Podcast #9: Feline instincts: why the indoor cat doesn’t exist

Written by Napo HQ
5th Aug 2022
35 mins listen
If cats could talk, you’d never hear one tell you that they’re an ‘indoor cat’ by nature. Their instinct to hunt remains unchanged, and it’s vital that we keep our cats engaged.
Returning by popular demand is
Sarah Ellis.
A feline behaviour expert and head of cat advocacy at
International Cat Care
She joins us to explore how we can help indulge the need for play and prey, ways to safely introduce cats to outdoor areas, and research to help reduce the amount of prey that your cat brings into the home.

This episode of The Pet Perspective covers

  • The ongoing issue around Australia’s "cat curfews".
  • Adapting to our cats’ fundamental instincts being unchanged.
  • Options for indulging essential feline instincts of play, predation and exploration.
  • Why there’s no such thing as an indoor cat.
  • Looking after feline mental health.

International Cat Day

As mentioned in the episode, August 8th is International Cat Day!
International Cat Care has arranged lots of fun and educational activities for you to celebrate all things cat and learn more about caring for your feline friends.
You can find out more about what's on on their website and follow along with the fun with the hashtag #BeCatCurious.
Keep an eye on our social media and blog too, as we'll be releasing a new article by Sarah, as well as other special pieces of cat content. We will also be hosting the "purrfect' giveaway to celebrate International Cat Day!

Episode highlights

2:35 - Dr Sarah Ellis

“One of the things I find really interesting on this topic is that most people appear to be concerned about birds, and actually what cats more commonly predate on are small mammals. But as humans, we seem to have a real affinity and affection for birds, particularly songbirds.”

7:00 - Dr Sarah Ellis

“We, as a human race, have celebrated and enjoyed having this cat as our companion species as a pet, yet we have done nothing to change its instinct or its behavioural repertoire, so the instinct to hunt is still there.”

11:00 - Dr Sarah Ellis

“In this research they fed cats a commercial diet where the proteins in that diet came from meat sources. What they found was that the number of hunts brought home was drastically reduced.”

13:55 - Dr Sarah Ellis

“There is no such thing as an indoor cat. I don't think any cat, if it could speak, would tell you hello, my name is Felix and I am an indoor cat. By the very nature of what cats are and the behaviours that they perform - the exploration, the patrolling, the hunting or predation behaviours, the territorial marking - they are designed to be in a complex outdoor environment.”

20:25 - Dr Sarah Ellis

“They're not easy pets to look after when you want to keep them exclusively indoors. They've got really complex behavioural needs, and if we don't meet those needs, these animals can suffer from lots of different types of negative or protective emotions, just like ones that we experience.”

27:15 - Dr Sarah Ellis

“The cat has to feel safe within the outdoor environment, it has to see it as part of its territory. It has to be familiar, it has to smell familiar, and it has to have the choice to go there when it wants. If we choose those periods of time, and we physically take the cat there, it's not going to be an enriching experience for that cat.”

30:45 - Dr Sarah Ellis

“Although we call it interactive play, it doesn't really matter that we're there or not. Our only purpose is to move that toy. The cat is not playing with us, we are simply the batteries. So we need to move that toy in a way that prey would move.”

Tell us what you think

If you have a topic you'd like us to discuss in a future episode of the podcast, or if you have any questions for our guests, let us know on Instagram or Facebook.

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