Dear PetLvr Mailbag,
We moved a couple years ago, and the cat went from being an outside/inside cat to wholly an inside cat. He seems really really bored though, looking for ways to help him transition easier- he’s not getting any exercise and he’s gained a lot of weight. I’ve tried a lot of different toys, but nothing seems to amuse him.
How can I help him be happy and healthy in his new lifestyle?
The Mean Mommy Who Won’t Let Kitty Out
Dear “Mean Mommy,”
First of all, good on you for choosing to keep your cat inside! He’ll be safer and live longer indoors.
If you own your home, one of my favorite cat amusement devices is a carpet remnant hung on one wall of a room. If you want to get fancy with it, it can actually look pretty nice; or, if it’s just the spare bedroom and you got some ugly carpet remnants free, just nail it onto the wall so the wall is carpeted for about six feet up. Scratching and climbing that helps to replace tree climbing for a newly indoor cat.
You could also consider adding a second cat to the household. Cats in multi-cat households tend to live longer and are less prone to obesity. If that’s not an option, perhaps a small fish tank would capture your cat’s attention (not a fish bowl). A bird feeder outside the cat’s favorite window is another good one. My indoor cat spends most mornings watching the squirrels pilfer my expensive bird seed while the birds wait patiently for their turn.
And, of course, there’s always the old standby: A few big paper bags with catnip sprinkled in them.
If he really won’t adjust, you could consider purchasing a large cat cage (Petsmart and Petco sell them) and letting him go outside in the cat cage for a couple hours on your days off, or screen in a porch for him to go outside. A harness and leash are also possibilities if your cat is very tolerant.
As for the weight problem, have you adjusted his diet to his new lifestyle? If he’s still eating the same formula and amount he did as an indoor/outdoor cat, no wonder he’s packing on the pounds. He’s probably burning far fewer calories, but consuming the same number. Cut back his food slowly, by 10% per week, until he begins to lose weight at a healthy rate. He should lose no more than a few ounces each week in order to keep his internal organs functioning optimally.
If he seems hungry as you cut back his food, add some cooked green beans or a few leaves of Romaine lettuce, if he’ll eat them. Many cats enjoy these items and the bulk, while low in calories, helps them feel full.
Finally, consider a cat fountain. He probably is accustomed to drinking from puddles and dripping hoses while roaming outdoors, and his hydration level may have decreased since moving inside. Most cats drink more from fountains and dishes, and adequate hydration can help with weight loss and overall health.
If you have a pet related question that you would like Jelena Woehr to answer here in our “PetLvr Mailbag” series … send your question to jelena (at) PetLvr (dot) com