Indoor Cats–A Relatively Recent Phenomenon.
Although the phrase “indoor cat” seems like it has been around forever, a mere 60 years ago there were hardly any cats who lived indoors at all times, cats in the house. Cats have shared their lives with birds and other wildlife for over ten centuries, and this is the way it was intended by nature. All domestic cats are biologically adapted to thrive in an outdoor environment. However, there is no doubt that cats live longer– and usually healthier lives–in captivity.
The invention of cat litter, vaccinations, and procedures such as spaying and neutering occurred during the second half of the 20th century. These inventions solved many problems. For example, male cats who are not neutered frequently “mark their territory” by spraying urine. Therefore, prior to veterinarians learning how to perform sterilization procedures, an indoor male cat would quickly become a problem. Male spraying is an instinctual activity that training cannot resolve. It is his way of telling other males to back away, particularly if he catches the scent of a female cat in heat. Experts state that unneutered males can smell a female cat who is ready to mate as far as three miles away.
Clay-based kitty litter was also a simple yet innovative product that provided a way for people to keep an indoor cat, yet still maintain a sanitary home. Food made specifically for felines has also helped make it possible for cats to live indoors, yet still consume the type of food they were meant to eat.
If you are like many cat owners, you may have noticed your pet exhibiting behavior that is commonly referred to as the “cat crazies.” This is where Fluffy races through the house chasing invisible predators, stopping every now and then to puff her tail and dilate her eyes. This type of romping usually occurs at night, but there is a very distinct reason why this is the case: cats need only 20 percent of the light humans require to see, making a full moon the equivalent of daylight to a cat. For this reason, they are very good nocturnal hunters, and it is in the evening when their hunting instincts kick in. Keeping an adequate amount of toys accessible to your cat, especially if he or she is young, will give your indoor kitty an outlet for this hunting energy.
Ultimately, cats lead a safer and healthier life when confined indoors. However, it is almost guaranteed that there will always be an outdoor feline population, as well. Although it is unwise to attempt to take an adult feral cat–a cat that is not socialized to humans–and attempt to make it an indoor pet, such cats can be spayed or neutered and returned to their outdoor homes to enjoy a better life.