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Teaching an Outdoor Cat How to Live Indoors

 by petbucket on 19 Mar 2015 |
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Whether you're thinking about adopting a stray or you want to make the cat you already feed into a more permanent member of your family, there are several advantages to bringing an outdoor cat into your home. The outside world is full of hazards for felines, including cars, predators, poisonous plants, and bad people, so it's no wonder why indoor cats have a much longer average lifespan than their outdoor counterparts. Of course, if Fluffy has always lived outside, you may (understandably) be nervous about how she will transition to a life confined by walls. Here is a look at some of the most important considerations when transitioning a cat to live indoors.
Litter Box Training
Perhaps the biggest transition when adapting a kitty to live inside is the prospect of litter box training. In the past, you may have never seen Fluffy do her business--outdoor cats often try to hide their bathroom habits entirely--and you may have no idea whether she will understand how to use a litter box (or ever care to). The best way to get your furry friend in the habit of using the box is to fill it with unscented kitty litter that closely resembles the soil she's probably been squatting on outside. You may even want to opt for sand or topsoil in the litter box while the kitty figures out what it's supposed to be used for. You can start by placing the box next to the door leading outside and try to coax the cat into using it whenever she has the urge to go out. After the habit starts to stick, slowly move the box a little each day until you get it to the place where you want it to stay.
Indoor Stimulation
Outdoor cats spend most of their days roaming the grounds and trying to find their next meal. Once this daily activity is taken away, your cat is likely to become bored if she's stuck inside all day. To combat the tedium, make sure to get plenty of cat toys that Fluffy can play with often. You should also clear a spot on the windowsill so that your kitty can spend part of the day surveying the world outside. Scratching posts and cat trees won't just protect your furniture--they will also keep your pal occupied and help her feel like this strange new place is actually her home.
Create a Safe Environment
Depending on whether or not your new indoor cat has ever been allowed through the front door before, she may or may not know how to feel safe inside your home. If your cat is skittish and constantly hiding when you first let her in, don't be too alarmed. It's a good idea to dedicate one room of your house as a "cat sanctuary." Put Fluffy's toys and litter box in this room and keep her shut in until she starts to feel more comfortable. You should fill this room (and any others in which your cat will be allowed to roam) with plenty of adequate hiding places, such as cardboard boxes, paper bags, or cat tunnels. Your kitty is more likely to be happy indoors if she feels like she can always find a safe place when necessary.
Break the Outdoor Habit
At first, you should be prepared for Fluffy to make a mad dash toward the front door every time it's opened. You need to use caution as you begin the transition until your cat realizes that the outside world is no longer her domain. If your kitty has a hard time getting used to the new situation, try making loud noises outside the door or spraying water from outside so that she starts to make negative associations with the great outdoors. You should also give your cat plenty of positive reinforcement for sticking inside. Try tossing a treat away from the door before you leave, and give Fluffy plenty of praise when she uses the litter box instead of yowling to get out.
While transitioning your cat to live indoors may sound like a difficult endeavor, there's a good chance that she will quickly discover the benefits of living with a roof over her head. Once the learning experience is complete, Fluffy will be kept safe inside, and you will have a feline friend you can look forward to seeing when you come home each day.


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