Not so long ago, cat ownership was off-limits to the majority of apartment dwellers. Cats were outdoor animals, end of story. If you did try to keep one inside, you’d be labeled as cruel by anyone who knew about it.  Now, though, indoor cats are becoming more of a regularity. Part of the reason for this is that among apartment-based millennials, cat ownership has become fashionable.  However, millions of non-millennials are also keeping their cats indoors, both in apartments and houses. These kitties for the most part are happy.  Cat lovers pursue their passion irrelevant of their living situation.

But, what happens if your indoor cat doesn’t settle the way all those others seem to? What if you’re fighting a constant battle of cat misery? Given that none of us like to see our pets unhappy, this is a terrible situation. If your cat seems lethargic, uninterested, or under the weather, there’s a chance they aren’t adjusting as well as you might hope to living inside.

Please keep in mind that all these symptoms are also signs of possible illness.  To rule illness out, take your cat in for a checkup. If there’s nothing physically wrong, you can bet their indoor lifestyle has something to do with their symptoms.

It’s important to note that very few outdoor cats adjust to a life indoors. If you’re trying to make this work with an older cat, it’s no wonder you’re having trouble.  Imagine if someone took you away from the life you knew outdoors and told you to stay inside your home for the rest of your life.  It would be a real shock to your system, wouldn’t it?

Your best bet for house cat success is to start them when they’re young . Kittens can’t go outside until they’re six months old anyway.   Getting a kitty younger than this means they’ll be adaptable to inside living.  Unfortunately, age alone isn’t enough to guarantee happiness. If your kitten seems unhappy, you should consider the following reasons why.

You aren’t providing enough stimulation

In general, we consider cats to be low-maintenance, independent pets. They have a reputation for being aloof & not affectionate with their owners.  However, this distance is often attributable to their outside activity. Our feline friends are talented at keeping themselves entertained while they are off on their excursions. They come home usually to sleep. When you remove that aspect of a cat’s life, you’ll find that they need much more stimulation than you expect.

Cats are intelligent creatures who become restless when there’s nothing to do or investigate. This is why toys are essential for indoor cats. A cat who goes outside probably won’t care much for a toy mouse, but an indoor cat will.  Buying anything they can chase is a good investment. Treat balls will appeal to many of them as well as provide good puzzles for them to solve.

Many indoor cat owners invest in cat trees with good reason. Most kittens and cats enjoy a good climbing session while they’re out and about. They’ll climb anything from trees to walls. Climbing is good for stimulation and to unsharpen their claws. Try to provide climbing opportunities for your cat inside your home. Cat trees are perhaps your best bet, but they aren’t your only option. You can also hang pieces of fabric, hammocks and cat shelves around the house. The more places your cat has to explore, the less chance they have of getting bored.

They’re confused about the potty situation

Few people realize how clean cats are. In truth, the idea of pooping in their bedroom is as unappealing to your cat as it would be to you. This is why most cats go outside to do their business.  Although outdoor cats need litter trays, they rarely use them if they are allowed outside. Of course, if you start with a kitten, they won’t know about the great outdoors.

Still, you may find that your new kitten or cat will become distressed about the potty situation. A new cat or kitten may struggle to find the litter box or simply not approve of where it’s placed. An older cat may want to do their business outside. No matter why, this can lead to in-house accidents, which will distress both you and your cat. Until this situation is resolved, perhaps you might consider an investment in cat diapers like the ones you’ll find if you browse Pet Parents and other similar sites.  (For those of you who have a companion dog experiencing in-house accidents, click here for a comprehensive guide to dog diapers.)

Set about finding a position for that litter tray which works better for your cat. Your best bet would be near a door, or in a room your cat doesn’t often sleep in. Let your cat see the new position, then if you invested in a diaper remove it and see how things go. You can bet, once you’ve resolved this issue, that your four-legged friend will feel much happier.

They need a breath of fresh air

We all need a breath of fresh air now and again, and so does your cat. Even a feline who has never left the house may gravitate towards windows and doors for this reason.  Let’s face it; indoor air gets stale. That’s why you should focus on bringing fresh air into any house cat’s experience. This is easier said than done, of course.   Open doors and windows will soon lead to a missing cat, one with no street sense. But, by thinking outside the box here, there’s no reason you can’t make this work.

There are plenty of door and window screens available for this purpose. By placing one of these in front of an open window or door, you can ensure your cat feels the breeze without being able to escape. If you don’t already have window ledges, it’s worth incorporating some. That way your kitty can get up close to the outdoors, providing them with fresh air and sunlight.

You might want to invest in a cat lead & if your cat will tolerate it, you can take them out for walks at least once a day. A short & simple walk down to a piece of greenery outside your home might satisfy them. Bear in mind that walking a cat is nothing like walking a dog. You WILL go where they want. Short spurts outdoors with you could be just the breath of fresh air they’re after.

Go green

Speaking of outdoors, cats love greenery. You may have noticed that cats outside love to sniff, play with, and sometimes even eat the plants they come across. If your cats are down in the dumps bringing greenery inside your home may help to perk them up again. Beware, some plants are toxic for cats. You can find lists of those online.  However, there are also some plants which cats are guaranteed to love. A few of the top picks include:

  • Cat Grass. Yes, there is such a thing. This special grass aids cat digestion. You can find seeds at most pet stores. By placing them in an indoor planter, you could help with both your cat’s happiness and health.
  • Mint. Indoor herbs are good news for cats as well as cooking it seems. Felines love the smell of mint.  An additional benefit for you is that mint keeps mice away. Happy news for you and your kitchen, maybe not so happy for your cat.
  • Catnip. We had to mention it!  You don’t even need us to tell you why this is a good idea. Just note that it could be the ideal plant to chill out your stressed house cat.

Here is a handy list of 29 safe houseplants for cats along with photos to make identification easy!  For a comprehensive  in-depth guide about poisonous plants for cats, click here.

For those of you who also have dogs, for a comprehensive guide on food that dogs can’t eat and are even dangerous for them to ingest, click here.

You’re smothering them

It’s worth noting that cats, like us, enjoy having private space and alone time. That’s why they often go on solo trips outside. However, your house cat doesn’t have that choice. For that reason, your cat may start to feel a little smothered. You know how you feel when you can’t get any alone time. No wonder your cat isn’t at their best, then.

The ideal way around this would be to provide either a bed or open carrier for your cat. By placing this in a rarely used room, you can ensure your cat that much-needed sense of privacy. This will become a safe space for your cat to retreat to when they feel the need to unwind.

Given that cats are often on alert, it’s also worth keeping this space where your cat knows no one can creep up on them. Corners are always good for this. If your cat’s particularly jumpy, it might be worth setting their bed on a raised platform. That way they’ll be able to see everything when they’re relaxing.

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