Cats kept indoors

Cats’ Needs

Cats are adaptable and can live in the most different of circumstances. Nevertheless, their ability to adapt should not be overtaxed in order to ensure their well being. The following radical but earnest statement of a veterinary is food for thought: It’s preferable to have a cat that will only survive for one year, if allowed to roam outdoors than to have a cat vegetating behind lock and bar for fifteen years.


The fate of special breeds?

Often, in line with their market value, special breeds are not allowed outdoors out of fear of theft or accidents. The cat, however, could not care about its family tree but is curious by nature and does not want to spend the whole day dozing out of boredom.


Protection against traffic

Not only special breeds are permanently held indoors, in houses or apartments. Many cats live along streets with heavy traffic and would thus be endangered if let outside. Such cats, however, are also entitled to change in life. If a cat cannot make experiences because it is not allowed outdoors, its owner must ensure compensation. But how?


An interesting life indoors

There are three main possibilities to keep cats occupied and entertained: 1) every form of social contact; 2) occupational activities derived from a cat’s natural hunting instinct; 3) observing the activities in its surroundings.


1) Social contacts. Most cats are not loners but social animals. Correspondingly, they must be allowed contact with other cats. Contrary to a cat that is allowed to roam around outdoors, cats held indoors are unable to meet neighborhood cats and therefore require an indoors companion in the same household. Another good possibility to combat boredom is to ensure contact with human family members or other pets (often dogs) in the same household. It is not enough to buy cat expensive albeit lifeless toys. Owners must spend time with their cats every day and take into account which forms of attention their cat prefers. Some cats love dynamic games of chase, whereas others just want to be stroked or talked to.


2) Discovering, finding and hunting prey. Cats are born with a hunting instinct and thus motivated to hunt. There are hundreds of different possibilities to encourage this form of activity. Hunting games become all the more attractive if the „prey“ is hidden or moved. Cats also react to exciting (quiet) noises.


Many cats remain kittenish up until old age, which means that they maintain their pleasure in hunting games despite the best possible nutrition – provided the games are not repetitive. Owners must ensure variety. The simplest games such as tagging a cork on a string awaken their hunting or playing instincts. Everything that moves can trigger hunting behavior. Objects such as boxes or bags that are novel are also interesting (What does it smell like? What is in it? Can it be unpacked? Eaten? Made to move?)


Discovery and hunting games are not only highly entertaining to cats but also to their owners.


3) Observing everything going on around them: Cats are not constantly up to wild activities but also spend many hours a day resting. They do not always sleep but also spend a lot of time in an attentive state, waiting to experience something exciting. Cats adore window seats with a view as well as higher seats.


How much living space does a cat need that is kept indoors?

Even if a cat allowed to roam around outside benefits from more space than a cat not allowed to do so, the size of an apartment is not decisive. What is decisive is that there are no taboo zones and no closed doors. Being able to move from one room to the next is especially important to cats because a surprise might be waiting behind the next door.


Last but not least

A cat not allowed to go outdoors must be given the possibility to sharpen its claws without being punished. It does not need a large and expensive scratching post: leftover carpet pieces or a scratching board are sufficient. Cat grass is indispensable to cats kept indoors who need it to retch out hair swallowed. Cats must also have permanent access to fresh water.


so much going on outside

Katze am Fenster
© AlexQ/

Zurich Animal Protection Association - Offers


Further information