Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives than outdoor cats. But whereas outdoor cats will find plenty of ways to entertain themselves, keeping an indoor cat happy and entertained is more challenging. Fortunately, a little imagination and creativity will take you a long way. If you’re looking for some inspiration to get started, check out these five top tips to make your indoor cat happier.
1. Make a Bird Viewing Station
Even if your indoor cat can’t indulge their passion for hunting and catching birds, they can still get a big kick out of watching them. Indulge their love for all things small, feathered, and chirpy by taking the advice of nwf.org and setting up a bird viewing station. It’s simple enough to do – simply set up a cat window perch and then place a bird feeder or bath just outside the window. The wildlife outside will be perfectly safe, but your cat will still get hours of viewing pleasure watching them. It won’t take long before they make the perch their new favorite spot in the house. If you care just as much about winged creatures as furry ones, you’ll be pleased to know that according to research, setting up a bath or feeder close to a window can significantly reduce bird mortality through bird window strikes. So by keeping your cat happy, you’ll also be doing your bit to preserve local wildlife – it’s a win-win.
2. Give Them a Buzz with Catnip
Catnip might not have any effect on humans, but its effect on cats is remarkable. The plant contains an oil called nepetalactone. When cats rub against, chew, or inhale catnip, they get a big dose of nepetalactone, which proceeds to act as a natural cat pheromone. Its effects are harmless and temporary, but for as long as they last, your cat will get a nice little natural buzz. Try sprinkling some of the dried catnip leaves on a soft toy or using one of the spray varieties to mist over their bed. You can even get special catnip toys that come complete with an inner sachet packed with the herb. Watching your cat go from bored and sleepy to a buzzing ball of energy after they get a whiff of the stuff is as much fun for us to watch as it is for them to experience. If their catnip habit starts getting expensive, you can cut back on the cost of the commercial products by growing it in a pot yourself. A little bit of sun and water is all that’s needed to provide your cat with endless hours of fun. Just be aware that cats under the age of 6 months old won’t react to it in the way as an adult cat will, and a small minority of cats will remain entirely immune to its effects for their entire lives.
3. Turn Them Into TV Addicts
If you thought only people liked to slob out in front of the TV, think again. As expressnews.com (www.expressnews.com/lifestyle/article/5-ways-to-keep-your-indoor-cat-happy-16043758.php) notes, not all cats respond to TV, but if you find yourself with one that does, keeping them entertained will be a breeze. Simply pop a video of birds and squirrels on loop on YouTube, plop your cat in front of the screen, then come back two hours later to find them still transfixed. Just remember that too much screen time is as bad for cats as it is for kids. To stop them from turning into couch potatoes, try to balance out their time in front of the TV with plenty of games and activities.
4. Encourage Their Natural Instincts
A cat that’s allowed free rein of the outdoors will spend plenty of time sharpening their claws against tree trunks and lamp posts. Just because your cat doesn’t venture outside the front door doesn’t mean you can’t let them indulge in the same natural instincts. Scratching posts are cheap, widely available, and provide your cat with a ton of fun, not to mention plenty of stress relief. Some cats won’t need any encouragement to use a post; others might need to be taught how to use it. Once you have the post installed, spay it with some feline pheromones before you start scratching it yourself. Once they see you in action, they’ll quickly catch on and start having a go themselves. As well as helping protect your furniture from claw marks by giving them a safe alternative, scratching posts are also a great way for indoor cats to exercise: invest in a few posts of a significant enough height to let your cat stretch out to their full-length, and they’ll effectively be getting a yoga session each time they scratch. To make it even more appealing, look for a tall cat tree that combines scratching posts with plenty of hidey holes and perches for your cat to hang out on.
5. Make Time For Play
A tired cat is a happy cat. Although cats naturally sleep through a large part of the day, they’ll benefit from plenty of fun and games during the few minutes between naps. Try to spend at least 10 minutes a day playing with your cat. It doesn’t need to be complicated: chasing a scrunched-up ball of aluminum around will be plenty entertaining enough for most cats. If you want to dial the fun up a notch, catswillplay.com has some great tips for games, including:
- Cat Maze – Create a maze with boxes or cardboard flats, or simply rearrange chairs or other solid pieces of furniture. Once you’ve set the maze up, use a teaser wand or a remote-controlled mouse to encourage your cat to start exploring. To add to the fun, try placing little treats throughout the labyrinthine for them to discover.
- Kitty Hockey – If your cat loves to use their paw to swat at things, they’ll go crazy for a game of kitty hockey. Get things rolling by finding a small, slightly weighted object (oversized checker pieces or a full can of cat food make good options). Sit on the floor and flick the object across the room (if you’ve got carpets, this won’t work – tiles are best but wood works as well). Once your cat hears the sound, they’ll leave whatever they’re doing to come and play.