Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT, Companion Animal Programs Adviser, National Outreach, APSCA Autumn is slowly making way for Old Man Winter, and your concern is steadily growing for the stray cat who settled into your backyard last summer. Homeless Hildegarde has been enjoying your fresh-air hospitality under the deck all season, but with cold weather approaching, there’s no better time to introduce her to the pleasures of indoor living. Luckily, bringing a friendly stray in from the cold or keeping an indoor/outdoor feline entirely inside is not as difficult as one might think. All it takes is some environmental enrichment and a bit of training. Thinkstock Litter box training is the biggest concern for most people. If the cat was ever box trained, she will likely fall right back into the habit. For the former indoor/outdoor cat, a two-box system filled with fine-grain, clumping litter works best. Place one where you want the litter box to permanently reside, and put the transitional box at the door the cat once used to exit the house. When she finds that she can’t get outside to the topsoil, she will use the box by the door. After that habit is established, slowly move the transitional box closer to the permanent setup. Once the boxes are side by side you can remove one of them. For the cat who has never been litter box trained, a confinement method is usually necessary. Set the cat up in a cattery cage or a large dog crate complete with litter box, resting space, food, water and toys. When the cat is consistently using her litter box, she can be moved to a small room, like a bathroom or galley kitchen. After she gets the hang of that, you can increase her space yet again. If she has a lapse, return to the last space the cat kept clean. Don’t forget to visit her often and release her for supervised exercise, grooming and affection during the confinement period. Also, once she has earned the free run of your home, make sure she isn’t tempted to use your potted plants as a litter box. Cover soil with aluminum foil, or pack glass pebbles or marbles around the plant. Enhancing Your Cat’s Habitat When litter box training is complete, you can begin to enrich your cat’s new environment. Since her days will no longer be spent searching for her supper, she’ll need something else to while away the hours. Window perches allow your indoor cat to keep an eye on the backyard bird population while safely basking in the sun. An indoor planter containing feline favorites such as catnip and wheat grass enables your cat to nosh on cat-safe greenery. Toys are a must for these reformed hunters; interactive playthings sporting feathers are especially enticing. Just remember to rotate toys every week or two to keep your feline’s interest piqued. To safeguard furniture from a cat who’s used to scratching wherever she pleases, offer several kinds of scratching posts and determine her pleasure. Look for posts that are sturdy enough to climb. Cat tree furniture, which usually includes several resting platforms atop natural tree trunks or posts wrapped in sisal, is a good bet. Placement near a sunny window or patio door guarantees enjoyment. In addition, cardboard scratch pads embedded with catnip are inexpensive and can be scattered throughout your home. Overcoming the Lure of the Outdoors Although indoor living has many perks, the call of the wild can be intense for some cats. Given the opportunity, these cats will attempt to dash for freedom whenever a window is opened or a door is left ajar. Make sure screens fit snugly in windows and cannot be dislodged by a persistent cat. Dissuade door-dashing by drawing your cat away from doorways before entering and departing your home. Roll a toy or toss a treat across the room to focus kitty’s attention away from the door. If there are children in your home who come and go frequently, stage practice runs with your cat. Leave the door ajar; if she begins to saunter out of it, startle her with a blast of canned air or a spritz of water from the outside. If the outdoors proves inhospitable, it’s likely to dampen her ardor for adventuring. A backyard cat enclosure can fulfill the fresh air needs of a hardcore outdoor lover while keeping the cat and nature safe from one another. By the time winter sets in, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy watching the first snowflakes fly. Hildegarde will be napping on the hearth, safe and warm and there to stay.
