Did you know that household cats, especially those who live exclusively indoors, have little to do and can easily become bored? This can lead to behavioral issues, excessive weight gain, and eventual health consequences. Although, it may be tempting to allow your cat outdoors, there are many safety and health concerns that pose a much higher risk than keeping your cat indoors. Even if you do not think your indoor cat seems bored, below are some things to consider:
- Cats who lack enrichment can become aggressive in play with both humans and other animals in the house.
- Young cats without adequate development opportunities often bother their owners for play at inappropriate hours of the day and night.
- Cats may become destructive with furniture, plants, or other household objects.
- They may become reclusive and are more likely to retreat from new people or objects that enter their home.
- Cats lacking regular play may overreact to the presence of outdoor cats and become very distressed.
Luckily, there are many great ways to keep your indoor cat happy and to ensure a long, healthy life inside your home. You can quickly provide environmental boosts for your cat(s). Try these tips and ideas:
- Provide a variety of interactive toys that keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Rotate through your stock of toys every few days to provide your cat a “new toy” and prevent him or her from getting bored with a particular toy.
- Provide opportunities for your kitty to “hunt” – move toys in a way that mimics the movements of a mouse or bird, use a laser toy or kitty fishing pole. Provide several minutes of stimulation with these playthings per day to encourage exercise and an outlet for your cat’s natural prey drive.
- Provide objects for your cat to explore – cardboard boxes, paper shopping bags, or an aquarium with real fish (safely out of reach) can provide great entertainment!
- Provide appropriate surfaces on which your cat can scratch. Keep in mind, cats have individual preferences. Consider providing a variety of scratching posts and surfaces in several different areas of your home.
- Be sure there are climbing opportunities and access to windows. Cats love to sunbathe and watch birds, squirrels, and other small animals. Position bird feeders outside of your windows for your cat to observe. You may also provide a cat tree, available at many pet stores. (Or build your own).
- Provide several small meals per day and avoid free-feeding (i.e. keeping your cat’s bowl full at all times). If your schedule is too hectic to provide scheduled feeding, try purchasing a feeder with a built-in timer. You could also consider the use of an interactive food dispenser such as the FUNKitty Egg Cersizer.
- Training your cat can provide great mental stimulation. Cats, just like dogs, can learn tricks and commands.
- Teaching your cat to walk on a leash and harness is a safe way to take your indoor cat on outdoor adventures. Be sure your cat always wears ID tags when walking outside and/or has a microchip implant.
- Many cats enjoy the company of other cats, and in some cases dogs. A companion can provide the opportunity for exercise, play, mutual grooming, and affection while you are away from home.
For more information on how to provide the proper stimulation for your indoor cat, visit Ohio State University’s Indoor Pet Initiative – https://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats
Now . . . it’s time to play!
*Featured image courtesy of Kitty Coaching.