Knowing how to entertain indoor cats is imperative in order to keep both pet and owner happy and healthy. Choosing to keep a cat indoors has become increasingly more common, but owners have to learn how to keep their cats busy in order to stave off boredom. Of course, having some of the best cat toys on hand will help, but we've got a few other suggestions to keep your indoor cat entertained.
As you may have already learned, a bored cat is a destructive cat. Whether that's pulling on the couch, chewing on your plants, or getting into places they don't belong, bored cats can wreak havoc. And in some cases, a bored cat can become an unhealthy cat as well, so keeping them entertained is even more important.
Yes, cats are well-known for their love of sleeping, but that doesn't mean they don't need enrichment and exercise throughout the day. Cats are naturally inquisitive and love to explore their immediate surroundings. Knowing how to entertain indoor cats isn't about just starving off boredom; it's about offering them a stimulating environment for both mind and body to thrive.
That means that in your house or apartment, cats need ample space to play, rest, nest, and more. They need access to areas at different height levels, such as cat trees or wall-mounted perches – if they aren't exploring outside, you'll want to give them ample opportunity to explore indoors. Don't worry, even if you live in a small apartment, we've got some great ideas on how to make the most of your space.
So, here's how to entertain an indoor cat to stave off boredom, behavior issues, and potential health problems.
How to entertain indoor cats with environmental enrichment
Knowing how to entertain indoor cats starts with creating a stimulating environment for them. Sometimes it's as simple as rearranging your space, but you may need to get more creative and add some new cat-friendly furniture items to your home.
A few ideas for turning your home into a kitty enrichment haven include:
• Provide spaces for hiding. This can be as simple as providing a cat tower and enclosed cat bed that features a cat-cave design.
• Provide a quality cat scratching post to help save your furniture (and your sanity!)
• Consider creating a 'catio' to provide a safe place for your indoor kitty to explore the outdoors safely. As the name suggests, this is a custom cat enclosure built outdoors. Pet owners often use their backyard for this, but a balcony can work too.
• Make the most of your windows by setting up a cat hammock right next to it, or on it, if you get one with suction cups. Windows are a perfect spot for people-watching and sunbathing.
• Set up a secure pet tent on your balcony or backyard. This may sound like a strange camping accessory, but opting for a transparent mosquito net-like design ensures that it's both secure and breathable.
• Setting up a cat climbing wall is an excellent use of space. If you have unused space on your walls, adding a few cat-climbing platforms is perfect for adventure cats who love to be up high.
• Turn any extra spaces in your home into a stylish cat bedroom. Whether it's under the stairs or in the cupboard, you can even fit a custom pet door to allow easy entry then fill it with plenty of toys and their favorite cat bed.
• Opt for a cat-proof fence to turn your backyard into a kitty-safe lounge spot.
• Stairs provide endless hours of fun, particularly if you have two cats who love to chase each other, but if you don't have any in your house, you can always provide some pet stairs leading up to spots they find hard to reach.
Toys that keep your indoor cat entertained
Most vets recommend a minimum of 15-30 minutes of play per day, which is for both exercise and bonding. Play is important to keep your kitty in tip-top shape and mentally stimulated.
Toys are a great way to do both, but choose toys that will give your cat a workout and require personal input from you so that you’re more involved in your cat’s play. These toys don't need to be expensive; some of the best cat toys out there are also the most classic – think feather cat rod and catnip mouse.
Look to rotate them so your feline is never bored, and don't be afraid to make a few DIY cat toys of your own. Even the fussiest felines love a cardboard box, while any spare fabric you have around the home can create a surprisingly fun toy.
Even bringing in items from the outdoors or around the house is sure to pique their curiosity. Paper carrier bags are a great example of this, while wrapping paper is feline heaven.
When buying cat toys, we suggest you persist several times after buying them. Some don’t have instant appeal and many cats are nervous about changes to their environment. Something like a new scratching post may intimidate them to start with, but cats may ignore toys, trees, and beds for months before suddenly loving them.
How do I keep my cat entertained when home alone?
