasn't cheap to build though that is neither here nor there as I loved doing it but quite frankly it's looking like it was a complete waste of time and money as I have a struggle to get them to even go into it and we've got to virtually push them out.
    Ollie the youngest likes the idea of watching the birds coming down for the food put out for them and will spend a little time out there but Jasper isn't bothered as it's too cold for him. To say it was a waste of time might be premature but if by next summer, they show the same lack of interest then I'll give it to my daughter for her cats to use as it was purposely built in sections so it could taken down quickly and relocated if we found they didn't like it.

    My two have never tried to escape from our home which I've no doubt they could have done if they really wished to and the same applies when we take them with us to our caravan. They have full access to every room in the house with the exception of the kitchen in which they're only allowed if chaperoned and are very happy in their own environment and don't even think about going out!
    I believe I read somewhere, that statistically 25% of outdoor free roaming cats in their lifetime will be injured often seriously or even killed as a consequence of going outdoor unchaperoned. A risk I personally would never even consider worth taking irrespective of whether my cats are pedigree or they were non-pedigree. Their breeding means nothing to me in that way and I'd give the same care irrespective of their blood line.

    If cats are to be kept as indoor cats then while it's probably better to have specific breeds which tend to be more suited to being raised indoors, it's by no means essential and millions of non-pedigree cats are indoor cats with no problems. However, it's absolutely essential that owners interact with them and vigorous hunting and chasing play is an essential part of owning indoor cats to stimulate and satisfy their hunting instincts. Without vigorous play they will soon become unfit, bored and most likely overweight. They also need lots of stimulation to stave off boredom so if someone plans to get an indoor cat and then expects it to entertain itself then I'd say forget about getting a cat and get a pet snake or other reptile and leave it until until one has the time to give an indoor cat the attention it requires.

    I was at home full time even before the Corona virus struck and then my OH started working from home and still is now so we're now both at home 24/7 and my two would be utterly lost if neither of us was at home during the working day. They follow us around constantly and other than when napping they have a need to be in the same room with us at all times. Our home is their home and we are their humans.

    For the past 60 minutes my OH has been playing with our two and they're both sharing the play together. They've each had the best part of an hour of leaping, pouncing and racing around like lunatics so they've had a good spell of exercise and are now resting. We do that twice a day with them.

    I'd say my two are very happy cats with no issues whatsoever as a result of not going outdoors.
     
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