We all understand the simple pleasures of sharing our homes and our hearts with animals. Coming home after a long day at work to be welcomed by a feline friend weaving around our legs, purring in delight, wipes out the day’s stresses in an instant. The sight of a wagging tail at the window as we pull into the drive, of a rabbit stretching languidly in a pool of sunlight fanned across the living room floor – these are the simple pleasures that pets bring.
Your pets may live indoors permanently (leaving aside those essential, and always enjoyable(!) trips to the vets as required). In some cases this is through your choice, in others it is out of necessity. There is debate about the pros and cons, rights and wrongs, and to an extent it depends on the species and individual animal in question.
Regardless, if you share your home with an indoor pet, it is essential to do what you can to keep him/her happy and healthy. We have put together some top tips for anyone with a house rabbit, cat or dog, which we hope you will find useful:
- Keeping rabbits indoors means that you and your family get to interact with them much more. There’s also the added advantage of keeping him or her safe from predators.
- Rabbits can be litter trained, and you will find that this is easier if they have been neutered.
- Neutering your house rabbit will also reduce spraying and territory marking.
- Provide a safe and secure place where your rabbit can sleep and rest. You may choose a hutch or cage with the door left open so that your rabbit can come and go, otherwise a box or designated corner of a room with plenty of clean hay is just fine too
- Bunny-proof your home! Rabbits will naturally chew and dig, so keep electrical cables out of reach and provide a tray or box filled with hay for them to scratch about in
- Rabbits are sociable animals and company is recommended. Another rabbit is best, but rabbits will also tolerate cats and well-behaved dogs
- Adapting to life indoors is easier if it is the norm from kittenhood – it is not really fair to keep a cat inside if he or she has previously been used to exploring the great outdoors
- Consider providing a feline friend for company, especially if you are out during the day
- Keep the litter tray clean and emptied regularly – cats are fastidious creatures and will typically not use a dirty tray – at least not happily. Always provide separate feeding and water bowls if you have more than one cat, along with one more tray than the number of cats (so three trays for two cats)
- Provide plenty of stimulation – lots of toys, scratching posts and access to a variety of places for cats to explore and rest
- Monitor your pet’s weight – indoor cats can be prone to weight gain
- Keep your cat’s vaccinations up to date. Many viruses and diseases can be spread on our shoes and passed on by other pets who may go outside. Moreover you never know when you might need to put your cat in a cattery unexpectedly.
- Many people believe that dogs should not live solely indoors. However, with careful consideration of practicalities such as your own lifestyle and the size of your house, as well as the size and condition of your dog, it is possible for dogs to live happily indoors.
- Clearly there is a huge benefit to an indoor dog being small – the amount of exercise and stimulation needed for larger pets to thrive is very difficult to achieve without regular access to the outdoors.
- **It is recommended that indoor dogs are still taken out for regular walks.**
- Scatter-feed dry food and treats in order to provide stimulation and exercise. Hide food around the house and use activity feeders to keep your dog’s mind active. There are several in our shop, along with treats and pastes to go inside.
- Provide a safe place for your dog to rest that he or she knows is only for him/her. Crate training your puppy from the start will help your adult dog feel comfortable and behave well indoors. There is much more detail on this positive training technique on the RSPCA’s website – search for ‘crate training’
As mentioned, keeping pets entirely indoors is contentious and some people feel very strongly one way or the other. If your pet is indoors then with planning and patience, indoor pets can live alongside you and your family, making your house truly feel like a home.
Until next time best wishes,
Please note: The Ralph Site is not affiliated with the third-party organisations in any of the links shared here, and the views, ideas and suggestions expressed in this and other blogs are simply shared with the intention of trying to help you, our friends, take care of the special animals in your lives.