Is your cat bored when they are at home alone? Many indoor cats, while being kept safe from the dangers of the outside world, miss the distractions that the outside world can offer. They need to be given access to enrichment alternatives like the best cat toys, best cat scratching posts and best cat puzzle feeders to keep them entertained.
Indoor cats only get stimulation from what's in their home, so it's important that you provide them with enough activities and distractions as possible. Not only will it give your feline friend the stimulation they crave to stop them getting depressed and anxious, it will also save your furniture from potentially destructive behavior.
These kinds of behavioral problems in indoor cats were highlighted in a 2017 study from the University of Copenhagen, so while confinement indoors will generally mean they live longer and protect them from feline diseases, you need to ensure their mental health doesn't suffer in the process.
To help you ensure your cat is kept active and happy, we've put together a list of 10 recommended practices to ensure you cat has everything they need to prevent kitty fatigue. It's not just a case of providing them with the best toys for indoor cats – although these really help! – there are a multitude of ways to ensure your cat lives a life of plentiful distraction within your home. Let's dive straight in:
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The first on the list, as we've mentioned, is cat toys. They are a great way to deter boredom, but cats are finickity creatures, so finding the right one for your cat is essential. That said, even when you do find one they love, the novelty of that toy can soon wear off. This is why it's important to provide your cat with variety in their toy box. It's worth rotating their access to toys over time too, to help keep their interest, and remember to play with them with their toys to help them stay engaged.
If you are looking to spend some bonding time with your cat, teaser toys are perfect. They are as simple as a stick and some string, with a feather or a bell attached to it, but flicking them around in front of your cat will stimulate their hunting instinct. And there's nothing cuter than a cat trying to capture something you are in control of! However, remember not to leave them alone with a teaser toy, as they are experts at detaching that feather or bell and trying to eat it.
For times when they are alone, look at investing in one of our choice of the best interactive cat toys. While more expensive, they can keep your furry friend amused for hours, and often have settings that will cause the toy to come to life at various times of the day to reengage their interest after they have lost interest.
You don't need to fork out for expensive toys though, a simple cardboard box can keep a moggie thoroughly entertained. They also like to play with anything new in their living environment – even leaving a ping pong ball or a large bottle cap lying around can get them chasing around the kitchen and enjoying themselves.
2. Give them a view
Cats love to watch the world from the comfort of their own home, and will spend hours staring out of windows at any activity happening outside. Make sure your kitty has access to rooms with windows so they can satiate their desire to check out what's going on around where they live.
A study involving 577 cats showed that when given access kitties spend on average 2 hours staring out of the window – with some spending 5 hours a day enjoying the view. You can help them out by placing a cat tower close to a window so they have a high perch to judge the neighbors from. There are also cat hammocks and beds available that use suction pads to allow you to attach them to the window, so they can bask in the sun while watching the world go by to their heart's content.
3. Cat furniture
Cats love to be up high and they love to scratch, so a cat tower or a scratching post (or a cat tower with a scratching post) is a great investment. Many cat towers include hidey holes or interactive bits and bobs, so make sure you do your research to find the best one for your cat. And there are plenty of cat towers that are designed to look very cool in your space, so don't worry about one mucking up your interior design.
The more scratching posts you provide a cat, the less chance they'll turn those claws on your furniture, so make sure you grab one! Scratch posts help cats keep their claw length down and let them mark their territory, so they're a crucial thing to have in ever cat household.
4. Play time
Cats are definitely more low-maintenance than dogs, but that doesn't meant they're no maintenance. Most cats need some playtime with their human, as well, especially if your cat is left alone for long periods of time. 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
Your cat may get lonely, especially if you've spent a chunk of time at home lately and are now venturing back out. That's why companionship is a great option to help keep your cat entertained. If your cat is still fairly young and generally gets on with other cats, then you might want to considering adopting another cat!
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 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 (opens in new tab)), 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.
7. Take them out for walk
Believe it or not, you can take cats out for a walk using a cat harness. You may need to harness train your cat first, but a cost-effective way to give your cats some outdoor time is to grab them a harness (we like this one (opens in new tab) from BINGPET). To help harness train them, put the harness on your cat while they're in the house (without the leash attached) and let them walk around with it on. Give them lots of treats and try and stay persistent with it, as they may be a bit dramatic and refuse to move around it in it.
After you've trained them, try and take them outside, but 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.
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 (opens in new tab) 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.
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!
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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 (opens in new tab).
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Steve writes and proofreads buying guides, news stories and advice for Pets Radar, drawing on his lifelong experience as a pet owner. Currently sharing his house with two cats and a dog, he draws on the many highs and occasional lows of pet ownership he has borne witness to in his writing. He has worked in publishing for 15 years as an editor, sub editor and writer on a range of titles, such as SciFiNow, How It Works, All About History, Real Crime and Horrorville. You can follow him on Twitter @stevewright22
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