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Can Indoor Cats Live Happy, Fulfilling Lives? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ


Apr 13, 2023
cat lying on the windowsill

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are wonderful pets and are second only to dogs in popularity among Americans1. However, since many people keep them indoors, it’s natural to wonder if they are living happy and fulfilling lives. Keep reading as we explore the facts and frequently asked questions about indoor cats, so you can improve your cat’s livelihood and ensure that they get enough exercise and stimulation.


Can Indoor Cats Live Happy and Fulfilling Lives?

Yes. While cats like to spend time outside, it isn’t necessary for their happiness. In fact, since they don’t have to face the many dangers outside from predators and traffic nor do they need to hunt for each meal, they can be quite content living inside. Cats only need access to food, water, and a litter box to live, and affection, attention, toys, and plenty of treats will keep them happy and engaged. However, since they don’t need to hunt, indoor cats will need plenty of mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and frustration.

bengal cat being cuddled
Image Credit: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek, Shutterstock

What Are the Benefits of Keeping My Cat Indoors?

  • Indoor cats are less likely to be attacked by predators, involved in territory disputes, or struck by moving traffic.
  • They are less likely to suffer injuries from objects or terrain and from exposure to extreme weather.
  • Indoor cats are less likely to suffer from fleas, ticks, and mosquitos, which are difficult to control and can spread disease.
  • Indoor cats are more likely to be spayed or neutered and are less likely to be involved with mating disputes or suffer problems resulting from pregnancy.
  • Since indoor cats aren’t subject to as many dangers as outdoor pets, they tend to live longer.
  • Indoor cats are less likely to cause harm to the local wildlife, which can be significant in some cases, with sources suggesting that cats have two to 10 times the effect on local wildlife as other predators2.
  • Your indoor cat will bond with you better because you will spend more time near each other.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Keeping Cats Indoors?

  • Indoor cats can get bored without enough mental and physical stimulation, leading to bad behavior like scratching the furniture or curtains or becoming more vocal.
  • Indoor cats also tend to be heavier than outdoor cats because it’s hard for them to exercise enough, and many people feed them too much. In fact, sources suggest that up to 60% of domestic cats are overweight, which can lead to serious health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, urinary issues, and even cancer3.
  • Some cats can suffer from increased stress if there isn’t enough space in the home to explore and move around.
sad lonely cat
Image Credit: medveda, Shutterstock


How Can I Help Ensure That My Indoor Cat Is Happy?

1. Interactive Toys

Interactive toys, like cat-treat puzzles, can help stimulate your cat’s mind and keep them entertained so they don’t get bored. Other popular toys include laser pens, stuffed animals, and scratching posts.

2. Playtime

Your cat will often go off on their own adventures while you watch TV or sleep, but it’s important to set aside time each day to play with your cat. Doing so is not only fun for both of you, but it also helps strengthen your bond and helps them burn off extra energy that might cause them to misbehave while you sleep.

bearded man playing with his cat
Image Credit: Nataliabiruk, Shutterstock

3. Cat Trees

Cat trees can help provide more places for your cat to explore and survey their territory. Most cats will seek out a high spot, so this will help make them happy and might even reduce stress.

4. Window Perch

While a cat tree will help your pet lord over their territory indoors, a window perch will enable them to see what’s happening outside. Your cat will love watching birds and other animals, and it can help improve their happiness considerably.

fat calico cat sleeping in the window perch
Image Credit: Lisa A. Ernst, Shutterstock

5. High-Quality Food

Feed your cat high-quality cat food with real meat like chicken, turkey, or salmon listed as the first ingredient. This is less likely to lead to obesity and other health problems. Low-quality brands are more likely to use food coloring and chemical preservatives like BHT that can be dangerous to your pet and cause problems with the liver and kidneys. It’s also important to follow portion control suggestions and prevent overfeeding.

6. Regular Vet Visits

Your cat may disagree that taking them to the vet makes them happy, but it’s important for them to get regular checkups to catch any health issues quickly so they are more likely to live a long and happy life.

snowshoe cat being checked by vet
Image Credit: Yuliya Alekseeva, Shutterstock

7. Cleanliness

A good way to reduce everyone’s stress is to keep the home clean and free of clutter. Even more important is keeping the litter box clean, as many cats won’t use it if it’s dirty, and they may go outside the box instead. Many experts recommend keeping one litter box for each cat, plus one more. More litter boxes will help reduce stress if you need more time between cleanings.



Indoor cats can live a happy and fulfilling life indoors if you provide them with food, water, a clean litter box, and plenty of affection. Cats usually enjoy being around their owners, and keeping them inside can help keep them safe and extend their lifespan. However, you must provide mental and physical stimulation to replace the hunting that they will no longer do. Interactive toys, plenty of playtime, cat trees, and window perches can help keep your cat entertained, making them less likely to become bored.

Featured Image Credit: Vasylchenko, Shutterstock

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