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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Caring for Indoor Cats

In cases and places where pet owners feel that it’s unsafe or unwise to allow domesticated cats to roam outdoors, we may wonder about ways to ensure the mental and physical welfare of our indoor-only animals. For cats, following a few helpful tips and creative ideas suggested by Michelle Bernard, author of Raising Cats Naturally, provides caregivers ready options for supporting their feline’s overall well-being.

Fresh Air and Sunshine Fresh air and sunshine are vital to all living creatures. Private porches inserted into a window or perched nearby typically become favored resting places, especially when a bird or squirrel feeder is placed on the other side of the screen. Keep windows and shades open whenever possible, and secure screens to prevent an escape or a fall. It makes for great “kitty TV.”

During colder months, a makeshift “kitty beach” can offer a purrfect place to sunbathe. Simply mount two clip-on lamps with 100-watt full-spectrum lights from any hardware store in a safe spot. Then place a piece of sheepskin (the “beach”) under the lamps and watch kitty happily bask away the day. Putting the lights on timers allows sun worshippers to enjoy the beach in the morning and later in the day.

Entertainment Interactive playtime with kitty is a great way to bond and help him or her burn off excess energy and alleviate boredom. Expensive toys aren’t necessary for good fun. Most cats love the tiny fur mice available in pet stores for a dollar or less. They also enjoy all sorts of lightweight balls (such as ping pong balls), rolled up pieces of paper or even plastic rings from milk jugs.

Sometimes a simple cardboard box or paper bag can provide hours of amusement. The “great laser light chase” offers lots of action, but take care to avoid shining light directly into the animal’s eyes. Cats love to play with a kitty fishing pole as well; be sure to store these out of reach when not in play due to potential harm from entanglement or ingestion of the string.

Felines are easily amused and can entertain themselves with many thoughtful toys purchased through pet stores or the internet. For example, the Dipsy Doodle Tiger Toy is a miniature version of a toy developed to entertain big cats in zoos, and The Cat Dancer provides springy fun that simulates stalking, hunting and chasing prey.

Scratching Poles Both indoor and outdoor cats must have some form of scratching post available. A scratching post covered in carpet often encourages a cat to scratch on carpeted floors, so sisal rope or sisal fabric is the preferred covering. Try satisfying kitty’s need for climbing and spending time in high places with a five-foot high wooden step ladder wrapped with sisal rope. And enhance another homemade scratching post with real tree limbs. The more options for scratching activities, the happier the cat.

Though it may seem unnatural to keep a cat from going outside, it’s often the only way to protect her from traffic or predators. A bit of creativity and commitment to nurturing kitty’s needs go a long way toward keeping an indoor friend happy, healthy and safe.

Michelle Bernard is recognized for her sound approach to rearing cats as well as her writings on many aspects of holistic cat care. She offers consultations from her North Carolina home. For more, visit


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Date: 2007/11/28 12:05:00 US/Pacific

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