Is It Cruel to Keep a Cat in One Room?

Is It Cruel to Keep a Cat in One Room?

You are seriously considering confining your cat to one of the unused rooms in your home after he created a big mess while you are away.

Is it cruel to keep a cat in one room?

While keeping a cat in one room is not necessarily cruel, it can certainly be less than optimal for the well-being of the cat as a cat needs more stimulation than one room can typically offer.

Your cat needs an area in your home where he can hide away from the flurry of activities and stimulation that can come from the other residents in your home. But confining him inside a room by his lonesome is an entirely different thing. There is no straightforward answer to the question. Instead, you have to consider a few factors.

How much space do cats need?

First, you have to consider the size of the room where you plan to leave your cat, whether temporarily or permanently. Ideally, the room should be at least 18 square feet. But depending on a few factors like your pet’s breed, activity level, and personality, the room can be slightly bigger and smaller. 

Definitely, if you are going to contain your cat in a space that is just the size of a closet, that is downright cruel. Not only will your pet suffer, but you will also be creating a perfect environment that breeds bad behaviors.

If your spare room is smaller than 18 square feet, there are a few workarounds that you can use. For example, you can create additional vertical space by installing perches. 

Apart from creating additional space, perches can meet your cat’s need to climb and jump. Furthermore, vertical spaces can provide your cat with opportunities for exercise.

How to make a room appealing to your cat

But apart from the size of the room, you will also need to ensure that your cat’s other needs are adequately met. What is inside the room is just as important as its size.

Whether your cat spends most of the day inside his room or you give him free rein of your home, you should provide him with ample opportunities to stimulate his mind and body. More so if he will be spending most of his time confined in a room.

Contrary to what some people may believe, living indoors is better for cats compared to allowing them to spend time outdoors.  Outdoors, your cat is exposed to a few risks, from getting hit and run over by vehicles to falling prey to larger predators. Furthermore, cats that spend time outdoors are more likely to succumb to harmful microorganisms like the feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus.

Here are a few tips to help improve your cat’s quality of life while confined in a room.

1. Spend time with your pet.

In general, cats may seem aloof and may seem to do perfectly fine left alone. However, felines are social creatures and crave the affection of their humans.

Whether your cat needs to stay inside a room temporarily or permanently while you are at work, be sure to carve some time off your busy schedule to play with him. Go inside his room and bring out his favorite toys. 

Ideally, you should play with him for at least 30 minutes. Playtime exercises your cat’s mind and body and provides him with an acceptable outlet for his instincts.

Apart from playing with your cat, you should also spend time grooming your cat. Although cats spend most of their days grooming themselves, your pet will appreciate a helping hand keeping his luxurious coat beautiful. 

Additionally, grooming is a great way to solidify your bond with your pet and can provide you with an opportunity to check your cat’s health.

2. Consider walking your cat outdoors.

It may come as a surprise to some people but cats can be trained to walk outside, just like dogs.

The outdoor world can provide the stimulation that is lacking inside your cat’s room. Just make sure that you invest in a quality leash and harness and be patient in training your cat.

If walking your cat outside is challenging, you can bring the outdoors into his room by creating an indoor garden for your pet.

Be sure to choose plants that are known to be safe for cats like catnip and lemongrass and avoid those that are poisonous to cats.

3. Clean your cat’s room regularly.

In particular, you should pay close attention to his litter and litter box. Remember to change his litter regularly and clean the litter box at least once a week.

Furthermore, be sure to buy at least an extra litter box for your cat. This will ensure that he has a clean litter box to use if he does not want to use the other one for one reason or another.

Failure to clean the litter box can lead to unacceptable behavior like eliminating outside the litter box.

Why people confine their cats in a room

Although it is not necessarily cruel to keep your cat confined inside a room as long as you meet his needs, the bigger question to ask is why should you isolate your cat in the first place.

Identifying these reasons allows you to find a suitable solution to the problem at hand.

1. Your cat is making a big mess in your home.

Maybe you have grown tired of your cat’s incessant need to push things off the shelf or maybe he has destroyed your couch because he keeps scratching it.

Whether his confinement in a room is temporary or permanent, that is not the solution to your problem.

Beneath the surface is a failure to understand your cat’s nature. Although it is impossible to stop your cat from scratching or pushing things off a table or shelf, you can redirect his instincts and prevent him from making a big mess in your home.

2. Your cat is sick.

Cats are surprisingly adept at knowing if another feline is sick. They will act aggressively toward the sick animal.

Apart from preventing aggression between your pets, sending your ill cat to another room is a good idea because it can help prevent the spread of disease.

Furthermore, isolating the sick cat in a room provides your pet with some measure of comfort and peace, allowing him to recover faster.

3. You are bringing a new cat to your home.

Although it is possible to have two cats inside the same home, introducing the two animals require a temporary separation.

For the new cat, spending time alone in a separate room allows him to acclimate to his new surroundings. 

For the resident cat, the separation gives him time to become familiar with the scent of the new pet. This is an essential part of the introduction process.

4. Your cats are fighting.

Although cats can bond with one another, there will be instances wherein sticky situations can escalate into a full-on fight. 

To prevent your pets from injuring one another, your best bet is to separate them until their tempers simmer down.

Depriving your cat of his needs is cruel

Isolating your cat in a room is not necessarily cruel, especially if this is a temporary set up. Ultimately, it boils down to providing your cat with his needs, whether he lives in a large or small space.

Your cat can thrive living in isolation from the other members of your household. However, you will need to work harder in meeting his needs to keep him happy and healthy.

Image: istockphoto.com / Bogdan Kurylo

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