Transitioning your cat

Happy cats are contained cats.

Cats can live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives indoors or contained on your property. If you provide the enrichment your cat needs to carry out its instinctual predatory behaviour and meet its basic needs, your cat can be happy and safe within the confines of your home or property.

Knowing where to start to transition your roaming cat however, can be a challenge. Set yourself up for success with these tips:

Get to know your cat

It’s important to understand the individual needs of your cat before transitioning them indoors or to a catio. By understanding your cat’s communication, sensory, health and support needs, preferences for activities, skill level, and engagement style you can set them up for a successful transition to the indoor or contained environment. Before you transition your cat, observe their behaviour and personality with SWCC’s How To Guide.

Provide the basics and enrichment

Set up a feeding and drinking station, litter tray, scratching post, safe area, play toys and a perch. Get creative with your enrichment and remember that games which allow cats to fulfill their predatory behaviour – and win – will reduce their anxiety and frustration. Providing an outlet for your cat to practice their predatory behaviour inside the home or in a catio will reduce their desire to leave your property. Many cats also enjoy vertical enrichment and vantage points, so incorporate these into your indoor or catio space. Check out this guide from Dr Heather Crawford: Keeping cats content in catios.

Start slow – indoor cats

Depending on whether you have a cat who already has a night-time curfew or a free roaming cat, it’s important to transition your cat slowly to the new routine. A consistent feeding routine is key so that your cat knows when and where to expect their food. Eliminating ad-hoc feeding also limits their night-time activity, making your cat more active during the day.

For free roaming cats, set an evening curfew first and provide a tasty meal at the cat door each night at the same time. Once this routine is in place, or if you already have a curfew in place, you can start to gradually open the cat door later and later each day. Once your cat is indoors for most of the day you can permanently close the cat door. And viola – you have an indoor cat!

Start slow – catio cats

If you are planning to build a catio or cat run, follow the same steps for indoor cats; establishing routines and gradually keeping your cat indoors for more time of the day. Once your cat is accustomed to being contained in your home, you can introduce it to the catio or cat run and establish your enrichment and routines in this space, as well as indoors