Cats and the Indoor Lifestyle

Cats can live a very long life. The oldest feline patient seen by Kirkwood Animal Hospital reached the age of 29 years old. This cat was one of the earliest patients to Kirkwood Animal Hospital, first seen by Dr. Bendick only a few weeks after the hospital opened.

When you decide to get a cat, you have some big decisions to make. The choices you make will very likely dictate how well you and your new cat get along. The biggest decision you will make is about housing. Will your cat be kept indoors, outdoors or a combination both? Either way, Kirkwood Animal Hospital to ensure that you have a great life with this furry new family member.

If you decide on indoor or indoor/outdoor there are some very important things to consider. Cats are much closer to their wild relatives than dogs. They come with some instincts and habits that can place great stress on your relationship with your cat. These instinctive behaviors have the potential to ruin your relationship with the pet, as well as much of your home.

Cats that are appropriately adapted to the indoor environment make excellent pets; but cats that are not adapted to the indoor environment may exhibit behaviors that are destructive to a pet owner’s home.

*Inappropriate behaviors are a common reason that cats are end up in animal shelters, released in the wild, or even unnecessarily euthanized.

The veterinarians at Kirkwood Animal Hospital have over 100 years of combined experience treating and caring for cats. Kirkwood Animal Hospital wants to help cat owners prevent the behaviors that result in relinquishment.

Inappropriate Urination:

Cats that live outdoors, wild cats and feral cats normally mark their territory with urine. Female cats as well as male cats will mark their territory with urine. When a cat is kept indoors the tendency to mark their new territory with urine may still exist. It becomes very important to properly train your cat to the litter box to reduce the chances that your indoor cat will mark their territory indoors. The veterinarians at Kirkwood Animal Hospital believe that crate training your new kitten or cat is the best way to accomplish proper litter box usage. We recommend that the cat owner acquire a training crate that is approximately two feet wide by three feet long by two feet high. The crate should be made of wire so that the kitten or cat can see out of the crate. A litter box is placed in the crate occupying one end of the crate. The cat’s food and water bowl should also fit in the crate. The kitten or cat is placed in the crate whenever the pet owner cannot directly supervise the cat. Direct supervision means that you can see and touch the cat. It is ok to play with cat when it is out of the cage but as soon as you are finished playing, the cat should be returned to the cage. It becomes the goal of the cat owner to ensure that every bowel movement and urination happens in the box for the first three months in your home. After three months start to let the cat out of the cage for about one hour before returning it to the cage. Returning the cat to the cage reinforces the appropriate behavior. After 8-12 months you will notice that your cat’s crate has become their home and they will return there to sleep, rest and sometimes just to get away from you. Your cat will be crate trained. The cat will return to the cage to eat, drink, urinate and defecate. The kitty will be adapted to their indoor environment.

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