Not everyone is lucky enough to have a garden for their cat to play in, or easy access to the great outdoors from a window or ledge, especially in large cities. It’s also a well-known fact that most people with pedigree cats keep them exclusively indoors, which many cats can find frustrating.
For cats that are kept indoors, or ones that used to roam but have since been moved into a place with no outside access, it’s essential that they’re given lots of stimulation within their own homes. You and I are able to go outside everyday and be stimulated by hundreds of different sensations – sound, visual candy and smells, but it’s a different story for the indoor cat who only has its owner’s home as its ‘life’.
When confining a cat indoors, owners commonly make the mistake of providing no stimulation and this in turn can lead to your cat sleeping for most of its life through boredom and becoming obese. It’s important to remember that cats are animals and the natural state of a cat is to hunt, kill, eat and sleep.
Understanding your cat, its origins and basic natural behaviour, will help you to see what needs to be done inside its home environment and will enable your cat to have the happiest and most fulfilling life it can, especially if it’s confined for the rest of its natural life.
Below are some important ways you can improve your cat’s indoor environment. The first is a cat tree, however we have talked about the importance of cat trees previously, which you can read about here.
1. SCRATCHING POSTS & FURNITURE
Cats usually keep their claws in good shape by scratching tree trunks or fence posts. As well as ensuring their claws are trim, cats naturally scratch to exercise the muscles in their paws and to leave their scent, so it’s a basic and natural need. The indoor cat will scratch your furniture and carpets if a scratching post or area is not provided. Most cat trees have numerous scratch posts within their design and there are trees of every shape and size that can fit discretely into any décor. A large vertical scratch post for an adult cat will also ensure they get to stretch fully. Another great design is the cat scratch lounger (pictured) that my cats adore. Not only do they get to fully stretch out on the lounger, it also doubles up as a fantastic piece of stylish furniture they can scratch to their heart’s content.
2. A ROOM WITH A VIEW
An indoor cat loves to look out of the window to watch birds go by and keep an eye on their ‘territory’. This is a great way to stimulate your cat and to relieve long hours of boredom. Window perches can be found online in many varieties. If you have property where it’s difficult to make any alterations on the walls (i.e. with screws, nails etc), there are window perches specially designed to combat this problem. These types of window perches use suckers to connect to the actual glass of the window but are still strong enough to hold most cats’ body weight. One of the best I have come across is called The Sunny Seat Window Cat Bed.
Sunny Seat Window Cat Bed at amazon.co.uk
3. TOYS AND BOREDOM
If your cat sleeps all the time, you will need to provide some stimulation. You may think that your cat doesn’t need to play or doesn’t like playing but you will be surprised once you have found the ‘right’ toy to suit your cat’s personality. Playtime is imperative to relieve boredom and frustration; it can also improve the human to cat bond. Once you have found the correct toys for your cat, they should be rotated to keep the cat interested. Leave out some fun little toys for your cat to enjoy on its own such as ping-pong balls, open paper bags, cardboard boxes or furry catnip mice. Most people get the wrong kind of toys, and then wonder why their cat is disinterested. Below are some ideas for the best kind of toys to try out on your cat.
4. INTERACTIVE ROD TOYS
Cats are natural hunters and their natural instinct is to kill things, so any toys that stimulate this type of behaviour are highly stimulating for the indoor cat. Toy mice, bugs, spiders or feathers on a wire or string make excellent toys. The Frenzy cat toy range has some brilliant rod toys with a variety of add-ons. Play with them by half hiding them under a newspaper, rugs or boxes and watch as your cat enjoys the hunting process. Reward them with a treat afterwards, or a little piece of meat (their ‘catch’). Another great hunting toy is the Tiger Teaser, recommended by US cat behaviourist Jackson Galaxy. My cats love them.
I’m constantly surprised at how many owners never supply catnip for their cats. Catnip is a fun treat, which harmlessly ‘intoxicates’ your cat for between five and 15 mins, and is completely safe. The main constituent of catnip is nepetalactone, which is an oil contained in the leaves. It is believed cats react to the nepetalactone because it resembles a chemical in tomcat urine. This is a much-needed experience for an indoor cat and is a wonderful way to get overweight cats to kick up their heels a little! A toy stuffed with catnip like these gorgeous ones from Cheshire & Wain are sure to drive them crazy.
Premium Organic Catnip - US$6.00 at hauspanther.com
6. CAT GRASS
Grass is essential and your cats will love having the opportunity to eat it as a normal outdoor cat would. They also love to rub against grass too. It’s easy to grow and you can buy special grass cubes for cats from any pet or internet stores.
7. CAT DREAMS DVD
Check out this wonderful cat DVD by Cat Dreams that I’ve recently discovered. Especially designed for the indoor cat, this DVD features singing birds, fish swimming back and forth and various other critters that your cat would love to get hold of and eat! It may seem crazy but hey, we are cat people!
Cat Dreams DVD at amazon.co.uk
How do you keep your indoor cat stimulated? Tell us in the comments below!