Indoor life is best for cat longevity, but ‘Catios’ are fun and leash walking is doable – Pasadena Star News

With kitten season in full swing, animal shelters across Southern California are filled with adorable and adoptable cats and kittens looking for new homes. During our adoption counseling sessions, we’re often asked if cats should definitely live in the home.

For the health and safety of cats and wildlife, we recommend keeping cats indoors and only allowing them outside on a leash or in an enclosure.

I know a lot of you are thinking how the heck am I supposed to get my cat on a leash and will my neighbors think I’m crazy?

Well, I assure you, walking your cat is all the rage. My friend Bonnie walks her cat Mister every day. Lucky for the fashion savvy, our Pasadena Humane website has an easy instructional video on how to leash train your cat.

Mister, a leash trained tomcat, likes to go for walks with his owner Bonnie.  Walking your cat on a leash and in a harness is a safe way for cats to experience the great outdoors.  (Photo courtesy of Pasadena Humane)
Mister, a leash trained tomcat, likes to go for walks with his owner Bonnie. Walking your cat on a leash and in a harness is a safe way for cats to experience the great outdoors. (Photo courtesy of Pasadena Humane)

And just google “catios” to see some wonderful pictures of outdoor cat enclosures, from the simple to the sublime. Outdoor cat pens are another option to help your cat have a safe and fun time outdoors.

Keep your cat indoors or locked up so it can live longer. According to some estimates, indoor cats live an average of 10 to 15 years, while the average lifespan of an outdoor cat is only three to five years.

There are many risks to cats outdoors – cars, predatory wildlife, people who are unkind to cats, cats fighting with other cats, communicable diseases, parasites, toxins and the list goes on.

House cats may avoid these outdoor dangers, but the downside is that they’re more likely to be overweight and suffer from boredom. That’s why physical activity and mental enrichment are just as important for cats as they are for dogs.

The good news is that aside from leash walks and outdoor enclosures, there are many easy ways to provide enrichment and activity for your indoor cat.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Go Vertical: Cats are natural climbers. Give your little tigger some vertical space by providing climbing and scratching surfaces like scratching posts and wall-mounted cat shelves.

Indoor gardening: Bring nature indoors by growing cat grass for your feline companion. You can pick up pre-grown weed or seed mixes at your local pet store. No green thumb? No problem. Get some dried catnip to sprinkle over your cat’s play area.

Mister, a leash trained tomcat, likes to go for walks with his owner Bonnie.  Walking your cat on a leash and in a harness is a safe way for cats to experience the great outdoors.  (Photo courtesy of Pasadena Humane)
Mister, a leash trained tomcat, likes to go for walks with his owner Bonnie. Walking your cat on a leash and in a harness is a safe way for cats to experience the great outdoors. (Photo courtesy of Pasadena Humane)

To play: Indoor cats get most of their exercise from play. It’s important to provide your cat with a few 10 to 15 minute daily play sessions. Most cats love chasing after a wand toy. Make it look like prey by making the toy disappear around the corner and watch your cat pounce. I recommend these types of toys over laser pointers so your cat can have the satisfaction of actually “catching” something tangible.

Soak up the sun: Cats love to sleep in the sun. Provide your cat with a variety of cozy beds, window bars, and window-level scratching posts so she can enjoy some rays while you engage in pet-friendly birdwatching.

forget it Scratching is normal, healthy feline behavior and should be encouraged. Cats scratch to express emotion, to mark their territory, to keep their claws healthy, and to stretch. To prevent your cats from scratching furniture, provide them with a variety of suitable scratching opportunities. Try a combination of vertical and horizontal scratching posts made of different materials to find what your cat likes best.

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