Cat Behavior and Cat Training
Bringing an Outdoor Cat Indoors
If you recall, Nutter The Cat was a stray cat that I brought into my home with the intentions of getting him into a local cat rescue. Well, that didn’t happen—he decided he was happy with me and didn’t have any intentions of leaving. But how did I transition this outdoor cat into an indoor cat?
First, I don’t think there is just one way to go about bringing an outdoor cat indoors. I’m sure a lot of people have tried various things with a variety of results. I can only tell you what I would suggest and why. I’d love to hear your success stories in the comments below!
Just Do It! There’s no time like the present. But really, you should prepare a bit before opening the front door to the outdoor cat.
- Cat Room– Decide on a good, warm and quiet room your cat can call his own, or at least where you can keep a lot of his belongings. Prepare it for your new cat. A warm bed, lots of fun cat toys, a variety of cat scratching posts, cat caves, hiding spots, healthy cat treats, fresh water, healthy cat food, and a litter box. Add some calming aids such as Feliway and calming music to his room.
- Litter Box- Choose a shallow and large litter box or a plastic sweater box. You want it to be very easy for your new cat to walk inside and not feel trapped. Please put your cat’s litter box as far away from his food as possible. Having the litter box and food in the same room is not an ideal situation long-term.
- Vet Appointment- I would suggest for most people to set up a vet appointment before bringing the cat indoors. This may not work if the cat can’t be corralled into a cat carrier, in which case, a live trap might be the best solution. Then you go from live trap, to vet, to your cat’s cozy room.
- Confinement in Cat Room– If your outdoor cat is now going to be an indoor cat, you will probably be best served to confine the cat into his one room until he adjusts and starts to trust you. Days, weeks, it just depends on the cat. But remember, it’s not about being isolated all the time, so plan on spending lots of quality time in his room.
- Getting to Know Each Other– Depending on the relationship you have already established, this may be quick, or it may be slow. Don’t rush it and don’t push the cat to be friends quickly. At the beginning, it may just be sitting in the room with him and tossing him healthy cat treats or pieces of cooked meat. Then advance to some fun cat play with a cat wand toy.
- The Rest of The House– During your cat’s transition, you should be prepping the rest of the house. Just like you would puppy-proof a home, you are going to kitty-proof your home. Provide plenty of hiding spots, climbing trees, cat beds, and cat toys. Remember, you now have a new family member that needs to be entertained and have appropriate things to do. Also provide a few additional litter boxes throughout your house.
Once you start to establish trust with your cat and he’s getting acclimated to spending time indoors, allow him access to other parts of the house. Close off any doors that are not necessary, so he has limited access, but constant access to his safe room.
Voila! Your outdoor kitty is now an indoor kitty. I realize it might not go smoothly for everyone, and every cat situation presents its own challenges, but hopefully these tips and ideas will help you with the transition.
Have you brought an outdoor cat indoors to live? Tell me in the comments.
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