Entertaining indoor cats
Cats that live indoors naturally have fewer opportunities to express their instincts than outdoor cats. While an outdoor cat can hunt, chase and explore to their heart’s content, it can be harder for indoor cats to enjoy the same kinds of stimulation. Their needs aren’t different, but their environment is – which is why it’s important to help keep an indoor cat happy by providing them with everything they need.
Whether your cat lives indoors because of an illness, physical needs, or simply because they’re happier in the house, keep them stimulated with our guide to entertaining indoor cats.
Help them exhibit hunting behaviours
When cats live outdoors they will often hunt small prey, even if they are not hungry. This is one of their instincts, and it allows them to exercise and enjoy mental stimulation as well as fulfilling a need.
Indoor cats are no different – they still have this hunting instinct, and will be happiest if they can regularly exercise it. In the great outdoors they would be able to pounce on anything from prey to falling leaves, but in your home the opportunities aren’t so ample.
Instead, help them exhibit hunting behaviours by recreating situations in which they can stalk, chase, and catch prey. This could be anything from throwing paper balls for them to jump on to buying purpose-building toys and games that mimic their natural prey. Give them opportunities to do this every day, several times if possible.
If their hunting instinct isn’t fulfilled, they may find other ways to exercise it – sometimes with negative consequences for your furniture or other belongings! So to help keep your indoor cat happy, give them plenty of opportunities to behave as nature intended.
Consider finding them a friend
Not every household can accommodate two cats, and if another pet is introduced, it should be done slowly and under expert supervision to ensure everything goes to plan. However, if it is possible, you may consider finding a companion for your indoor cat – after all, having a friend is one of the best ways to alleviate boredom.
If you have room in your home, and your heart, for another cat you may find that they both keep each other entertained. From playing together to snoozing in the same bed, many house cats who live together can’t stay apart.
If you do have two indoor cats, just make sure they both have plenty of everything. Separate water bowls, beds and even scratching posts are important – even if they prefer to share – as it can help avoid territorial disputes arising. In terms of keeping indoor cats happy, though, having a companion is often a brilliant move.
Give them things to play with
To help keep your indoor cat feeling happy, make sure they have plenty of ways to entertain themselves with toys and games.
Toys can include things that require your interaction – such as specially designed feathers on a stick – or ones that they can enjoy by themselves, such as balls and stuffed toys from pet shops. It’s also easy to make mealtimes more exciting by putting treats inside a puzzle ball, or even hiding pieces of kibble around the house so they can seek them out during the day.
Remember to rotate their toys on a regular basis, so there’s always something ‘new’ to play with. This will help prevent them losing interest in their favourite games.
Provide opportunities for exercise
Finally, an important part of keeping indoor cats happy is ensuring that they have plenty of opportunities for exercise.
While outdoor cats have the run of the neighbourhood, indoors cats are far more limited in their territory. Besides this, warm and cosy houses might persuade your cat that curling up and having a nap is far more worthwhile than running around and being active!
Playing games with your cat is a great way to help them exercise. Pouncing and chasing are both great activities, as not only do they help your cat express their instincts, they’re good forms of physical activity too. Even a scratching post can help your cat exercise – many cats love to stretch against them, reaching for the highest point, or if it incorporates a cat tree even climbing over it.
Read more about exercise for indoor cats here.