It’s good for your cat in many ways to keep her indoors—but how do you keep an indoor cat stimulated? Zarli Kew has the answers here.
There are many good reasons for keeping your cat indoors all the time. A cat that roams the neighbourhood is a danger to local wildlife, and under threat from other cats, traffic and ticks, fleas and parasites. However, as any cat owner knows, keeping an indoor cat happy can sometimes be challenging.
It is much easier to keep a cat indoors from kittenhood. That means a kitten doesn’t really know any life outdoors, so it is much easier to convince your cat this is an adequate lifestyle. However, the key to a contented cat is to keep all their senses working – environmental enrichment is the name of the game.
Bring nature indoors
There are many things we can do for our indoor cats. They have a great sense of smell and if there are not many changes in the smell or the look of their environment, they will become bored very quickly. So, creating different types of smells is always a really good option.
I like to use what I call a nature box. Every couple of days I will place a few different things from outside into a little box: some sticks, leaves, feathers and so on. I bring them inside for the cat to smell. They love doing this. It gives the cat an insight as to what is happening out and around the house. Using things from your own garden is wonderful too because they like to smell things that are familiar but also provides a new smell.
A word of warning however, don’t fill your house with flowers from the local flower shop to interest the cat. Many pretty flowers that people do bring home such as lilies are very toxic to cats.
Make them work for food
I mentioned before about treat feeding. Rather than having a bowl, provide your cat’s daily food requirements through treat feedings in little toys they have to move around or use their paws to get the food out. This also helps keep them entertained and out of trouble.
Interactive toys are also really good, such as battery operated toys that move on their own, encouraging exercise. Of course, you don’t have to go with a robot, having your cat chase a ball on a string is always a good way of making them active.
Water fountains are great as well. Cats love running water. Many people who own cats that go outside will often report they will only drink from the puddle outside or from the birdbath. Water fountains are a great substitute and you can get some really cheap ones. This will encourage your cat to drink and stay hydrated as well.
Get your cat up high
Vertical spaces are a really good way of working with a cat’s confidence levels. A confident cat is generally a happy cat. Having places for cats to perch up high in a room and look down on things that are happening is a good idea. Cats like to hide. Rather than just a scratching post or cat tree, make spaces like shelves that are designed for them, or put a little bed for them on top of the bookshelf.
Cats like to be near windows and enjoy looking out. You can buy little window beds which can be attached to the glass, allowing the cat to look out and bask in the sun.
I do like giving cats the option of outside spaces that are safe. If you can build an enclosure, either off a window or just separate from the house you will have a very happy pet. It is also always really good to give cats some outside time to be able to smell and roll around in the grass.
Get an app for indoor cats
You don’t have to do all these things to make your indoor cat happy – but the more you do, the happier he or she will be. I do have one final suggestion too, particularly for the houses that are starting to fill up with i-Devices (like iPhones and iPads). If you have a look in the app store, you can download quite a few apps for cats on the iPad. The apps are designed to have something happen on the screen in a certain way that really attracts their attention. One of my favourite apps is the ‘Paint for Cats’. I am sure if you get this app, you just may be one of the first families on your street to get an iPad for your pet!