Indoor cats live longer, stay healthier and cause less environmental damage than cats who go outside. But how do you keep an indoor cat happy and entertained within the confines of your home?
The outside world is filled with temptations that felines just can’t resist: trees to climb, fences to jump, wildlife to chase and other cats to play with.
And the key to keeping your indoor cat happy is replicating these novelties for his enjoyment.
Don’t worry — it’s not as hard as it sounds! Try these tricks to provide safe, simple enrichment for your beloved indoor cat.
4 Easy Ways to Keep Your Cat Happy Indoors
1. Buy or Build a Cat Tree
Cats love climbing — it’s just a fact. Being high up gives your cat a sense of security, lets him get away from the commotion at ground level and allows him to survey his entire surroundings.
That’s why you’ll often find your cat on top of your fridge, your bookshelf or even the moulding above your doors. And if those vertical spaces are inaccessible, he’ll still try to get as high up as he can, lounging on the back of your couch or on top of your headboard.
But even so, many indoor cats are lacking in opportunities to climb. That’s why buying or building a cat tree can make all the difference in your cat’s happiness.
A cat tree with multiple levels, textures, cubbies and platforms isn’t exactly the same as a real tree, but it comes pretty close! Your cat can climb as high as he wants, jump up and down, scratch at the posts and relax on his “branch” of choice.
2. Bring the Greenery Inside
Part of the charm of the great outdoors is the greenery. Grassy lawns, textural shrubs and shady trees help your cat feel connected to his natural roots and offer plentiful enrichment opportunities.
Indoors, where everything is soft, smooth or manmade, it’s easy for a cat to get bored and restless away from nature. You can remedy this by bringing cat-safe plants into your home and creating an indoor cat garden.
Start by planting a tray of cat grass. It’s easy to grow and cats love to munch on it, so it provides a lot of bang for your buck.
Mint is also a feline favorite. It’s fragrant and grows quickly, making it a must-have for any cat garden.
The same goes for lemongrass, which grows readily indoors and has a scent that cats love. Bonus: you’ll also have fresh mint and lemongrass to use in your home cooking!
And no cat garden would be complete without catnip. If your cat is part of the 50% of felines who go crazy for catnip, planting some in your cat garden will make him the happiest cat on Earth, indoors or outdoors!
3. Install a Cat Perch or Catio
An afternoon nap in a safe, sunny spot — what cat could say no to such an appealing proposition?
Unfortunately, many indoor cats lack such an area. If your home doesn’t have a large, sunny windowsill that your cat can access, you can remedy it with a padded window perch.
These perches can be purchased from most pet stores and install securely onto any window. Their soft surfaces make them irresistible for cat naps, neighborhood surveillance and just hanging out.
Or give your cat the star treatment with a window catio. These catios are made of mesh, glass and/or clear, heavy-duty plastic, with a platform that extends out your window to give your cat some sun and fresh air.
Window catios are installed much like a window AC unit, offering your cat a space that’s both indoors and outdoors at once. Some are as small as an air conditioner while others extend far out and down to the ground, creating a safe outdoor playpen for your cat.
4. Spend Quality Time with Your Cat Every Day
Outdoor cats meet a lot of creatures on their excursions: other cats, dogs, people, livestock and local wildlife. But an indoor cat’s social circle is far more limited — it’s just you, him, your family and your other pets.
All cats need daily playtime and affection from their owners, but indoor cats need them the most. They’re much more likely to get bored and have a lot of pent-up energy, which can lead to destructive behaviors, anxiety and depression.
So take the time to play with your cat each and every day. Keep a steady rotation of toys and activities to hold his interest and stimulate him in a variety of ways.
And when he’s tuckered out from a good play session, curl up with him on the couch and give him a good petting while you read or watch TV. Remember: when your cat lives indoors, your home is his whole world, so make sure it’s filled with love!
"In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this."
-- Terry Pratchett