Enriching Your Indoor Cat's Life
By Lauren Sanger, Communications Intern
With Edits by Kelsey Glass, Marketing Director
While cats who spend more time indoors may live longer and are at a low risk of contracting infectious diseases, they are at a higher risk for behavior problems. Therefore, it’s a cat owner’s responsibility to care for their pet’s mental health in addition to their physical well-being. Cats are both social creatures and predators, so they must have opportunities to express their natural behaviors. All cats require assistance from their owners to satisfy their social and predatory drives. Through providing the proper engagement for your cat, you have the ability to enhance your cat’s well-being while also forming a stronger human-animal bond. If you'd like to improve your relationship with your cat, read on to learn ways of enriching their environment!
Toys for Individual Play
There are several ways to provide entertaining activities for your furry housemate. Both self-play toys and interactive toys will increase your cat’s activity, regardless of whether or not you are home with them. Many self-play toys dispense food, which motivates the cat to play with the toy. They learn how to manipulate the toy to release the food out of the hole, which helps keep their brain active.
You can either purchase a food-dispensing toy or make your own! Products include Kitty Kongs and Roll-a-Treat Balls. A DIY version of these toys can be created using objects such as tennis balls or clean yogurt containers with plastic lids. You can cut holes into the balls or container, put in some dry kibble, and let your cat have a blast entertaining themselves. If your cat is not food motivated, alternative self-play toys include balls on springs or a wall/door mounted Cat Dancer.
Toys to Better the Bond
Want to better the bond between you and your cat? Interactive toys allow you to share the fun together! Play with wand-type toys with strings, feathers, and fabric attached. Some cats also love chasing laser pointers around the house. However, the low- to no-cost toys tend to be the cat’s favorite toys. With materials found from around your home, you can make your cat toys. Items such as wadded-up paper, foil balls, string, and plastic rings from milk jugs are just a few examples of DIY cat toys. If you're working from home, don't forget to set time aside for play sessions with your cat!
For cats who are curious about the great outdoors, placing perches or resting areas near windows in your home allows your cat to “virtually” spend time outside. Installing a birdbath or bird feeder within sight of the window can also increase your cat’s amusement. Just through glancing out the window, your cat can expand their horizons.
If you would like for your cat to spend some time outside, a safe way to do this is by building an outdoor enclosure, or a cattery. There are catteries you can purchase online that you can set up on your deck or outdoor patio. Another way to give your cat the freedom of going outside is with a cat fence, a product that makes it impossible for cats to climb over regular backyard fencing.
When choosing enrichment activities for your cat, it’s important to play it safe. Make sure to watch over your cat while they play, as a safety precaution. Playing with feather wands and laser pointers are great ways to bond with them and using these toys in moderation will prevent the formation of chasing habits and vision damage. For the ever-curious cat, you can also set up an area for them to glance out a window and observe what nature has to offer. Lastly, creating a safe outdoor environment for your cat will provide an opportunity for your furry friend to get some fresh air. We hope these activities give you some ideas on how to enhance your indoor cat’s overall well-being! Share their fun with us on social media @streamvalleyvet!