When you adopt a
Coming In from the Cold
Outdoor Cat to Indoors
is slowly making way for Old Man Winter, and your
concern is steadily growing for the stray cat who
settled into your backyard last summer. Homeless Hildegarde has been enjoying your fresh-air
hospitality under the deck all season, but with
cold weather approaching, there's no better time
to introduce her to the pleasures of indoor
living. Luckily, bringing a friendly stray in from
the cold or keeping an indoor/outdoor feline
entirely inside is not as difficult as one might
think. All it takes is some environmental
enrichment and a bit of training.
Litter box training is the biggest concern for
most people. If the cat was ever box trained, she
will likely fall right back into the habit. For
the former indoor/outdoor cat, a two-box system
filled with fine-grain, clumping litter works
best. Place one where you want the litter box to
permanently reside, and put the transitional box
at the door the cat once used to exit the house.
When she finds that she can't get outside to the
topsoil, she will use the box by the door. After
that habit is established, slowly move the
transitional box closer to the permanent setup.
Once the boxes are side by side you can remove one
For the cat who has never been litter box
trained, a confinement method is usually
necessary. Set the cat up in a cattery cage or a
large dog crate complete with litter box, resting
space, food, water and toys. When the cat is
consistently using her litter box, she can be
moved to a small room, like a bathroom or galley
kitchen. After she gets the hang of that, you can
increase her space yet again. If she has a lapse,
return to the last space the cat kept clean. Don't
forget to visit her often and release her for
supervised exercise, grooming and affection during
the confinement period. Also, once she has earned
the free run of your home, make sure she isn't
tempted to use your potted plants as a litter box.
Cover soil with aluminum foil, or pack glass
pebbles or marbles around the plant.
Enhancing Your Cat's
When litter box training is complete, you can
begin to enrich your cat's new environment. Since
her days will no longer be spent searching for her
supper, she'll need something else to while away
the hours. Window perches allow your indoor cat to
keep an eye on the backyard bird population while
safely basking in the sun. An indoor planter
containing feline favorites such as catnip and
wheat grass enables your cat to nosh on cat-safe
greenery. Toys are a must for these reformed
hunters; interactive playthings sporting feathers
are especially enticing. Just remember to rotate
toys every week or two to keep your feline's
To safeguard furniture from a cat who's used to
scratching wherever she pleases, offer several
kinds of scratching posts and determine her
pleasure. Look for posts that are sturdy enough to
climb. Cat tree furniture, which usually includes
several resting platforms atop natural tree trunks
or posts wrapped in sisal, is a good bet.
Placement near a sunny window or patio door
guarantees enjoyment. In addition, cardboard
scratch pads embedded with catnip are inexpensive
and can be scattered throughout your home.
Overcoming the Lure of
Although indoor living has many perks, the call of
the wild can be intense for some cats. Given the
opportunity, these cats will attempt to dash for
freedom whenever a window is opened or a door is
left ajar. Make sure screens fit snugly in windows
and cannot be dislodged by a persistent cat.
Dissuade door-dashing by drawing your cat away
from doorways before entering and departing your
home. Roll a toy or toss a treat across the room
to focus kitty's attention away from the door. If
there are children in your home who come and go
frequently, stage practice runs with your cat.
Leave the door ajar; if she begins to saunter out
of it, startle her with a blast of canned air or a spritz of water from the outside. If the outdoors
proves inhospitable, it's likely to dampen her
ardor for adventuring. A backyard cat enclosure
can fulfill the fresh air needs of a hardcore
outdoor lover while keeping the cat and nature
safe from one another.
By the time winter sets in, you'll be able to
sit back and enjoy watching the first snowflakes
fly. Hildegarde will be napping on the hearth,
safe and warm and there to stay.
Article courtesy: The American
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Printed with permission.
Complete list of