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Turn an Outdoor Cat into an Indoor Cat


Since you aren’t familiar with the cat’s habits yet, when it comes time to bring her out of the sanctuary room, you’ll have to pay attention to whether she tends to want to steal food off the counters or chew on things she shouldn’t. Watch carefully because you may have to do some training to keep kitty off the counter. In the meantime, make sure food isn’t left out.

Watch for behaviors such as chewing electrical cords or trying to play with dangling cords. You may need to secure dangling wires, use cord containment devices and coat all exposed cords with a bitter anti-chew product.

Watch for Cat Escapes

When it comes time to open the sanctuary room door, you’ll then have to deal with the risk the cat may try to bolt out the front door when she sees an opportunity. Make sure everyone in the family is on the same page in terms of training and making sure kitty’s whereabouts are known before anyone opens a door.

black cat looking out window

Photo: Pam Johnson-Bennett

Creating a Safe “Outdoor” Experience for Your Cat

If you want to still allow your cat to have some exposure to the outdoors, consider doing it in a very safe way by creating or purchasing a sturdy outdoor enclosure. You can find all types of enclosures from small ones to elaborate designs.

Cat Environmental Enrichment

To keep your cat convinced that being indoors is a good thing, make sure you’ve increased environmental enrichment. Place little toys around the house for her to find, toss puzzle feeders around, maintain a schedule of interactive playtime, and more. Be creative in ways to increase the fun factor. Grow some kitty greens for your cat (rye, wheat or oat) so she can munch on safe greens the way she might have done outdoors. It’s common for cats to nibble on grass.

quote from georgia spca


Because the outdoor environment holds lots of opportunities for hunting, adventure and exploration, you have to provide that (without actually providing live prey of course) for the transitioning indoor cat. Schedule playtime, keep things interesting, maybe set up a cat entertainment DVD or play cat-appealing You Tube videos and don’t allow the indoors to become boring.

Cat Training and Manners

Once the trust-building process is well underway and the cat is starting to explore the house, begin a training program. Make sure everyone is on the same page about this so training will be consistent. Decide where she is and isn’t allowed to go and don’t send mixed messages. For example, keeping kitty off the counter, off the dining table, etc.


  1. Jeani Le Breton

    I have started keeping my fixed male Siamese indoors after he was trapped by the local pre school. He is driving us insane with his constant whining, screaming, etc. we have tried spraying him with water, it’s just not working, is there any way to discourage this wailing?

  2. Christian Meland

    I have done most of the things written in the article above.They now come and go as they like through a cat door.
    And now they sure know where their home is and where the food is. With two of them I slept on the floor in the cat room.
    So they wouldn’t feel lonley. That helped. Now they are like normal housecats with freedom. But it takes patience. You cannot force anything with cats. Everything has to be at their pace.

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