16 Oct How to keep your indoor cat happy
The indoors is safest for your cat. The outdoors holds many potential threats, like predators, diseases, poisons, and cars – which is why indoor cats tend to live longer, healthier lives. Keeping your cat indoors also helps to protect the native wildlife that might live around your house.
But it’s not as simple as locking them up. Cats need love and attention too, even though they might do their best to appear aloof. It will take some effort to keep them mentally and physically stimulated – and satisfied with being inside.
Help keep your cat happy and healthy indoors with these five tips.
1. Space to Scratch
Scratching is an important activity for cats – but preferably not on the household furniture. A scratching post is a must-have for your indoor cat, allowing them to exercise, work out any stress, and mark their territory.
A good scratching post will be tall and sturdy, safe for your cat and allowing them to stretch tall and scratch deep. The material needs to be satisfying to scratch and not catch on their claws. You might need to experiment with a material your cat likes or provide different options – sisal fabric and heavy cardboard are usually good options.
When introducing a scratching post, you might want to spray it with catnip or honeysuckle spray to make it more inviting, and to direct their attention well away from the enticing arms of the couch.
2. Choose Your Toys
When picking toys for your indoor cat, think about function and variety. Toys should help satisfy that hunter instinct, keep them mentally engaged and physically active. To avoid boredom, keep a box of toys out of your cat’s reach, and routinely put some away and take new ones out to keep them interesting.
Some toys are best with owner participation – wand toys and laser pointers can mimic prey, allowing your cat to stalk and chase. Allow your cat to catch the toy sometimes so they don’t build up all that chasing stress without any resolution.
When you leave the house, pack up any toys that could be unsafe such as anything that’s too small or with cords that could get tangled. Instead, leave toys to keep your cat keen throughout the day. Puzzle toys with kibble provide an incentive to play, but your toys don’t all have to be so complicated. Even a few cardboard boxes or paper bags with the handles removed can beat all the fancier toys.
3. Feeding Fun
If you have an indoor cat, you’ll need to pay slightly more attention to what they eat – leaving a bowl of food at constant reach can cause your cat to eat out of boredom and reach an unhealthy weight. But even a diet with controlled portions can be fun and keep your cat active. The zoos have plenty of enrichment tactics to keep the big cats happy, and you can use some similar ideas for the smaller version living at your house.
Hiding food in different places, freezing treats in ice cubes and using puzzle feeding toys can help give your cat something to track down. You might need to guide them to the food the first few times until they get the idea. If you’ve got a green thumb, why not grow some cat grass in indoor pots to let your cat graze. You can source it from pet supply stores.
4. Tips Outside the Box
No matter how much space you have, you can maximise the area by looking in a particular direction – up. Most cats are avid climbers, and adding multi-level opportunities to climb and perch up high gives extra space. You could clear any high shelves you currently have, buy a cat tree, or some people even create cat walks up high to give their cats more freedom to roam.
Having a great space isn’t as much fun if there’s no one to share it with. Consider adopting another cat or kitten to keep your furry friend happy when you can’t be with them. Don’t forget to spay or neuter your animals – aside from avoiding unwanted kittens, hormones can cause your cat to yearn for the outdoors and make them discontented and stressed.
5. Taking the Time
Cats are often considered low-maintenance pets – but that doesn’t mean no maintenance. Your cat relies on you for companionship, even if they are less eager to show it than a dog might be. Patting, grooming, playing and snuggling are essential highlights of your cat’s day. They don’t need a great deal of time, but do put some time aside to enjoy your pet and help them feel loved and relaxed.
Keeping your cat indoors is the best decision to keep them safe, happy, and well. It can mean some extra work to make sure they are mentally and physically active, but the rewards are easy to see – safer wildlife, and a happy and healthy pet with a longer lifespan and lots more time to spend snuggling with you.