If you're concerned about how to entertain indoor cats when you're out of the home, you're not alone. Many cat owners feel guilty about leaving their beloved pet behind, believing they can't help provide enrichment when they're not around. But there are several ways to keep an indoor cat company when you're out of the house:
• Keeping a radio on is a great way to keep your cat company, especially if you're out of the home most of the day.
• Think about getting a second feline. Just remember this decision might not always work out for the best so should be carefully considered. Reading our vet's guide on how to introduce a new kitten to a cat is a great place to start.
• If you're particularly time-starved, you could also consider a robotic play toy for cats, but since playing with your feline also creates a bond, we'd recommend only using this option when you need it, such as when your work meeting requires a distraction from pesky kitty interruption.
• Setting up a search-and-reward activity, such as hiding part of his regular dry diet around the house, will also provide hours of kitty fun and stimulate a cat's natural hunting instincts.
Activities for indoor cats
If you're considering how to entertain indoor cats in a way that goes beyond simply providing toys and treats, indoor activities are a great way for both owner and feline alike to enjoy their time together.
Here are a few suggestions that are so much fun and don't cost the earth:
1. Provide cardboard boxes
Moggies famously love a good cardboard box. With a playhouse this attractive, you'll never need to throw one away ever again!
It's particularly a good idea to collect a few of different sizes. Our feline friends just love the challenge of squeezing themselves into the smallest spaces possible, plus you can also set up your own DIY cardboard box fort by taping them together if you have plenty to hand.
2. Set up a cat square
Just as fun for owners as it for the feline, behold the mystery of the cat square. This fun activity involves using tape to outline a box shape or two on your floor. Then, wait to see if your kitty will sit in it.
You'll likely find even in the tiniest of space, your cat will be up to the task, even if it takes them a little while to give it a go.
Much like the challenge of squeezing themselves into tiny, real boxes, a cat square works because it brings out your feline's natural behavior. Cats love to hide and feel secure in small spaces.
3. Set up a window bird feeder
There's nothing a cat likes more than chasing birds but, if they live indoors, providing them with some stimulating bird activity could pose a challenge.
Enter the window bird feeder, which also happens to entertain you and any kids in the household too. It's effectively a birdhouse that sticks to your window's exterior, entertaining the residents inside.
We recommend pairing with one of our top picks for the best cat hammocks that sit on the inside of the window, so your feline has somewhere comfortable in which to stretch out and get a good view.
Wild Birds of Joy Bird House Window Bird Feeder $21.95
With a tray that locks in place and holds up to three cups of seed, watch cardinals, blue jays, finches, juncos, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, sparrows and more enjoy themselves through this completely see-through, transparent feeder.
4. Enjoy a spot of indoor fishing
How do you entertain indoor cats that love to fish? Set them up with their very own fish pond, of course! Before you feel dread at the thought of setting up an ambitious indoor water feature, rest assured that the wonders of technology are here to help.
First off, you can download apps for cats, including ones specially devised for fishing. Watch your cat paw at the screen and try to catch their own virtual fish.
If you'd prefer something more tangible, however, there are also some fish-related toys and games, including their very own pond game complete with robotic fish.
Indoor Cat Interactive Swimming Fish Toy $15.99
This set of cat toys comes with four uniquely colored swimming robot fish toys that your cat is sure to enjoy playing with and catching. The interactive cat robot fish toys are a great way to help get your cat excited for playtime by stimulating their natural hunter instincts.
5. Movies for cats
If you're considering how to entertain indoor cats with a spot of distraction, then explore the world of videos for cats.
This cat movie-watching trend involves popping on a film for your feline and can be found on Amazon Prime or, in some cases, YouTube. Typically, these involve bird-watching, so you can be sure your moggie will be fixated on the screen and not attacking your plants.
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Ashleigh is Digital Editor on PetsRadar. With over 8 years of experience in print and digital media, she has acted as an editorial lead on a variety of projects, with animal themes a keen interest. As an avid animal lover, you can often find Ashleigh checking out the newest trends in animal care or looking at cute cat videos on TikTok.