No one is biting on this question so I thought I'd give it a shot!
I have an indoor/outdoor cat currently (Perkins) who I would also like to convert. He was "the neighborhood stray" at the old apartment complex where I lived and I brought him w/ me when I moved into a home. My roommate who also helps a great deal w/ the cat care around here, feels it would be cruel to keep him inside after he has spent most of his life outdoors. I fear the risks to him and all the other cats who are strictly indoors. Even though he gets ALL the shots, we've had some flea infestations I feel we can attribute to him and a nasty respiratory bug that went around earlier this spring. Giving antibiotics to six cats three times a day, two of which could not tolerate it and would vomit it up, is NO fun! Yesterday, he returned from one of his excursions w/ a bloody nose, cat nails all in him, and bleeding from his front leg. He's a neighborhood big shot despite being neutered.
Anyway, when I finally win this argument w/ my roommate, I will be in your situation. I've thought a lot about it.
I think you're making the right decision for sure, especially since she's declawed and couldn't really defend herself well in a treacherous situation. I feel badly because I trimmed Perkins nails the night before that Mike Kitty Tyson got a hold of him.
Obviously if you can screen in your yard w/ one of those big covered screens, that would be ideal (although very expensive). If you are like most of us and can't, I guess I would suggest the following:
- Get tons of cat toys and try to make it as entertaining as possible in your home. Put up bird feeders, think about setting up a fish tank (covered), oat grass, water fountains and other things around your home that duplicate her natural environment. I've read even declawed cats appreciate scratch posts because it feels good on their paws. I don't know about this though.
- Consider getting another cat to share in her indoor misery and keep her occupied. Of course, this could backfire on you but I bet she's got some friends out there in your neighborhood she will grieve for when she's confined. A new kitten friend might give her a reason to want to stick around inside. She may also miss some of your neighbors who she might be visiting. You could think about having them visit her sometimes if you know them well enough and know who the main players might be.
- Keep lots of windows uncovered for her to look out. Consider getting those nice fleece shelves that you can hang off the windows.
The main thing is you will need to be very patient. It will be a huge adjustment for her and she will likely beg to go out for weeks. Eventually, she will hopefully give up but could get very depressed. Can you imagine if YOU were confined to your home for the rest of your life? Now if you had never been outside, you'd probably be fine, but I would go NUTS too!
Good luck to you and K.C.