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Dr. Rosie DVM
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Bringing Cats Indoors:

  • Transitioning from an outdoor to an indoor environment can be stressful for cats used to roaming freely.
  • Provide a safe and stimulating indoor environment with plenty of hiding spots and vertical spaces.

Making your outdoor cat a indoor-only:

  • Set up a refuge: Provide a comfortable and secure area with all necessary resources such as food, water, a perch by a window, a cozy sleeping spot, hiding places (like brown paper bags or cardboard boxes), a scratching post, and various toys. This space should allow the cat to acclimate to the indoors gradually.
  • Familiarization: Spend time with the cat in the refuge to help her adjust to the new environment. Leaving a radio or TV on can provide comforting background noise when the cat is alone.
  • Gradual transition: If there are no other pets in the household, leave the refuge door open to allow the cat to explore at her own pace. For households with other pets, introduce them slowly and carefully, following guidelines for introducing new pets.
  • Environmental enrichment: Make the indoor environment stimulating and engaging. Place perches near windows for bird watching, provide scratching posts in multiple locations, and rotate toys regularly to keep the cat entertained.
  • Preventing escape attempts: Cats may try to dart out of doors, so discourage this behavior by using a spray bottle or noise deterrent when the cat approaches exit points. You can also use citrus-scented sprays near doors to deter the cat from getting too close.
  • Outdoor access: Consider leash training your cat or providing access to a screened porch or enclosed outdoor space to satisfy her curiosity for the outdoors safely.

Bringing a previously stray cat indoors:

  • Veterinary visit: Before bringing the cat indoors, schedule a visit to the veterinarian. The cat should undergo a physical examination, be tested for diseases like feline leukemia and FIV, receive vaccinations, and be treated for worms. If the cat is not spayed or neutered, this should be done as well.
  • Home introduction: Introduce the cat to your home slowly, providing a safe space with food, water, a litter box, and comfortable bedding. Allow the cat to explore at her own pace, and avoid overwhelming her with too much stimulation initially.
  • Patience and socialization: Stray cats may take time to adjust to indoor living and human interaction. Be patient and provide plenty of attention, affection, and playtime to help the cat feel comfortable and secure in her new environment.
  • Monitoring health: Keep an eye on the cat's health and behavior during the adjustment period. If you notice any concerning signs, consult your veterinarian for advice.
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