At first glance, everyone knows someone whose cat seems to have adapted very well to the confinement imposed by living in an apartment. You can even find advantages, such as security. A cat in an apartment is not at risk of being hit by a car. He is unlikely to fight stray cats and catch certain infectious diseases like FIV.
The apartment is therefore in a way a golden prison that some individuals will tolerate better than others. Before making the decision to keep a cat in an apartment, you must be fully aware of what this implies for him in order to be able to best compensate for his deprivations.
Which cat to choose for living in an apartment?
First and foremost, you have to choose a kitten who has never experienced outdoor life. Indeed, as Dr Joël Dehasse, behavioral veterinarian, writes, “a free-born cat must live free. […] the cat determines the reference criteria of its environment before 9 weeks: it is imperative to respect these criteria to preserve a good mental balance ”. 
A cat in an apartment must be perfectly socialized, and able to control its claws and teeth during games, for example. A kitten will be well socialized if it has been handled and petted regularly between two and seven weeks. To know if your kitten has good self-controls, hang it by the skin of the neck: it should come to a stop instantly. If he struggles, it might be better to choose another.
Meeting the needs of an indoor cat
The cat in an apartment needs a rich and structured universe. For its well-being, separate areas must be set up: one or more feeding points, litter, several rest areas, and hiding places. Feeding, sleeping, and bedding areas should be clearly separated in space, and should not be located in a passageway or near a noisy device. It is not wise, for example, to place your bowl in the immediate vicinity of the litter box. This is how this territorial animal is organized in nature. As far as possible, it is better to avoid moving the furniture because the cat affixes scent marks to “mark out” its territory.
Cats really appreciate being able to gain height. All accessible shelves will be welcome. If your apartment is small, this is a good way to increase the space available for the cat. Cat trees are a big distraction for some, others will not pay them the slightest attention. They will be ideally located near the sleeping area. Scratchers will also be used with varying degrees of success. To make them more attractive, you can rub them with an olive pit, or scratch them yourself with a fork dipped in olive oil, a very exciting smell to the cat. In general, the most stable scratching posts will be preferred by the cat (those in cardboard boxes are light, unstable, and often little used).
On the other hand, it is important to have periods of play with him, including in adulthood, and to leave toys at his disposal during the day to counter boredom. You have to try as much as possible to vary the activities. The challenge is to find a toy that stimulates him and doesn’t tire him too quickly.
Regarding food, given the very reduced physical activity of indoor cats, it is better to opt for a low-calorie food. Many manufacturers offer specially formulated kibble for cats in the apartment. It is preferable to regularly monitor the evolution of your cat’s weight and to quickly seek advice from your veterinarian in the event of abnormal weight gain. Some toys can both stimulate the cat and release food in small amounts. The most common are perforated tubes that the cat must roll to release the kibble. In general, cats have a lot of fun, but most of them have the disadvantage of being noisy, and spreading kibble dust throughout the apartment. Other equally stimulating toys consist of placing food on a game board, or simply in a cup fixed to the ground, to encourage the cat to grab the kibble with the paw. It is entirely possible to make these toys the only food source for your cat.
Never leave your cat on the balcony unattended. Defenestrations are more frequent than you think, and all falls can be serious, from the 2nd floor to the 5th floor. Likewise, be careful not to leave a window open if you are not in the room. However, do not deprive your cat of a balcony or terrace, which is an element of considerable distraction and well-being.
Games and entertainment should allow you to avoid “predatory attacks”, which are a frequent problem with cats in apartments: due to lack of activity, the cat attacks the owner’s legs. If despite everything these attacks persist, it is strongly advised to turn to a behaviorist veterinarian to set up an appropriate treatment in order to reduce the cat’s level of excitement. Sometimes you will have to resolve in spite of everything to find him a house with a garden.
Should we vaccinate, deworm, identify and sterilize a cat that does not go out?
– Sterilization: The advantages from a medical point of view also apply to indoor cats. Regarding males, sterilization will have the advantage of reducing arousal and urinary marking behavior, but will constitute, in addition to confinement, a second factor promoting excessive weight gain.
– Vaccination: Vaccination is still recommended for cats living in an apartment. Indeed, some viruses are very resistant in the outside environment, and you can bring them home through your clothes or your shoes (this is the case for example of the Calicivirus responsible for Coryza). Remember to wash your hands well after coming into contact with another cat. In addition, even if he does not have free access to the outside, your cat may occasionally have to consult a veterinarian, be kept … and meet fellow creatures.
– Identification: identification by chip or tattoo is compulsory for all cats born after January 1, 2012, whether or not they live in an apartment.
Walking your cat on a leash: a good idea?
Some apartment cat owners opt for walks on a leash. This can be a source of distraction for the cat, by confronting it with situations, smells, noises that are out of the ordinary. To do this, equip it with a harness. The collars are absolutely not adapted to the morphology of the cat, which will be able to emerge from them. Begin with adoption by making him wear the harness alone, then, once he is well tolerated, attach a light leash to it, leaving it trailing behind him. Nylon leashes are ideal because they are flexible, light, and easily washable. The third step is to hold the leash while following the cat in its movements. Finally, you can encourage him to follow you by calling him, by enticing him with a toy or a treat. It should not in any case be forced. The first outings should be short, in a quiet place. Afterwards, you can go out on the street at quiet hours. If the cat is scared of something, take it in your arms, and go inside. All of this once again requires having a well-balanced and socialized cat.
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