Hi all, I am about to take a kitty soon, and this is my first experience owning a cat. So I've been wondering: what is the best environment for cats? Shall I let her out or keep in all the time? What special devices must a home with a cat have? I'll be waiting for your replies, thanks! ^^
Hello, if you want to provide you kitty with the best and friendly environment, at first you have to make up your mind: are you going to let it out?

Cats can live indoors, outdoors, and both indoors and outdoors. Indoor cats live longer because they have to face less dangerous factors such as vehicles, poisoning, contagious diseases and parasites, injuries from fighting, extreme weather, animal cruelty, various wild animals, etc. However, indoor-only cats may suffer from depression or frustration if the environment doesn't meet their natural behaviour needs such as hiding, chasing, climbing, jumping and pouncing.

So if you decided to keep your cat indoors, here are some tips to make it happy:
  • Buy special cat toys (feathery and furry) that move and, thus, imitate small prey. You may also want to get some toys filled with catnip, but beware that this plant can easily make some cats hyperactive or agressive.
  • Any cat loves observing the world and breath in fresh air, so make some perch areas near windows for your cat to enjoy.
  • Make sure your cat's scratching post has high perches.
  • Outdoor cats often munch different plants, so plant a pot of such greens for your cat at home. Cat grass or alfalfa will work just fine.
  • From time to time, hide some treats in the house and encourage your cat to find them.
  • Play with your cat, interact with it every day. Just like human beings, cats like attention!
I guess I have to say a couple of words about encouraging your cat to find treats. You could buy, for example, a remote doorbell, a buzzer or anything that makes a distinct noise. Then, try to associate this sound with a treat. Press the buzzer and give a treat right away. Then hide the buzzer somewhere in the house with a treat near it. Press the buzzer and watch how your cat is trying to find the treat, as if it was "hunting". I believe that both you and your cat will have a lot of fun. Emotion: smile

Hope that helps. I'll write more later, I have to go now.

Okay, I am back.
So as I've said, indoor cats have a safer environment. But some cats can be really upset being at home all the time, so you just have to let them out. If this happens, you generally have several choices:
  • Train your cat to a leash or harnes.
  • Build a special cat enclosure.
  • A cat collar (reflective, with a bell) to put your cat's ID tag there is never excessive for outdoor cats.
A bell will not make a cat a worse hunter. Cats with bells can hunt just as well as those without it.

Moreover, if you decide to let your cat out, take into account these factors:

- Feed it only at a certain time to train it to come back home.
- Make sure your cat has an easy access into the house or a shelter in the backyard so it could always hide from chasing dogs or cats, if needs be.
- Train your kitty to respond to a whisltle. Just like with a buzzer: blow it every time you feed your cat or give it a treat.
Whistle only when you are sure your cat will be safe running to you, because it may start running across the street without any caution.

By the way, once you let your cat outdoors, it may be really difficult to make it an indoor-only cat again. Cats unwillingly change their habits, and the outdoors is always so attractive!

Wow ireney, you gave a really detailed answer. I must confess that even though my cat does have a scratching post, I've missed some points of your "best home for a cat" description. Very useful, thank you!

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