Adopting an indoor cat for the first time is fun and exciting but you may be worried about giving them a good introduction to your home. Indoor cats rely on their owners not only to keep them safe and fed, but also entertained and mentally enriched throughout the day. Keeping cats indoors permanently can be more difficult than having an outdoor cat and there are some unique things to take into consideration. Here is a list of 9 things we think you should know before adopting an indoor cat. You can also read our indoor and outdoor cat comparison post if you still unsure if you want to keep your new cat inside of the house all the time.
1 Check that your house is appropriate for your cat
If you are renting make sure that your contract allows for you to adopt a cat. You should consider if you are prepared to pay for wear and tear that your cat can cause to your floors. When cats run they can leave marks in wood flooring which can be costly to repair or replace. Cats have also been known to tear up carpet or scratch furniture in the house.
If your house has spaces a cat can escape and hide in you should seal these off. New cats can be quite skittish and become lost inside of the house when they hide. Cats can also jump to escape out of open windows or scratch their way through screen doors if they really want to explore the outside. Pay special attention to this if you live in an area which where your cat could have predators if they escape.
If you are suffering from a pest problem you may want to deal with it before welcoming a cat into your home. Cats are renowned for hunting mice but there are some dangers to this. Mice can carry parasites like fleas and worms which can pass on to your cat. If cats eat poisoned mice this can be deadly to your cat.
2 Remove dangerous objects
We love to fill or apartment with plants but some of these can be deadly to cats. Cats will sometimes eat plants and it can be difficult to convince them to stop. Lilies in particular dangerous because they are common to have in the house or receive as gifts. They are extremely toxic to your cat and even eating part of a flower can cause a cat to die. If you keep plants you remove any that are harmful for your cat before they arrive.
Some cats, particular pedigree breeds cats like the Flame Point Siamese, suffer from pica. This is a condition that causes them to feel the need to chew on and sometimes eat non-edible items. Cats with pica tend to prefer eating a particular type or shape of material.String like objects in particular can be dangerous as they can get stuck inside of your cat and require a trip to the vet. Be prepared to hide objects electrical cables, shoes with laces, and jewelry from your cat.
Although cat toys are designed for cats, some cats just aren’t safe to be left to play with them unsupervised. We keep our chaser toys locked away in a cupboard when we aren’t around. This also makes them more special for our cats when we do play with them. Cats are curious and will be more interested in something that they don’t see all the time.
3 Cat proof your belongings
Cats can quite easily destroy a lot of your property. Bored cats are well known to knock over objects from shelves to keep themselves entertained. If you have any precious items on display you may want to stick them down or put them in a location you don’t think your cat will reach. Not all cats deliberately knock things off of shelves but in our experience many do.
Many cats are strongly food motivated and will seek out food. Open bags of food in the kitchen, unguarded plates of food, and open bins are common sources of food your cat might try to steal food from. I’ve had to chase one of my cats a few times now after they have stolen a whole sandwich from my desk. You may find you need to be more careful about storing food inside of cupboards and under covers. You need to be especially careful of some foods that are harmful to cats like chocolate and raisins.
4 Buy the basics
When your cat first arrives they will need food, a place to sleep, a place to eat and drink from, and a litter box at minimum. Cats don’t like change so if they were living somewhere before you can make their move easier by bringing over foods and bedding from their last house. Putting more blankets around the house gives them an object to sleep in and also soak up their scent. Scent marking is an important part to your cat’s happiness and you should encourage it. There are many buying guides for cat stuff online. All we recommend for now is to not buy anything too fancy but still look god reasonable quality. Cats are picky and it takes time to start to understand what type of foods, bedding, and toys they prefer.
5 Make your house fun for your cat
An indoor cat needs more than just a safe home to be happy. They need to find their living space interesting and fun to explore. Even if you live in a small apartment, you can introduce spaces for your cat to explore your home vertically so they can keep mentally stimulated. Cat trees and empty shelves are cheap things you can add to your house for cats to explore. Window beds are also a common and cheap place for your cat to lounge in and also give them a place to watch the outside from.
Buy a small selection of cat toys. This is really important for indoor cats as they need you to porivde extra mental stimulation and exercise that they would be getting outside. Passive toys like ball tracks are good, we like to rotate through a couple of toys throughout the month so our cats don’t become too familiar with any single toy.
6 Learn to know what to look out for
At some point you will need to take your cat to the vet to check on their health. Its important that you know what to look for so you can bring them in for a visit as early as possible. Looking in your cat’s litter box is an important part of making sure your cat is healthy. Unusual bowel movements like diarrhea are not normal for your cat and at a certain point you should call your vet about it.
Normally we would say that unusual behavior is also an important thing to look out for but when you first adopt a cat in to your home they will be stressed and behave weirdly anyway. For the first few weeks just look out for obvious signs of pain such as limping. By the time your indoor cat has become more comfortable you will know when they are behaving odd.
7 Set up their health care
Vet visits are necessary but can become very expensive. Indoor cats should still be set up with a vet and we recommend that they get their normal vaccines and parasite treatments to stay healthy. Indoor cats are less likely to get ill or catch parasites like fleas but it is still possible.
While you’re setting up their health care you should also make sure that you are with a vet that you can trust. When picking out a vet, look for one that is happy to talk to you and explain your cat’s conditions and has good availability. The recent popularity of pets has caused a lot of vet clinics to be oversubscribed leaving long wait times for even serious emergencies. The difference of a couple days can be the difference between life or death for your cat.
If you plan on buying insurance for your cat this should be done as soon as possible so their care plan can cover as much as possible. Your prices will probably significantly increase if you sign up after your pet develops a chronic illness.
8 Prepare for them to escape
Indoor cats can escape. Even if you take every precaution to make sure they stay inside some always find a way of sneaking out through an unguarded door or window. Newly adopted indoor cats are also at a higher risk of becomming lost inside of the house as they may feel scared in their first few days.
All cat owners should prepare for their cat to escape. The most basic way that you can prepare is by making sure that your cat is correctly micro chipped and the details are updated to you as their new owner. You can also consider getting a collar for your indoor cat with their relevant details on a tag. If you think your cat is likely to escape this is an extra layer of safety for them to get returned to you as soon as possible. When your cat first arrives take good quality pictures of them when you get the chance which show any distinctive markings. Particularly prepared cat owners can per-emptively design a lost cat poster in case your cat does escape.
9 Prepare your expectations
We know what the feeling is like when your new adopted cat first comes home. You’ve spent ages preparing for this day and all you want to do is hang out, pet, and play with your new feline housemate. It is important to remember that your new cat has no idea what is going on. The sudden change in their surroundings can be overwhelming and having a big human come up and overwhelm them doesn’t help.
Give your cat time to get comfortable with their new surroundings and their home when they first come home. Indoor cats should be gradually introduced to the house for them to feel safe and secure. It will take most cats some weeks, and in many cases months, before they really settle into their new home. Be patient and avoid forcing them to do things like go into new rooms or be pet if they don’t want to. You will earn your cat’s trust a lot quicker if you respect their feelings.