Keeping your pets indoors is often a necessity, but in doing so you may be making your cat bored. It’s no one’s fault; increasingly, people living near busy roads might be unwilling to take the risk of letting their pet outside.
While concern for their safety is understandable, it does put them at risk of under-stimulation. A 2017 study by the University of Copenhagen found that indoor cats were likely to suffer from behavioural problems, often linked to confinement. Buying some of the best cat toys might help, or considering some of the best toys for indoor cats.
The good news is that there are definitely things you can do to prevent kitty fatigue from setting in. Here, we list ten handy tips for keeping your cat on its toes...
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1. Get them some toys. Even boxes are brilliant
An obvious one, perhaps, but essential nonetheless. These can be a mixture of more personal string/stick based toys, to interactive ones for when you’re busy. Variety is the catnip of life, so rotate these out if you can, and buy new ones from time to time. Better yet, leave boxes out. It may be ever so slightly infuriating when kitty initially turns its nose up at that expensive cat tree you just shelled out for in favour of the cardboard box it came in, but indulge them. They’ll thank you for it.
2. Give them a view
Cats like looking out of windows. It really is as simple as that. They like the view, they like seeing what’s going on, and they enjoy the visual stimulation. One study found that the median amount of time spent by cats at windows was two hours, so it really is worth facilitating things so that they get regular access. Maybe position a cat tower close to one, or keep a shelf/cupboard top free for them to pass judgement on the outside world.
3. Provide them with their own furniture
Cat towers and scratching posts are big business. Have a search online or take a look in any pet shop, and you’ll be inundated with multitudes of the things. Often containing objects like rope and hidey-holes, they provide a repository of activities to keep your cats entertained with. More importantly, they’re also beneficial to their development, with scratch posts providing a means for cats to exercise their claws and mark their territory. If they’re scratching a post then there’s less chance they’ll do the same to your carpet!
4. Schedule some play time
There’s a chance your cat may be left alone for long periods of time. Either you have to go to work, or perhaps you’re now working from home, but are subsequently occupied. To make up for this, it is vital that you schedule some one-on-one time with your pet. There’s virtually no limit to the amount of toys that are available – you could get a laser pen, or something as straightforward as a toy mouse. Or just give them a cuddle – cats thrive off of physical attention, and doing so will strengthen your bond and make them feel loved.
5. Get them a cat (or human) buddy
Chances are your cat will be lonely, being by itself around the house all day. If your cat is still fairly young (about two) and generally gets on with other cats, then it’s something we recommend. If budgetary restrictions prevent you from doing this, then why not let a friend, or someone you trust, come round during the day when you’re away or otherwise occupied? They’ll appreciate the attention, and you’ll feel less guilty as a consequence.
6. Invest in an outdoor cat run
Outdoor cat runs/enclosures are a great compromise if you would like your cats to get some fresh air, but are reluctant to let them roam free. There are a number of examples available to buy online (we particularly like this offering from 4wire), and the options for customiZation are endless. With a bit of know-how, you could even connect it to the house via a tunnel and cat flap. It’s not a cheap option, but still worth investigating.
A 6x9ft enclosure adorned with cat-safe 16g wire and replete with 12 shelves and a sleeping box. It’s free standing, and there’s plenty of room to add your own items.View Deal
7. Take them out for walk
If you lack the means to provide a safe outdoor environment, then a more cost-effective option could simply be to take them out for a walk. There are all manner of cat harnesses available (we like this one from BINGPET) – it might be useful to try them on in the house to get them used to them. Also, make sure the harness is labelled with a name or address in case they get away from you (it might also be worth having them microchipped for the same reason). Not all cats like going outdoors, but for those who do, the fresh air will do them a world of good.
This harness fits comfortably around the neck and chest, and should be secure for even the most Houdini-esque of cats. Comes with two D-rings to keep you and your cat together.View Deal
8. Bring the outdoors inside
If you can’t take your cat outside – or they simply don’t want to – then here’s a creative solution: cat grass. Outdoor cats often get into the habit of chewing grass. For indoor cats, there are various benefits. Chewing grass can help them with their digestion, and prevent hairballs from accumulating in their stomach. Furthermore, it’s an extra source of distraction, as it means they’ll be less likely to chew or nibble on household items that you’d rather they avoided. One of the best examples is this set from Catit.
Arriving complete with grass seed, this is a good source of fibre, and a worthy substitute for outdoor cats. This offering is widely available from numerous online retailers.View Deal
9. Provide them with a platform
Another byproduct of boredom of cats is the tendency to repeatedly jump on top of shelves and cupboards. This isn’t great, especially if you have ornaments, books etc that you’d rather weren’t disassembled every time your cat goes on a jumping spree. One way to prevent this is to keep some shelves free, ideally close to a window for them to gaze out of. Some enterprising individuals have gone one step further in constructing their own indoor playgrounds. If you possess the requisite DIY skills, then give it a go!
10. Let the sunshine in
You may or may not have noticed, but cats love the sun. There are few things that make them happier than being warm, and lying in the full glare of the sun seems to do the trick in a number of cases. To this end, leave your curtains open during the day in areas of the house where it’s particularly potent. That way, your cat will be able to stretch out to their heart’s desire.
Ultimately, what you have to remember is cats are complex beings. They require attention and stimulation like any other pet, and thus should be treated with the requisite care. Having a cat isn’t always the cheapest endeavor, but the reward in companionship and love is immeasurable, and makes it all worthwhile. For more ideas on keeping your cat entertained read our round up of the Best Cat Toys 2020
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