Tips on How to Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy
As the saying goes, ‘happy cat, happy home.’ Our feline friends have a knack for adding joy to our lives, curling up in our laps, purring in contentment, and engaging us in play. But how can you ensure your fur baby is genuinely happy and thriving? Here are some effective strategies to keep your indoor cat happy, content, healthy, and at the pinnacle of their nine lives.
A Tired Cat is a Happy Cat
Cats are natural athletes and it’s too easy for an indoor cat to go stir-crazy if it can’t work out that excess energy. The good news is there’s no shortage of awesome cat toys to keep your cat moving. Some toys look like mice, feathers, battery-powered toys with flashing lights and sound, laser pointers, toys that move, toys on strings–everything you need to help keep your cat pouncing and stalking safely indoors.
Bird Viewing Stations
Domesticated cats kill so many birds and small mammals because those animals are the natural prey of their wild ancestors. Even well-fed pet cats retain the wildcat’s natural attraction to small animals. You can indulge that attraction by setting up a bird viewing station inside. Simply install a cat window perch and put up a bird feeder or bath outside the window. Your pet cat will enjoy hours of viewing, and the wildlife will be safe.
Let Your Cat Go Hunting
Cats are inherently curious animals; if an indoor cat doesn’t have enough stimulation indoors, it will get bored and try to get outside. In addition to toys, you can help your cat exercise its natural hunting instinct by hiding its favorite treats around the house. Freeze treats in ice cubes or use special cat treat puzzles and toys that make your cat work to extract its reward to offer hours of mental stimulation. These are the same enrichment tactics used to keep lions, tigers, and other predators in good mental and physical condition in zoos.
Get Your Cat a Friend
Consider getting a second cat as a companion. Having a buddy to run and play with can go a long way in keeping indoor cats happy and stimulated. There’s no shortage of homeless cats at your local shelter just waiting for someone to take them home.
Catnip is a plant in the mint family (Nepeta cataria) that contains a natural oil called nepetalactone, which uniquely affects cats. When inhaled, nepetalactone is interpreted by the feline olfactory system as a natural cat pheromone. When cats rub on or chew catnip, it produces a mild natural high that is both harmless and temporary but that is pleasurable to cats. Not all cats are affected by catnip, and it has no effect on kittens under six months of age, but if your cat does respond to it, it can be one more tool to help keep your indoor cat stimulated and happy. Catnip comes in dried form to fill sachets or special cat toys and in spray form to mist toys or cat beds.
Let Your Cat Climb
Wild cats are natural climbers, pursuing prey into the trees and seeking high places when frightened. Your pet cat retains those same climbing instincts. Cat trees are a tried and true way of allowing your cat to exercise its urge to climb, and they come in all shapes and sizes to fit your space and decor. If you’re handy, you even can build your own. Take it to the next level by adding “cat shelves” throughout your home to take advantage of vertical space for your feline family members. It can be as simple as a few floating shelves mounted to the wall or more involved “catwalks” that wrap around entire rooms. Either way, cat shelves will allow your kitty to get up high and go places only cats can go.
Go for a Walk
Believe it or not, training your cat to walk on a leash is possible. If you must let your cat outside, this is the most responsible way to do it. It’s easiest to start training your cat when it’s just a kitten, but even older cats can learn. Start by getting your cat used to wearing a harness for short periods of time indoors, then move on to attaching the leash and rewarding the cat with treats when it walks with you. Never pull on the leash. Once the cat is comfortable with the harness and leash, it’s time to try it outside. Start slowly, with just short trips outside and gradually increase the length of the walks as your cat gets more comfortable. Work with a professional animal trainer if it’s too much of a challenge. Remember, the idea of walking dogs on leashes once seemed weird, but now it’s the standard. We can do the same with cats.
Build a Catio
Another way to give your kitty fresh air is to install a “catio.” A catio is an enclosed structure that you can install in your yard, on your deck or patio to give your cat some time outside without putting it on a leash or putting wildlife in danger (or your cat in danger from wildlife). Think of it like a cat playpen, or the cat version of an outdoor dog run. You can purchase premade catios or plans, hire a contractor to build one or do it yourself.
Love Your Cat
This last one is simple. You love your cat, and that love can be the most powerful tool you have to keep it happy. Unlike their wild ancestors, domesticated cats crave human attention. Often the most effective way of keeping your indoor cat happy is to pay attention to it. Snuggle your cat, pet your cat, and play with your cat every day. You’ll be surprised at how far a little attention from its human can go in ensuring your indoor cat’s wellbeing.
Guaranteed you’ll have a happy cat if you implement these tips to keep your indoor cat happy. If your cat needs more stimulation than you can provide, contact us to setup cat daycare.