Most cats are extremely well-suited to living indoors for their entire lives. In fact, many veterinarians and breeders recommend that cats be kept inside at all times, for their own health and welfare. Unless they escape, cats that live exclusively indoors don't get run over by cars, bitten by dogs or other cats or infested with nasty parasites. They also have a greatly reduced risk of contracting infectious diseases from other domestic or wild animals. Because of the widely available variety of high-quality commercial feline foods, today's cats don't need to supplement their diets by hunting mice, birds, rats or other small critters. They also don't need to be outdoors to exercise. There are hundreds of different cat toys available at pet supply stores and websites that will keep indoor cats occupied and active for hours on end. Creative owners can use their imaginations to come up with other was to get their cats to stretch their legs inside the home: empty paper bags, peacock feathers and socks stuffed with catnip (tied off at the top) are always good options. Cats enjoy the opportunity to engage in their instinctive behaviors, such as stalking, pouncing, playing, rolling around, scratching, stretching and sprinting with great bursts of speed and sudden stops. They need the opportunity to engage in these activities daily, whether they live inside or out. No owner wants to come home to find her beautiful armchair or sofa shredded by her bored cat, who apparently thought it was a good substitute for a tree on which to sharpen its claws.
Despite their seeming aloofness at times, most cats are extremely social and do well living together, as long as they are properly introduced to their housemates. It is especially nice to have at least two cats in an apartment or other household where the owner is gone many hours at a stretch, such as working a 9-to-5 job. This will give both animals companionship, social interaction and a playmate, even though they probably will sleep most of the time. Many indoor cats thoroughly enjoy having a windowsill ledge to perch on, which allows them to lounge in their leisurely feline way, bask in the warm sunshine and watch the world going by. Cats are nocturnal by nature; they are naturally more active at night than during the daytime. Most cat fights, unintended breeding and automobile-related injuries happen at night. Even if a mostly indoor cat is permitted to go outside from time to time, it should be brought inside at night, for its own safety. Of course, indoor cats need to have free access to a clean litter-box at all times. It is best to have several litter-boxes in appropriate locations throughout the home, especially if more than one cat lives there.
In addition to the benefits of indoor living, there are some risks that go along with keeping a cat exclusively inside. One of the biggest dangers for cats living in high-rise homes is that they can fall from a balcony or open window. Owners living in high places must be sure that they have some sort of netting, fencing or other barrier around balconies and windows that open, even if they don't normally permit their cat to have access to those areas. These precautionary barriers can be camouflaged by plants or other tasteful decorations. It is essential that all doors and windows are secured against escape. If a cat is allowed onto an uncovered deck for a breath of fresh air, it should be on a harness and leash. Escaped cats, and those left unrestrained on balconies, account for many fatalities every year.
Even inside the home, cats (especially kittens) are at risk of falling from heights. Staircases with open banisters are particularly dangerous to young cats, which can leap from the stairs and fall without finding their footing. Cats jumping from high places do not always land on their feet, despite the old wives' tale to the contrary. Washing machines and dryers, and refrigerators and freezers (especially old ones that are not plugged in), are favorite cat attractions. Any washer or dryer should be checked for a kitty before it is turned on, if a kitty lives in the house. Electric glass-topped or coil-ringed stoves are another source of danger for indoor cats. When the delightful smell of food wafts throughout the apartment or other dwelling, it can be hard for a cat to resist. It is not difficult for a cat to leap up onto a kitchen counter and step onto the stove-top to explore an intriguing scent. This has led to a number of severe paw injuries in companion felines.
Electric cords, cables and wires are common sources of intrigue for indoor cats. When possible, they should be tucked beneath a rug or covered with some other cat-proof material to reduce the risk of the cat chewing through them. Fireplaces should be completely screened-off, even when there is no fire burning. Cats are notorious for climbing up chimneys, where they can become stuck or even fall. Small potentially edible objects, such as paper clips, safety pins and rubber bands, as well as thread, string and yarn, should always be stored in areas that are inaccessible to cats.
All in all, sharing quarters with an indoor cat can be a wonderful, extremely fulfilling experience. Cats have boundless energy and are remarkably smart and personable. You can choose a couch-potato kitty or an exuberant feline athlete. Either way, they will add immeasurably to the pleasure of your life.