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Indoor Cats

It’s a Winnipeg by-law that all cats should be kept indoors. If that’s not enough of a reason to keep you cat indoors, consider the other issues involved with letting your cat wander.

Please visit the City of Winnipeg Animal Services and By-laws page to learn more

Keeping indoor cats healthy and happy

It is a Winnipeg by-law that all cats be kept indoors. Please visit the City of Winnipeg Animal Services website to learn more.

Cats on the prowl outside face many dangers, including:

  • being hit by a car ingesting a poison like antifreeze or a pesticide
  • being trapped by an unhappy neighbor
  • being attacked by a roaming dog, cat or wild animal
  • contracting a disease from another animal
  • being lost and unable to find her way home

Cats are predators; solitary hunters by nature, hunting mice, bugs, and small birds given the opportunity. Cats are also prey animals that can be hunted by larger carnivores. They hide and climb to keep safe. You can keep your indoor cat happy by providing opportunities to engage in these normal cat behaviours, avoiding the dangers encountered by cats outdoors.

Scratching and climbing structures

provide opportunities to engage in natural behaviours while saving your carpets and furniture.

  • The structures should be sturdy enough that they do not tip over and frighten your cat when she uses them.
  • The preferred texture for scratching posts is a rough material that they can shred.
  • Sisal rope, carpeting, and cardboard are examples of materials that are used for scratching posts and pads.
  • There should be several scratching and climbing opportunities throughout the house.
  • These items should be kept in “public” areas of the house so the cat can enjoy time with the family.

Provide “prey” type toys

that your cat can chase, bat and toss around while play hunting.

  • Toys that wiggle or dangle from a stick or wand and require your participation help strengthen relationship between cat and human.
  • Feather toys, toy mice, small, lightweight balls like ping pong balls are great for solitary play.
  • Puzzle toys that your cat can roll around to access their cat food are a great choice. These are available in pet stores or can be easily constructed from household “trash” such as cardboard tubes and single serving plastic yogurt cups.
  • There are cat videos and audios available with sights and sounds of birds and small rodents.
  • Make your out “Kitty TV” by placing a bird or squirrel feeder outside a window and a perch for your cat inside the window.

Safe resting areas

are important as cats are most vulnerable when they are sleeping. They need to feel safe.

  • Cats prefer elevated resting areas and places that they can partially or fully hide.
  • You can purchase a cat bed or make one out of blankets or towels.
  • Their resting places should be in a quiet area of the house, where they can feel safe and comfortable.

Preventing indoor cats from escaping

If you have a kitty escape artist, there are ways to keep your cat safely indoors.

Cat-proofing exits

can take some vigilance, but it will pay off.

  • Check your windows and doors so that they are securely latched and have intact screens.
  • Keep an eye out for escape opportunities and attempts.
  • Practice with children to show them how to leave the house without letting out the cat. Teach them to watch for the cat, open the door slowly, turn back toward the inside of the house as they exit the door, and close the door securely, with the cat inside.

Humane deterrents at doorways

can help keep your kitty safe. Noise making deterrents can be stressful and if you feel it is detrimental to your cat, discontinue using them.

  • Seal a few pennies inside an aluminum can and keep it near the doorway. Each time a family member is going to leave the home, they give it a shake. They will associate the noise with people leaving and it will discourage your cat from approaching the door as people leave.
  • A motion activated sound alarm will also deter your cat from the area of the door.
  • SpraySentry detects movement within several feet of the door and will deliver a short burst of compressed air.

Neuter your male cat

  • Neutering can decrease your male’s desire to roam away from home.
  • Neutering can also decrease unwanted behaviours such as spraying and make him better behaved in general.

Provide safe outdoor opportunities

Train your cat to walk on a harness and leash. There are special harnesses for cats so they can be securely walked with their families.

Create a secure outdoor enclosure

Your cat can enjoy the exciting sights, smells and sounds of outdoors in a safe and secure environment. The enclosure should be completely enclosed, such as a screened in porch. An enclosure that won’t allow the cat to climb up the walls or jump out can be constructed. If there is no top on the enclosure, the walls should be at least seven feet high and capped with a fence ledge that angles toward the interior, at least one foot. Of course there must be shade and water at all times.

Visit the INDOOR CAT INITIATIVE at for more ideas to keep your cat safe, healthy, and happy.