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Keeping cats indoors

Rehomed cat sitting indoors in living room © Andrew Forsyth / RSPCA Photolibrary

There is no definitive knowledge regarding whether being an indoor-only cat is better/worse than one who goes outdoors. You must meet all your cat's needs whether they’re an indoor cat or not. However, indoor-only cats have additional needs to meet to ensure they’re healthy and happy.


Cats can adapt well to indoor life if they’re kept inside from an early age. Cats that are used to going outside may find adapting more difficult. We wouldn’t recommend keeping cats that are used to going outside, as ‘indoor-only cats’, except for health reasons. If rehoming a kitten intending to keep it indoors, consider adopting a sibling-pair so they keep each other company.


Indoor environments can become predictable and boring, leading to stress, inactivity and  obesity. It’s important you provide cats with everything they need.


When keeping indoor-only cats:

  • Provide a litter tray in a quiet place; clean it regularly. Cats are often reluctant to use a dirty tray or one located in a busy area.
     
  • Ensure your cat has enough space. Indoor-only cats should have access to several rooms.
     
  • Allow your cat access to two types of resting place, one at floor level, enclosed on three sides and another higher one with a good view. It’s important the higher position is safe and won’t allow your cat to fall, as this could cause injury.
     
  • Provide scratching posts in several locations so they can mark territory/strengthen muscles/sharpen claws.
     
  • Provide opportunities for daily exercise to stay fit and healthy.
     
  • Provide/create new ways for your cat to stay stimulated and active, both physically and mentally. Cats can become frustrated and bored with indoor-only lifestyles.
     
  • As your cat won’t have the freedom to interact with people/other animals outside, you become its main companion; make plenty of time to interact. You shouldn’t leave cats alone for long periods during the day.


An indoor-only lifestyle may appear safer for cats as they’re protected from dangers outdoors. Indoor environments can be equally dangerous; cats can be injured by household accidents. Take care! Ensure your home is a safe and suitable environment for cats.