How to Transition Your Outdoor Cat to Indoors

Training your cat to live only inside is an intimidating task for outdoor cat owners. However, there are many reasons that you may be doing so. For example, you’ve recently moved and it’s no longer safe for your cat to be outside. Or, you’ve rescued a cat who lived outside and you want to transition them 100% inside. 

Cats can be stubborn and typically have strong reactions to change. Nevertheless, training your cat to live indoors will provide tremendous benefits and is definitely worth the effort. 

Litter Box Training

The litter box is a very important item that will aid in the transitioning of your cat to the indoors. It is necessary to make sure the litter box is attractive to your cat, so they will be more inclined to use it. Uncovered litter boxes will be the best option, as covered boxes have the possibility of frightening your cat. 

We recommend that you buy two litter boxes and place them in areas your cat will likely go to, such as the outside door or a more private area. This will result in a higher chance that your cat chooses one of the litter boxes as its favorite.

Now that you have the perfect litter box, the next step is to choose a litter that is appealing to your cat. This will take experimentation, as some cats may or may not like certain scents, textures, or might prefer unscented litter altogether. 

In order to determine which litter your cat prefers, place a different type of litter in each box. Depth of litter in each box is another important element that can also be tested.

As with any type of training, make sure to provide positive reinforcement to encourage litter box use. 

If you continue to run into issues with litter training, check out our blog post on why your cat may be peeing outside of the litter box!

Provide Perches Near a Window

Because your cat is familiar with the outdoors, it’s a great idea to let them experience as much of it as they can, even if it’s from inside. Cats enjoy climbing trees to view the world from above, so giving them an option to continue this behavior inside will encourage comfortability in their setup.

Placing a perch near a window where your cat can enjoy the sunshine and view the outdoor activities and wildlife is a highly popular and recommended option. If you want to go one step further, you can install a bird feeder outside that your kitty could watch.

Help your cat enjoy the outdoors while transitioning to inside!

Allow Your Cat to Continue Their “Hunter” Lifestyle

Cats are natural predators. While they may not be continuing that behavior outside, you can implement activities that address those predatory behaviors from inside your home. You can accomplish this by encouraging your cat to hunt for a portion of their meals. This creates a fun and energetic environment for your cat to make use of their instinctive behavior.

You can roll treats on the floor or gently toss them so your cat can chase them. Another option is to place dry food and treats in cat toys, puzzle boxes, tunnels, or vertical toys. However, the most popular of these toys is a pole toy that you can drag away from your cat. At the end of your play session, with that final catch, reward them with their meal.

Toy Recommendations

Your cat is going to want to scratch something! Because of this, we highly recommend investing in a scratching post in order to avoid damage to your furniture. 

Cat grass is another great option. Many cats enjoy digging into a tray of grass. This is a great alternative to being outdoors and provides them with a similar, stimulating experience. 

Make sure to purchase grass specifically developed for felines! If you have any questions, one of our PetWellClinic veterinarians will be happy to make a recommendation.

Lastly, self-propelling toys allow your cat to play on their own. A ball of yarn or a cardboard box can be enough to satisfy them all day!

Toys like yarn, cat grass, and scratching posts can satisfy your indoor cat!

Be Patient Transitioning Your Outdoor Cat to Indoors

While your choice to move your cat indoors is a wonderful idea that serves your cat in many ways, it’s important to note that your cat will need time to warm up to the idea. The length of this process varies by cat, with some immediately adjusting while others taking longer. 

Cats should never be forced, but rather encouraged to transition through this process by making their inside life more exciting! Know that depending on your cat, some may demand lots of outdoor time. Thankfully, it is completely possible for you to leash train your cat so that they can continue to spend time outside, but in a safe and controlled manner. 

We hope that these tips will help to make you feel more at ease with the process of transitioning your cat indoors. For more information or further guidance, check with your local PetWellClinic veterinarian.

PetWellClinic is dedicated to being here for pet owners. Our hours of operation extend into the evenings and weekends, and our clinic environment is built with your pet’s comfort in mind. If you want to know more about transitioning your kitty to inside, visit PetWellClinic and our veterinarians will be happy to walk you through your next steps. 

PetWellClinic provides convenient, affordable veterinary care for pet owners. PetWellClinic has locations and services built with convenience in mind. Stop by with your pet any time! No appointment necessary.

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