Health Care for Indoor Cats
Veterinarian Reviewed on January 23, 2013 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
It is no surprise to find that indoor cats live longer than their outdoor cousins. Indoor cats are not exposed to weather changes, certain poisons, unfriendly dogs, certain infectious diseases or car accidents. An indoor cat may live 12 to 18 years whereas an outdoor cat may only live 2 or 3 years.
Indoor cats still have challenges and health concerns that may be different from those kitties that live out doors. Indoor cats still have “cat instincts” that tell them to hunt and scratch and chase prey. If they are unable to do this kind of thing, the cat may become depressed, bored or even ill.
There are some things you can do to help your indoor cat adjust to his life.
Keep Your Indoor Cat Entertained
Cats need to play and be distracted. If a cat can see birds from a cat perch or chow down on cat grass that you have planted for him, he will be much happier. Scratching posts are a must for indoor cats even if they are declawed. They still have the instinct to sharpen their claws and like a spot of their own. Make sure your cat has lots of cat toys and that some of them are full of cat nip. Play with your cat with a laser pointer, a feather on a string or some other cat toy. Hide treats around your house or buy treat dispensing toys. Some kitties love cat videos with fish, mice or other distracting things to watch or chase. A fish tank can be great fun for a cat as long as he can not get to the fish! I know of some people who have built special outdoor cat enclosures so the cat can have the benefit of going outdoors with none of the risks.
Keep Your Cat’s Environment Clean
Be sure your cat’s environment is kept clean particularly his litter box, Remember you need one more litter box than you have cats so if you have 1 cat then you need 2 litter boxes, if you have 2 cats then 3 litter boxes and so on. Do not use scented litter as cats really dislike it. Use clumping litter if possible and clean regularly. No one likes a dirty bathroom! Have multiple cat beds and food and water dishes, particularly if you have multiple cats.
Schedule Veterinarian Visits
Take your cat to the veterinarian at least once yearly. He or she may not require vaccines but your cat still needs a yearly examination. If your cat is not eating, losing weight, vomiting or hiding a lot, he is probably in need of veterinary attention. Indoor cats do get sick despite the popular myth that they do not!
With a few adjustments, your indoor cat can live a long, happy and healthy life!
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan