Dear Homeward Bound: Can cats be happy indoors?

Dear Homeward Bound,
My family is having an argument about whether cats can be happy if they are not allowed outside. My sister says it’s impossible but my Mom and I think she’s wrong and that it’s actually dangerous for cats be allowed outside. What do you think?
Dear Curious,
I’m afraid you’ll have to tell your sister that I completely agree with you and your Mom.
It is true that most cats would probably choose to go outdoors when allowed and that the great outdoors does offer lots of opportunities to chase, hunt, bird watch, climb, stalk, and all the things that cats do love to do. However, it is also full of dangers for cats including car traffic, loose dogs, traps set for wildlife, and poisons used in controlling weeds and rodents to name a few.
House cats who are let outside also run the risk of being attacked by feral cats, wildlife, and, sadly, are at the mercy of people who might wish to do them harm. Cats, even well fed house cats, also predate on bird populations and many of our songbird populations are already at risk.
Last but not least, if a house cat is not fixed (spayed or neutered) he or she will undoubtedly contribute to the feline overpopulation problem that plagues Vermont. Did you know that a male cat can smell a female cat in heat from miles away?
To keep an indoor-only cat happy, all you have to do is bring the great outdoors in. It’s easy! You can meet your cat’s needs by providing cat trees, or other perching stations near windows and set up bird feeders outside for their amusement. There are multiple “kitty videos” available for purchase that provide entertainment as well. Scratching posts can be purchased or made from scrap lumber and carpet. There are many toys on the market that can provide hours of fun … my cat’s favorite is a wand toy with a feather at the end of the flexible wire that can be waved about and leapt at. A toy can also be a simple as a wadded up bit of paper or foil. Old boxes and newspaper make great hiding places for cats and it can be pretty funny to watch as well.
The list of ways, and number of products on the market, to keep indoor cats happy is endless but main thing is to think like a cat when considering your interior decorating.
I hope this information helps convince your sister. I bet the two of you could have fun looking up cat toys on Pinterest.
Homeward Bound

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