Are you lucky enough to share your life with a feline companion? If you’re like me, your kitties mean the world to you and their health and safety are your top priorities!

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Cats are playful, adventurous creatures, so letting them roam around outdoors may seem like a good idea, but in this day and age, the outside world can be a dangerous place for felines. Kitties belong indoors for a number of reasons, including these:

1. “Outdoor cats” are more likely to contract deadly illnesses like feline leukemia, which is highly contagious.

2. Kitties who live outdoors are also more prone to getting fleas!

3. Not everyone is nice to cats (hard to believe, I know). There are people out there who are a threat to animals, and you never know who your furry bestie could come across. Some people have been known to torment cats, poison them, burn their whiskers off, abuse them, shoot them, or even set them on fire! 🙁

4. Cats who are neglected and left outside are often attacked by other animals (especially dogs) and have a higher chance of getting into freak accidents or being hit by a car.

5. Many cats who live outdoors have been found frozen to death.

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The bottom line: The concrete jungle poses a major threat to cats, so it’s best to leave them indoors with the family. But that doesn’t mean they have to live a life of boredom without any physical activity. There are a ton of easy ways to keep them happy. Check it out:

1. Spoil them with toys. From paper bags and rolled-up balls of foil to motorized “mice” and laser pointers, toys perk up even the laziest feline.

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2. Satisfy their scratching needs. Cats love to scratch. Doing so enables them to remove broken claws, stretch their muscles, and mark “territory.” The best way to save your furniture is to provide lots of “approved” places to scratch. Cat “trees” and posts, cardboard scratching boxes, and those ingenious “cat tracks” (a toy that has a ball for them to play with that’s surrounded by a cardboard scratching pad) are big hits. Sprinkle catnip on the toys weekly to keep cats interested, and be sure to replace cardboard inserts when they get worn out.

3. Provide a room with a view. Windows are like TVs for cats—a birdbath or bird feeder that’s placed near a window can provide hours of entertainment. If window sills aren’t wide enough, build or buy a cushioned perch (available from companion-animal supply stores and catalogs) to attach to the sill. For safe window-sill perching, make sure that double-hung windows (ones that move up and down) are propped open with a book or a piece of wood to prevent them from falling down on cats, and tuck the cords of blinds up and out of the way so that their necks and other body parts don’t get entangled in them.

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4. Make them purr with a porch. A screened-in porch or an enclosure that’s accessible through a window is a great way for your kitty to experience nature while staying safe.

5. Take your kitty on walks. Cats can be taught to walk on a leash—just be sure to use an ultra-lightweight, retractable leash that’s attached to a harness, not a collar. Let your cat first get used to wearing the harness by putting it on him or her for short periods of time indoors, and then when the cat seems comfortable, pick a safe outdoor area to explore.

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6. Plant a garden—of catnip. Cats will nibble on it and roll in it—they LOVE this stuff! Other healthy, cat-safe snacks include wheatgrass, alfalfa, and oat grass. You can even buy seed-starter kits at companion-animal supply stores.

After all, your kitties are a part of the family, so make them feel that way!

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For more tips on how to let your cat safely enjoy the outdoors, check out our Cat Leash Training Guide!

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