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Outside Time for Inside Cats

Sitting in the window, tail twitching, eyes darting- yes, cats yearn for the great outdoors. No doubt, most cats want to roam. 

You know the indoor/outdoor cat debate (“outdoor cats are in danger and decimate the bird population” vs “cats are meant to hunt and be outdoors”). Whichever side you land on, you know your kitty’s environment can affect their behavior, health, and lifespan. Indoor cats live longer, are healthier, and are less likely to be lost. Outdoor cats have more stimulation and are more active. If you choose to have an indoor cat, but understand the lure of the world beyond the door, you can try some creative ways to help your cat scratch the itch to be outside.

 outsidecatYes, you can leash train your cat. First, get a harness that fits your cat well. Put it on and take it off immediately, then give the cat a treat. Do this over time, leaving the harness on for longer periods until the cat seems comfortable. The next step is to introduce the leash. Feed them treats while they are getting used to being tethered. Practice walking with them in the house.

When you first go outdoors, do so for shorter periods of time. The great outdoors can be overwhelming at first. Your cat may just hunker down next to you for the first few outings. Keep walks short and be patient (keep working on leash walking indoors). When your cat starts to relax, let her choose where you walk by keeping pressure off the leash. Do this until your cat enjoys walks.

A catio is a great way to let your cat be outdoors within the safety of a contained area. There are a variety of catio building plans online, or you can buy one ready-to-assemble. Visit our shelter to see how our cats enjoy the catios we have outside of our cat rooms.


A less construction-oriented idea is to open windows as much as possible. Cats love to watch what’s going on outside. Give your kitty a window seat or perch, or position a cat tower next to the window. Put a bird feeder outside the window to keep your cat entertained for hours. 

To keep your indoor kitty busy and stimulated, provide toys, a scratching post, and a cat tower with hiding holes. Also, consider providing an indoor planter of grass. You can buy cat grass kits in your local pet store. Cats instinctively know that cat grass will help move their digestion along. 


If you choose to let your cat outside, please microchip your cat, keep vaccinations up to date, and of course, spay/neuter your cat (Second Chance Veterinary Services offers all these services low-cost). I also strongly encourage you to bring your cat inside before dark as that is when our predators are most active. 



My name is Cosmo, and I am one of the longest term residents here at Second Chance. I have no idea why my people have not found me yet. I’m a big guy (no fat-shaming, please), and I have beautiful soft gray and white fur. I love everyone, and am happy to sit and look out the window, lounge in the catio, sleep in my bed, or gaze lovingly into your eyes. Additionally, I am skilled at preparing astrological readings.

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 970-626-2273 to report a lost pet or to learn about adopting a homeless pet and the SCHS spay/neuter, volunteer, feral cat or other programs. View our shelter pets and services at

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