Cat overpopulation in the Portland metro area can be reduced, and we can do it with your help! The first thing all cat owners and caregivers can do is spay/neuter their cats. Next, find alternatives to letting your cat roam freely unsupervised. It is safer for your cat and native wildlife. Maybe your current cat isn’t a candidate for the indoor lifestyle. Consider reducing his or her time outside - especially when birds are nesting and fledging. And consider keeping your next cat indoors. Each step adds up and helps.
Successfully Bring Your Outdoor Cat Inside
We understand that people feel very strongly about letting their cats roam freely or keeping them indoors. The decision comes from a place of love and wanting what is best for the cat. Those who let their cats roam freely want to enrich their cats’ lives and allow them to just be cats. Those who keep them indoors are concerned about many perils including diseases, parasites, automobile traffic, poisoning, the Portland area’s healthy population of coyotes, and simply getting lost.
Lost cat signs are common sites throughout our city, and with each one comes a sense of loss that can be prevented. If this happened to you, you already may be thinking about keeping your next cat closer to home.
You may also have attended one of our Catio Tours, or been following recent reports detailing domestic cats' devastating impact on urban wildlife, and have been inspired to try giving your cat a new indoor lease on life.
If you have ever wondered how you might transition your cat to living indoors, here’s some inspiration and suggestions for making Kitty the happiest housecat on the block. (Many thanks to the Humane Society of the United States for many of these great ideas.)
Create an Indoor Sanctuary
A luxurious indoor environment may be all your cat needs to become a convert. While you make the transition to indoor living, introduce items such as:
a cozy bed in a sunny location
a scratching post
something to climb that provides a view of the indoor and outdoor world from above
areas for hiding, such as brown paper bags or cardboard boxes
new toys for indoor enrichment
And be sure to check out our indoor enrichment idea page
Take your Time
You'll have the most success if you gradually transition your cat indoors until their new way of life becomes second nature. Be prepared for a little lashing out against the new lifestyle — scratching at doors, clawing at windows, yowling, trying various escape tactics, and other feline performances.
Start with baby steps, like always feeding your cat indoors.
After meals, instead of letting them out immediately, keep them inside for gradually longer periods each day.
Keep cats indoors during dawn and dusk hours and gradually increase the amount of indoor time around dawn and dusk.
- For the feline escape artist that's forever bolting toward open doors, train or lure them away from the open door. Run practice trials where you leave the door ajar and squirt them with a water gun or rattle a jar of coins to startle them. Also try luring them the other way by tossing a treat in the opposite direction. The goal is not to punish the cat but to associate the door with something unpleasant.
Make Indoor Life Fun!
Cats have been domesticated for thousands of years but they still have wild behaviors deeply encoded in their DNA. Have fun with this by providing varied enrichment that honors your cat’s unique behavior. Ideas include:
Toys that allow your cat to express instincts such as stalking, chasing, and pouncing. Even simple items like a bottle cap can provide endless entertainment.
An indoor planter containing feline favorites such as catnip and wheat grass for them to chew on (available at pet supply stores).
Train him to walk on a cat harness and leash, and take him for a stroll.
Give her lots of your time and attention — set aside play time each day.
Consider building a catio — a fully-enclosed outdoor cat-patio — attached to the house where your cat can enjoy an outdoor experience.
Ultimately, do your best not to give in to their requests to go out, and distract them with play. As one out of every four common bird species faces serious population declines, help us keep common birds 'common' by decreasing the human-caused hazards they face. Even small steps toward keeping your cat indoors can make a positive impact.