There are a lot of good reasons why your indoor cat should not be left free to roam the outdoors. There are cars, exposure to infections, accidental poisonings, unpredictable humans. Predators are rampant, from other cats to coyotes. Keeping your cat inside is what’s best for her own safety (though we are supporters of taking your kitty for a leashed walk—just make sure you fit her with a harness, not just a collar).
But just because our indoor feline friends shouldn’t explore the great outdoors doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy its natural wonders. You just have to bring it to them! Creating a kitty-safe natural paradise in your home is easy, budget-friendly, and can make an incredible difference in your cat’s overall well-being. Here’s how to do it.
Pick a spot in your home that you can turn into your cat’s “outdoor” room. Prime locations are a sunroom, fully-enclosed porch, or anywhere with strong natural light. At the very least, make sure there is one window that you can allot to your kitty. All animals get a mental health boost from natural light, not to mention the necessity of sunlight for helping process vitamin D.
Cats are naturally predisposed to climbing and appreciating life from up high. Rather than letting her climb that tree in the yard, you can satisfy this vertical preference by crafting some perches. You can go either the traditional cat tree or cat cube route, or get creative and design your own vertical space with shelves. Secure fun surprises like scratching pads and dangling toys on the shelves to make the climb more exciting.
Cats are curious creatures and love to watch the world go by, so make sure that he has a perch for staring out the window(s). That can be a table, a shelf, a well-placed cat tree, or anything that he can comfortably curl up on. Consider posting a bird feeder directly in view—it’s basically feline-friendly reality TV.
One of the best ways to bring the outdoors in for your cat is to provide him with plenty of non-toxic plants to smell and nosh on. Set up little planters with various grasses such as cat grass or rye grass. Herbs like parsley and thyme are also safe for nibbles, provide a pleasant aroma, and can help freshen breath. Plants such as maidenhair ferns, Boston ferns, spider plants, and most palms can help you turn the space into a jungle of cat-safe greenery. For a complete list of toxic and non-toxic plants for cats, visit ASPCA.org/Pet-Care/Animal-Poison-Control.
Part of what makes the outdoors so enticing is the limitless amount of stimulation and excitement it offers for our animal friends. Your kitty may be relegated to your home, but she should still enjoy a variety of environmental enrichments. Provide plenty of fun distractions, including puzzle feeders, interactive toys, and object-based toys. Hang feathers on strings, hide little catnip-filled mice around the room, and consistently switch it up to keep activities new and exciting.
Creating a space in your home where your indoor cat can safely enjoy the benefits of the outdoors and give in to her natural kitty instincts is not just a luxury—it’s a necessity. Cats who have access to light, perches, plants, and environmental enrichment are happier, healthier, and more comfortable in their homes. Open those blinds and let the sunshine in.