It’s my personal opinion that all cats are good indoor cats. I don’t really like to allow my cats outside at all. If you want your American Shorthair (ASH) cats to enjoy long and healthy lives, I recommend keeping them indoors and not letting them out unless it’s on a lead or into a secure enclosure.
This breed does very well indoors, especially if you raise them as indoor cats from kittenhood. Once they outgrow their energetic babyhood and adolescence, this breed is fairly sedate and generally won’t mind being kept safely inside the house. In this article, you’ll learn how to keep your American Shorthair safe and happy indoors.
Are American Shorthairs good indoor cats? Yes, they generally adapt well to life indoors. While they may want to escape if they see prey animals or other cats outside, they are easy to entertain and tend not to become irritable indoors.
You’ve arrived on this page because you have questions about keeping your American Shorthair as an indoor cat. Can American Shorthairs be happy indoors? Should you allow your American Shorthair to go outside? How can you allow your cat to enjoy the outside safely? What do indoor cats need to be happy and contented? Keep reading, because we have the answers you’re looking for.
You’ll learn just what makes the American Shorthair a great indoor cat, and why going outdoors is a bad idea for your feline friend. You’ll also learn to provide an enriched and enjoyable environment for your cat.
Are American Shorthairs Good Indoor Cats?
American Shorthair cats make excellent indoor kitties. Like their British Shorthair cousins, they have a fairly relaxed nature. While they’re very lively and playful as kittens and young cats, they tend to quiet down quite a bit by the time they’re a year or two old. American Shorthairs are curious, amiable and fun to be around, but they tend not to get into mischief. Cats of this breed are intelligent but not really prone to mischief or moonlight flits.
Because they’re fairly steady and get very attached to their families, American Shorthairs aren’t especially prone to bold escape attempts. As long as they have what they need indoors, they won’t care too much about accessing the great outdoors.
The exception tends to be when they spot birds or other prey animals outside; the prey instinct in this breed is very well developed, so you do have to watch them near open windows. They may also want to get out if their territory is threatened by other cats. Later in this article, you’ll learn about ways you can reduce temptation and give your American Shorthair an outdoor adventure without the usual hazards.
To be truly happy indoors, you need to provide your cats with an interesting and enriched environment. They will be much less likely to develop itchy feet if there are plenty of interesting places around the home to explore — or simply to sleep in, this being one of the American Shorthair’s favourite occupations. If their exercise is limited to jumping on and off the sofa, they’re more likely to want to investigate the outside.
Why Keep American Shorthairs Indoors?
Excuse me while I hop up on my favourite soapbox for a moment and tell you why all cats can, and really should, be indoor cats.
There are so many hazards in the outside world that I could write an entire book on them. If you live in a residential area, traffic is a major concern. Cats can and do get hit by cars and motorbikes all the time. Even if you live in a neighbourhood with relatively few cars, it only takes one distracted driver to injure or kill your pet.
Other animals are another hazard. Cats are territorial and tend to get into scraps, which can result in very severe injuries if things go wrong. One of my friends’ cats lost an eye in a fight with one of the local toms; it wasn’t really the other cat’s fault, as he hadn’t been neutered and had become aggressive because of this. Some dogs can also attack smaller animals, a category which includes cats.
Humans, too, can present a danger to cats. This can be something as innocent as a local child who hasn’t been taught to treat animals properly and harms your cat by mistake. If your cats are pedigree American Shorthairs, they may be at risk of theft.
Then there are the people who take it upon themselves to reduce the population of “strays” in the area, either by carting any cat they see off to the nearest shelter or through more sinister means. Poisoned food and water is sometimes left out for cats by malicious individuals.
Cats are nosy and inquisitive, which can lead them to explore places they really shouldn’t go. It’s very easy for a cat to become trapped in a shed or other outbuilding, and then either succumb to hypothermia or hunger if nobody finds them in time.
Your American Shorthair is also a very efficient hunter, quite capable of putting a major dent in the wildlife population. Cats kill an incredible number of birds and animals each year. Keeping your cat indoors will be a boon to songbirds in the area.
Creating a Cat-friendly Home
Your American Shorthair will be much happier and more satisfied indoors if you provide plenty of interest and enrichment. Cat trees are great, offering lots of intriguing perches from which to supervise the household. Cat perches are very easy to create — simply put up a broad, well-secured shelf and cover it with a scrap of carpet or a folded blanket.
Having said that, some American Shorthairs who’ve reached the more sedate stage of their lives may not bother with the higher spots at all. Some of my American and British Shorthair friends are decidedly averse to the effort of climbing.
Cat habitats are a great option. These can be as simple as a large cardboard box tucked into a corner, where your cat can look out at the world while still being able to feel hidden and secure. More elaborate tunnels, cat-caves and similar systems are also good, especially if your American Shorthair is the more active type.
Because they’re very smart, it’s a good idea to provide lots of ways for your American Shorthairs to exercise their intellect that don’t involve finding ways to escape. Puzzle toys are a good solution. You should also engage their predator instincts with teaser toys and things they can chase.
How Can My American Shorthair Go Outdoors Safely?
There are two ways to give your American Shorthair some fresh air and exercise. One is a kitty enclosure in the garden or on a balcony. You will need to make certain that the cats can’t escape — remember that they can scale vertical fences and walls with ease, so just locking the garden gate won’t help.
You want a sturdy enclosure with no openings and a covered top. If you don’t fancy setting up a permanent “catio” structure, there are plenty of cat tunnels and cat tents that can be assembled and packed away when not in use.
Another method is to use a lead and harness, and take your cat for walks. This is tailor-made for the inquisitive and intelligent American Shorthair. They take to the harness very well, although obviously this may not be true for every single ASH cat. The trick is to acclimate them to the harness gradually. First, just leave it near their food bowl or in their bed, so that they get used to it.
The next step is to drape the harness loosely over the cat’s body, preferably when the cat is eating or relaxing. Don’t press the issue — just leave the harness in place until your cat starts to get uncomfortable. Then you can move on to fastening the harness, and add walks on the lead indoors. Once your cat is perfectly happy walking on the lead inside the house, you can try a walk outdoors. Stick to safe, grassy areas where your cat won’t be startled by dogs or other animals, and be ready to head indoors when your pet starts to show signs of being uncomfortable.
Walks outside are great for this breed, as they do need regular exercise to stay healthy. Just make sure they stay safe