Search Add New Question My cat has a weird love of drinking straws. He likes the air blown out of them. He loves the vents, the fan. Anything. Is there a toy that we could make or buy to satisfy this? wikiHow Contributor Try using candy dispensers that have a little fan on them, just be sure to remove the candy first. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 1 Helpful 14 How many hours per day should I play with my cat? wikiHow Contributor You should play with your cat about an hour a day. Spread the time out and leave 15-30 minutes of play for the end of the day. This will ensure that your cat will be tired and sleep throughout the night. If you want to play with your cat more, go ahead, but don’t bother your cat constantly to play. Just play when he wants to play. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 1 Helpful 9 Is it a problem if I leave a broom with the cat? Alittlesworld It can be if your cat eats the small fibers on a broom. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 1 Helpful 8 How many times should I bathe a cat? wikiHow Contributor You generally don’t need to bathe a cat. Cats clean themselves and usually hate to be bathed. You can do it in an extreme situation where your cat gets exceptionally dirty and it can’t be cleaned effectively by other means. But usually some pet bath wipes should do the job fine. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 4 I saw a YouTube video of a cat playing with a balloon. Can I use a balloon as cat toy? wikiHow Contributor Cats can play will blown up balloons, but when they pop they tend to frighten our furry friends. If they do pop a balloon, make sure to clean the remains up as soon as possible. Cats tend to like chewing on plastic, and the small pieces of balloon can cause them to choke. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 1 Helpful 7 When I give my cat a toy, he turns nasty and growls, and runs away to hide. Why is he like this? wikiHow Contributor He could be grumpy, or old, or in some kind of pain or discomfort. Watch his behavior, how he moves, and take note of his urination and defacation habits. Anything out of the ordinary should prompt a veterinary visit to check for a condition that could be causing his grumpiness. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 4 Helpful 14 Can I use bottlecaps as a toy for kittens? wikiHow Contributor I wouldn’t recommend it as the edges can be sharp and the kitten could hurt itself. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 1 Helpful 4 Is there a toy I can make out of yarn or string? wikiHow Contributor Most cats/kittens would like just playing with a string that’s being dragged across the floor. But be careful, if the string is too thin, the cat can choke. Always put the string away when finished with it. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 2 Can older cats play with toys too? wikiHow Contributor Many older cats still find a lot of joy playing with toys, however they tend to lose interest faster. You may have to find creative ways to keep your cat motivated to play. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 1 Helpful 1 Can I play fetch with my cat? wikiHow Contributor If your cat likes to play fetch with you, then yes! Many cats love it. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 0 Show more answers
Warnings Don’t use plastic bags as toys. Cats can get caught in the handles, suffocate if they put their head inside the bag, or choke on small pieces of plastic they bite or scratch off of the bag. Cats that get caught up in the handles of a bag (plastic or otherwise) can end up dragging the item around, lose balance and tumble over, maybe down stairs or off a high ledge. Cat play should always be supervised when offering them small objects, string, or other items that can be potentially swallowed, bitten to pieces or that can cause tangling. Do not give your cat toys that he will chew on unless he is supervised. Make sure that your cat cannot eat the pieces of the toy that he pulls off. For instance, rubber bands are easily eaten and can kill your pet by causing an intestinal blockage. Don’t use anything with chocolate, soda, coffee or tea on it. The caffeine and the chocolate is toxic to cats. Because using a light as prey doesn’t give kitty a solid object to catch, he/she may feel frustrated. It is a good idea to use a combination of light and a solid cat toy when involving light in your cat’s playtime. Watch for claws! Even the most gentle and loving cat can get carried away when excited, so don’t get your hands too close during playtime. If you do, wash with an antiseptic rinse immediately and bandage. If you feel sick or feverish, see your doctor. String or thread can be swallowed, so never leave it about and never allow play with such items without supervision. If string reaches the intestinal tract, it can function as a knife on the intestinal walls and create a life-threatening situation. Cats have required surgery or have died from swallowing string and thread. (Keep your sewing and craft items away from cats because they can eat it and get killed by doing so.) Do not let a cat play unsupervised with a toy dangling from a string that has been tied to something. There is a risk of the object becoming wrapped around the cat’s neck and strangling her. Avoid using items that bleed dye easily. The cat’s saliva when chewing and biting will cause the dye to leach into their mouth and all over your carpet and furnishings. Pick up all toys of a potentially harmful nature (string, rubbery items, etc.) before ceasing supervision. Toys that can be left around include things like toilet rolls, scratching posts, boxes and well stitched soft toys, etc.