In her practice, Dr. Jacqui sees dogs and cats with a variety of behavioral problems from aggression to house-soiling. She frequently lectures to veteranarians and the public about canine and feline behavior.
As your cat's guardian, one of the decisions you are faced with is whether to keep your cat exclusively indoors or to allow your cat an indoor and outdoor lifestyle. It is well established that the risks associated with outdoor access in both urban and rural areas are real and significant. Some of the top risks include disease exposure (e.g., Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), parasites (fleas, heartworm), predators (dogs, coyotes) and trauma (hit by car, cat fights). These risks associated with outdoor access can translate into a shorter lifespan for the cat, suffering for both the cat and its owner and financial burdens for the owner. National animal welfare organizations such as The Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have recognized these substantial risks and are advocates for keeping cats indoors.
Recognizing these risks, one would think that every pet parent would elect to keep their cat exclusively indoors. However pet parents cite concerns about their cat's happiness and litter box odor as being at least two barriers to keeping their cat exclusively indoors. Fortunately, these barriers can be overcome with minimal effort to create an enriched indoor environment and/or creating a safe outdoor experience and the right products to help control litter box odors.
One of the draws of the great outdoors is that it is in constant change: plants grow, wind blows, bugs fly. Making your indoor world more dynamic will keep your cat engaged. Some simple ways to do this include:
If you still want to incorporate an outdoor experience for your cat without putting your cat at risk, consider enclosing your yard with commercially available special fencing designed to contain a cat (i.e., Cat Fence In® and Purrfect Fencing®) or creating an outdoor pen for your cat. Other options include training your cat to walk on a harness and leash so that you can enjoy daily outings together (i.e., Come With Me Kitty Harness & Leash) or taking your cat for a walk in a stroller specially designed for pets.
To help manage litter box odor, the two most important steps are using a high-quality litter with good odor control like Fresh Step® scoopable litter with odor-eliminating carbon and regularly scooping solid excrement from the box. Carbon, which is an ingredient in all Fresh Step® litter products, helps provide maximum odor control between scoopings. This helps provide a litter box environment that is pleasing to both the people and the cats. Daily scooping and removal of solid excrement is advised to help maintain a clean box.
By taking these small steps you can help your cat to live a long, healthy and happy indoor life!