How To Turn An Outdoor Cat Into An Indoor Cat

Another common question we hear on Cat-World is if it is possible to turn a cat used to going outdoors into an indoor cat only. The answer is yes; many cat owners have successfully transformed their indoor/outdoor cat into an indoor cat. Below we give tips on how to do this.

Start as you plan to continue

If you have just adopted a cat, then don’t let him out in the first place. It is easier to have an indoor cat who has never been outside than converting an outside/inside cat to inside only. I have found that once they get a taste of the outdoors, they want more. Of course, it is possible to train them to accept indoors only, but it’s easier when they’re not used to those freedoms in the first place.

Be firm

This is the most important thing you can do. If your cat is used to going outdoors, it is going to take some time and patience to convert him into being an indoor cat. It is highly likely that he is going to protest, lots. Stand firm. Accept that there is going to be a transition period.

He is very likely going to try to escape. A great trick I saw on My Cat From Hell by Jackson Galaxy, is to place a cat scratch tree by the door your cat most commonly tries to ambush you from. Sit a container of cat treats by the post. When it’s time for you to leave the house, place two or three treats on the top of the tree to distract your cat while you make a swift exit.

Build a cat enclosure

If space permits, building a cat enclosure can help to give your cat the best of both worlds. He gets to enjoy the outdoors without the risks associated with free-roaming. Cat enclosures come in all sorts of shapes and sizes; they can be homemade or a commercially built one. This is the best compromise you can make for your cat.

For those renting, many companies supply portable cat enclosures which can be taken down if you should ever move. If you are rending, ask the landlord for written permission before you install one.

Schedule plenty of play

Play is vital to all cats, but even more so for indoor-only cats. They will need to burn off lots of energy and playing also serves to stimulate them mentally too.

Harness train your cat

Many cats are adaptable to being trained to walk on a leash. They can then go outside with you on walks without the risks of being out there on their own. It is preferable to introduce your cat to the concept of walking on a leash from a young age, but even adult cats can often be trained. This will take time and patience. Not all cats will happily accept a leash, but it’s worth a try.

Moving house

I’m not suggesting you move house, but if it is on the cards already, then it is a perfect time to transition your cat from outdoor/indoor to indoor only. The new home environment, the new territory will all work in your favour. We successfully turned several outdoor cats into indoor cats when we moved house. Then eventually provided them with a cat enclosure once we had settled in.


If you live in a cold climate, wait until autumn/winter to change your cat to indoors only. He’s less likely to want to venture outside when the weather is inclement and has a few months to transition.

Provide scratching posts and trees

These serve two purposes, they let your cat scratch his claws (obviously), and stretch his muscles, but also give your cat something to climb and perch up high. Placing it in a window is recommended so he can watch the world go by. The bigger, the better as far as your cat is concerned.

Bring the outdoors in

Get rid of dangerous houseplants that can poison your cat and grow catnip and cat grass in pots near your cat’s favourite perch.

See if your local garden centre sells seedling trays. These rectangular trays are great for growing grass, which provides your cat with a cool place to sit.

Provide companionship

If you have one cat, consider getting a second, so he has somebody to play with, sleep with, hang out with. Two cats are better than one.