There are so many ways that you can enrich the life of your indoor cat. Keeping in mind that every cat is an individual, spend some time discovering what your feline particularly enjoys.
Here are some things to consider acquiring to enrich your cat’s daily life:
- Cat furniture: Provide cat furniture for climbing and scratching. You can buy ready-made cat trees and other furniture that range in cost from cheap to expensive, but you don’t have to go that route. Some cats are just as happy with cardboard boxes and paper bags to investigate and play in. There are many terrific websites with instructions for making your own cat furniture; simply do a search for “how to make cat furniture.” These objects help satisfy your cat’s instinctive need to scratch and chew.
- Wand toys: Help cats feel like the predators they were born to be through interactive playtime with a wand (fishing pole type) toy. These toys come with different objects dangling at the end (e.g., toy mice, feathers), so try different types to see which “hunting” style your cat prefers. And be sure to make the toy on the end move the way that creature would move so the cat really feels like she’s hunting. Wand toy playtime solves and prevents myriad cat behavior issues.
- Catnip: Treat your feline to some catnip and try catnip-filled toys, too. You can grow it fresh, but most cats prefer dried catnip.
- Cat pheromone diffuser or spray: Spray cat pheromone lightly on your cat’s bedding and furniture or plug in a pheromone diffuser to fill the room. Feliway, a commonly used brand, is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, which is used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure. Another brand of feline pheromone that comes in a collar is NurtureCALM 24/7.
- Wheat grass: Grow wheat grass for your cat to chomp on to satisfy his instinctive need to chew. You can purchase pet wheat-grass kits either online or at pet supply stores.
- Cat drinking fountain: Consider buying your cat a drinking fountain. Some cats don’t like to drink water from a faucet, but they love their drinking fountain.
- Bird feeder: Place a bird feeder outside a window where your cat can watch the birds.
- Feline window perch: To offer your cat a better view and a spot to sunbathe, buy a window perch (available at pet supply stores) or make one yourself.
Allowing your cat to enjoy the outdoors safely
Here are some ways to give your indoor cat a chance to experience the great outdoors safely:
- Walking a cat: To allow your cat to safely enjoy time outdoors, teach her to walk on lead wearing a harness (see Walking a Cat). You can buy harnesses made especially for cats either online or at pet supply stores. Be careful to fit the harness properly so the cat doesn’t slip out of it. Train your cat inside your house to be relaxed in the harness and on the lead before adding outside adventures.
- Catios and other cat enclosures: There are many other options for cats to spend time outdoors safely. Google “catios” or “cat enclosures” to get some ideas for structures you can purchase or build. Read Cattery and Catio Info for more details.
- Cat stroller: Another option that works well for many cats is a pet stroller. Strollers can be purchased on many websites; simply do a search for “pet stroller.”
Enrichment activities for you and your cat
Here are some suggestions for activities that your cat and you may enjoy doing together:
- Interacting with your cat: Find out if your cat likes playtime, or being gently combed or brushed.
- Teaching a cat using treats: Using treats as a reward, you can teach your cat to sit, come when called, or do any other behaviors you enjoy. The best method for doing this is clicker training.
- Cat food foraging: In nature, the behavior that occupies cats’ time the most is searching for food. Indoor cats have this same instinctual urge, so giving food puzzles to your cat helps satisfy this instinct. You can purchase food puzzles made specifically for cats or create your own. (Do a search for “DIY food puzzles for cats.”) Another option: Hide little bits of food all around the house so your cat can do the normal feline “work” of finding food. It’s an enjoyable activity that gives your cat something interesting to do and satisfies that particular aspect of a cat’s nature.
- Reading to your cat: Read aloud or sing to your cats. Just remember that cats’ sense of hearing is many times greater than ours, so soft, soothing sounds are best.
- Fostering or adopting a second cat: If you have only one cat, consider getting a second feline to give your cat someone to play with when you’re not at home. Try fostering another cat first if you’re not sure you want to adopt right away. If you foster, your cat can help choose the new family member.
Most important of all: Spend time interacting with your cat doing things you both enjoy!