The idea that all cats need to roam outdoors has changed; many owners now provide a safe and suitable environment for their cat at home all day, every day.
Keeping your cat safe and happy at home means providing for all their needs, including many that may previously have been met by being outdoors.
Meeting these needs in other ways requires forward-thinking and a little imagination, but it's all worth it to ensure the safety of your beloved companion.
What is cat containment?
Containing your cat means completely preventing them from roaming away from your property at any time, day or night.
This can be achieved by keeping your cat indoors, or a combination of indoors and having a secure outdoor enclosure, or cat-proof fencing around an outdoor area.
In other words, keeping your cat safe at home and not letting them roam.
In some areas, cats are required by law to be contained.
Please check with your local council; regardless, cats can and do thrive at home (both indoors and outdoors) 24/7.
Why should I keep my cat contained?
By keeping your cat safe at home, you will:
- Reduce the risk of them getting sick, hurt or in an accident.
- Enjoy more quality time together.
- Reduce the risk they will stray and be lost, or impounded by the council.
- Minimise the risk they will harm or kill other animals.
- Prevent them from interacting with undesexed roaming cats.
- Avoid problems with your neighbours.
- Give them a better chance to enjoy a longer, healthier life.
Will my cat be happy staying at home?
Your newly adopted cat is more likely to settle in a contained lifestyle if you keep them at home from the beginning. Kittens generally adapt well to a contained lifestyle if they've been kept that way from an early age.
Newly adopted cats should always be contained during the settling-in period anyway, as they may run off or become lost if allowed outside.
If you have an existing cat who roams, then try to introduce them to being contained gradually (for example initially keep them inside at night, then gradually increase the time they're contained during the day). It's essential to provide lots of distractions like new hiding and resting areas in the house, a variety of toys, and extended play sessions every day.
The risks of roaming
Keeping your cat at home helps protect them from an increased risk of disease, injury or death from:
- Other cats
- Serious infection, such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
- Toxic plants or poisons (toxic chemicals, poison baits intended for other animals such as rats or foxes, or eating rats or mice that have ingested poison baits)
- Theft and abuse
- Ticks or fleas and related problems, such as flea allergy dermatitis or tick paralysis
- Venomous snakes and other native animals
All that I need to WFH
Your cat can adjust to and thrive in containment so long as they have their five basic needs met.
Food, water and litter all come as common-sense requirements, but the remaining two necessities are also key.
A place to scratch will keep your feline feisty while having fun. And, with a designated scratching post or pole, you can spare your couch!
Additionally, resting and hiding places are key; although we can see the allure of the great outdoors, it's simply a space to snooze or be alone that most cats crave, so by providing both within the security of your home their needs can be met.
Living in harmony
Keeping your cat happy and healthy without roaming from home will help ensure harmony for everyone - you, your cat, neighbours and local wildlife.