Some cats live indoors due to illness; some people prefer to keep their cats indoors because of lifestyle or living conditions. Either way, it's important to ensure your cat is given as much enrichment and stimulation as possible to avoid any problems.
Cats can live very happily indoors but only if their owner goes to the trouble of satisfying their normal behavioural needs.
The main problem faced by the indoor cat is the lack of opportunities to display normal behaviour. The cat is a natural hunter and if she can't go out she be may be frustrated and develop behaviour which mimcs this activity.
If you want to keep an indoor cat content, you'll have to be creative and provide new toys and games to keep your cat stimulated and exercised, physically and mentally. Kittens and cats love newspaper tents, cardboard boxes and paper bags, not to mention cat play centres, fishing rod toys, laser pointers, etc., which encourage stalking and pouncing.
Cats may develop behaviour problems if they're stressed by the lack of opportunity to express their normal behaviour. They also have the problem of being unable to escape from a stressful situation or another cat which they find difficult to deal with.
Make sure that you have regular visitors and that life is not too quiet, especially when you bring home a kitten, because this is what it will come to see as normal. Because the cat's whole world may be made up of a couple of rooms in a flat which it knows inside out, it can become hypersensitive to change.
Human or animal visitors or even changes in household routine can introduce a potentially huge change to the cat's day-to-day environment, and can therefore cause stress.
Indoor cats, especially when young, are likely to have quite an impact on your furniture and fittings. Try not to be too house-proud about the ensuing damage. Prevent rather than regret - move all the ornaments and imagine that you have a toddler that can fly! Provide places where cats can have a 'free-for-all'.
It is important to cat-proof your home carefully as an inquisitive kitten can get though a very small hole.
Your cat will need to act out its natural behaviour, such as sharpening its claws, within your home. Outdoor cats usually use a tree or garden post. An indoor cat must be provided with a good scratch post and even with this it is likely to use the furniture occasionally too. Invest in some good nail clippers as your cat's claws may not wear down as quickly as they would if it went outside and walked on hard surfaces. Long claws can become snagged in carpets and upholstery.
Monitor your cat's food intake if it is tending to put on excess weight, either through lack of exercise or if is it overeating because of boredom.
A cat that goes outdoors will nibble grass and herbs as part of its diet. It is believed that eating vegetation helps cats to regurgitate hairballs. You can meet this need by providing the cat with an indoor window box.
Grass, catnip (Nepeta), thyme, sage, parsley, wheat and oats can all be sown indoors in a potting compost. Sow seeds every couple of weeks to provide a fresh supply for your cat. Our IAZ practitioner can advise you about other herbs or oils that might be specifically beneficial to your cat.