Indoor cats need a lot more mental and physical stimulation than outdoor cats. It’s important to remember that even when our feline friends look happy and settled, cats are hunters by nature and we need to provide an environment where they get to use their instincts and skills.
Lots more people are keeping cats indoors, whether it’s because they do not have a garden, live on a busy dangerous road or they just want to prevent their cat getting injured. All of these are valid reasons to keep a cat inside, we just need to make sure we can offer them the best environment to live in.
If possible, the best option for an indoor cat is to have some form of access to the outside world. Lots of people are constructing catios which provide a safe outside space for your cat to explore. Catio designs vary and will be restricted by space and cost. But choosing an outdoor space and providing a cat with hides, high shelves, cat friendly plants and scratching areas will massively improve their mental and physical stimulation. If however you are unable to build a catio, there are many things you can do in the house instead.
Playing with your cats for a few hours a day can really keep your indoor cat happy. Try playing chasing games, throwing little toys, and encouraging them to use indoor climbing trees and scratching posts. You could also provide catnip toys to activate their hunter mode, hide food around the house or pop healthy treats in puzzle balls to get their brains working for the reward. These are all good ideas to keep them entertained.
Lots of people like to use laser point toys. Animal behaviourists say cats typically engage in 8-10 hunting expeditions a day. So a laser toy is the ideal toy to use to engage your cats hunting skills. Here are some of the pros and cons of using laser toys to stimulate your cat:
• Physical exercise
• Mental stimulation
• Easy for human to use
• Good stalking exercise
• Destructive – cats will run through and over anything to catch the dot
• Not satisfying – cats can never catch the dot and get a reward for their hard work
With the cons in mind, be cautious where you shine the laser. As for rewarding them for the hunt, cats won’t catch every prey but you will need to let them catch something, so reward them with a treat or their favourite toy at the point you stop the laser. Take care not to shine the laser directly in your cat’s eye, and don’t over stimulate them with the laser, so restrict how long you play with them.
Top Tip: Cats are very intelligent and very much able to learn commands and games. Lots of cats will play fetch so this may be worth trying with your cat.
Providing high up safe places to sleep is important. A lot, but not all cats, feel much safer being higher up and above their human. Beds on top of wardrobes or shelves for them to sleep on are a good idea, as well as providing lots of blankets.
You can also provide indoor plants but be careful if they haven’t had these before, cats can gorge themselves on a new plant and make themselves quite sick.
Above all else, just remember to have fun, and spend lots of time bonding with your indoor cat, they’re worth it!