No place like home ... Give your cat a fun, fabulous inner life

PUSSABILITY: Let your imagination go wild and create a feline funhouse. Picture: Shutterstock
PUSSABILITY: Let your imagination go wild and create a feline funhouse. Picture: Shutterstock

Whether you've just adopted a new cat or kitten, or are considering how best to care for your existing cat, this is for you.

We now know that cats can be safe and happy at home, avoiding the dangers of roaming.

Many cat owners are now providing a safe and suitable environment for their cat at home all day, every day.

Keeping your cat safe and happy at home means providing for all their needs, including many that may previously have been met by roaming outdoors.

Meeting these needs in other ways requires forward thinking and a little imagination and commitment, but you don't have to do it alone.

We're here to help explain how you and your cat can live at home in harmony together.

Why should I keep my cat contained?

By keeping your cat contained at home, you can: reduce the risk of them getting sick, being hurt or dying in an accident; reduce the risk that they will stray and be lost or impounded by the council; minimise the risk that they will harm or kill other animals; prevent them from interacting with undesexed roaming cats; avoid problems with your neighbours; and give your cat a better chance to enjoy a longer, healthier life.

Ensure your cat has the resources they need

Many cats will transition successfully to life solely at home without roaming, as long as you provide them with everything they need and transition them gradually to being contained.

Your cat will still require places to rest, play and toilet, and opportunities to perform normal behaviours such as climbing, scratching, pouncing, stalking and exploring.

As a guide, for one cat you will need at least two litter trays, two feed stations (puzzle feeders or food bowls), two water bowls, three different types of scratching surfaces (for example, vertical, horizontal, carpet, sisal rope) and three resting/hiding places in different locations.

If you have several cats, you'll need to provide more resources in more locations (at least one more of each per extra cat), as cats don't always like to share.

Make sure your cat's environment is interesting

Environmental enrichment can be achieved through providing opportunities for your cat to scratch, run, jump, hide, play, smell, taste and see different things, as well as through interacting with people they like and other compatible animals.

You are only limited by your imagination, but some examples include tall multi-level cat scratch towers, shelving to make platforms and high walkways for your cat, purpose-built tall, multi-level cat furniture and using steps or ramps to allow your cat to access tops of cupboards, and making these places comfortable for them with a bed or box to hide in.

Ideally cats should have access to the outdoors via an escape-proof enclosure or specialised backyard fencing, so they can experience the benefits of outdoors in a safe way.

REWARDS: Food puzzles and treat balls can provide additional enrichment as well as physical and mental stimulation. Picture: Shutterstock

REWARDS: Food puzzles and treat balls can provide additional enrichment as well as physical and mental stimulation. Picture: Shutterstock

If you have a balcony or verandah that can be cat-proofed through the use of netting, or if you have the space for a cat-proof enclosure in your backyard, these are other great options to provide outdoor spaces that are still contained.

This safe and contained outdoor access can help cats who have experienced roaming outdoors beyond the owner's property boundary to adjust better to being confined at home.

Quality time with your cat is essential

It is important to ensure that you spend enough quality time with your cat, including playing with them, grooming them, giving them cuddles and even training them.

Try hiding their favourite treats in different locations around the house for them to find, or use a food ball or puzzle feeder where your cat plays with the ball/puzzle to get the treat.

Thank you for providing a loving home for your feline friend.

Find plenty of information on keeping your cat safe and happy at home on our Safe and Happy Cats website and RSPCA Knowledgebase.