Last updated: October 3, 2016
When I adopted my kitty he was already a full-grown cat and used to being outdoors. I am a big time softie so I left it like that, and now every night his pals Fred, Domino, Leo and Rex come round for a bit of cat chat because I leave the window open for him. (Yes, I know I’m silly!) Sometimes we find bits of disemboweled wildlife in the garden, and every night there’s the pungent aroma of Eau de Fred which he loves to spray everywhere because his owner doesn’t believe in the neutering thing. So how do I keep cats out of the garden? I did a bit of lateral thinking and decided that I’d approach it the other way round, and find out how to keep my cat in.
Indoor Cats in, Outdoor Cats Out
There are many reasons to keep a cat indoors. For her safety – she may be attacked by other cats or predators, acquire diseases, or be bitten or infested with parasites. Other reasons to keep cats out of the garden are getting lost, run over by cars or stolen. Indoor cats have been statistically proven to live longer since they are not exposed to any of these dangers and are petted and cuddled to their hearts’ content – at least mine is! They are seriously in danger of getting through all their multiple lives outside very quickly! Last but not least – think of the local wildlife! I did a survey, and among the 100 birds I interviewed, 100% were in favor of indoor cats! Well, I was so surprised!
Weaning Your Cat Off the Big Outdoors
But you can’t just close the door behind your cat and expect her to settle in straight away. If she’s used to roaming around the garden, even one with a six feet wall like mine, it’s going to be a major adjustment and will have to be done in baby steps. The best way is to keep her in a reasonably small room with all her favourite toys , litter box and food in it for a few days then gradually let her, bit by bit, have the run of the house. It’s also helpful to rub her cheeks with a dry cloth and spread her scent all over the room.
The first thing you have to do to keep cats out of the garden is to make it more interesting for her to be inside than to be outside. Cats are naturally curious creatures and love exploring and playing, and if all she can do all day is sleep and eat you’ll have one very bored and listless cat. Not to mention fat! So think like a cat and decide what you’d like and need around you. This is how your cat thinks:
I’m an outdoor/indoor cat and I’m slowly becoming an indoor cat because they say I’m safer in here. But where do I poop? They don’t have a nice big compost heap like the one outside where I can do my business and bury it – but what’s this? They call it a litter box – duh? Well, I’m going to try it. It looks ok. Yeah, I think I can get used to it!
Where am I going to scratch? I know! I’ll use this lovely rough stuff on the sound system speaker or the sisal carpet or the rough bark of that nice big house plant! Or that expensive leather sofa! But that thing looks quite cool. My own scratching post – all mine! Just for me! Meow!
Feeding and playing routines
What’s this – an empty bowl? Empty? What is that woman doing to me? Wait! Wow! A laser pointer! What’s that? A little red dot? Let me catch that little red dot! A catnip mouse? Fabulous! Wait! Stand still little red dot! What have I done to deserve all this? Ah – I get it! They’re distracting me till suppertime! Ok, I’ll play along. They think if I stay inside I might get fat. Me? Never! Just as long as all this playing doesn’t affect my naptime, cuddling and stroking sessions! I still can’t catch that little red dot!
There’s a tree in my room! No more jumping on the bookshelves for me! And catmint plants on the windowsill! Hallelujah!
Ooooh…look what I found! A cardboard box! And my own basket that even smells like me. This really is becoming my kind of place. Scratching post, toys, indoor toilet, regular grub, a soft bed, cardboard boxes! I may never go outside again – unless she takes me to the vet! Yes, I know it’s for my own good, but I don’t have to like it!
If you really can’t bear the idea of your cat staying indoors all the time, bring a bit of the outside indoors (or put a bit of the indoors outdoors!) The latest greatest thing for the cat with everything is called a “catio.” It’s the ultimate deluxe cat playroom with everything in it that a cat could want except birds. It has her tree, or more than one if you have space and an unlimited number of scratching posts and hiding places. It’s a simple wooden frame which has to be enclosed by some transparent walling material so that she can still see the world outside and won’t become bored. Wire mesh fencing is ideal walling material since it provides good ventilation. It must have a roof to stop your kitty getting out and all her pals getting in. This can be made of any weatherproof material you like; it needn’t be expensive. The catio can be built on the side of your house or it can lead out from your house via French windows. I’ve seen catios mounted on the sides of walls. I’ve even seen two of them connected by a flyover bridge about ten feet off the ground! If you are the handy sort you can make one yourself; there are plenty of D.I.Y. designs for catios you can google. However, if you’re like me, your idea of D.I.Y. is knitting a sweater and your life is too short to spend it building catios, you can get a handy friend to do it or just go and buy one. There are plenty of designs and prices to suit every wallet. (And it keeps cats out of the garden!)
Never Mind the Cat – What About Me?
If kitty is missing you, or vice versa, you can make or buy a catio that’s big enough for you to put your couch or armchair in there too, then you and your beloved cat can relax together. What about a TV? A hi-fi? A fridge for all your beers? The list is endless! So what are you waiting for? Just go and get one – trust me, your cat will love you for it – only thing is, she may never want to come out!