Indoor cats have a pretty good life. They stay safe from the elements and are protected from neighborhood predators and speeding cars. Still, the indoor cat life can be…shall we say, boring? Although your indoor kitty loves attention from you, they get far less activity overall than their outdoor counterparts. 

Unfortunately, a lack of activity can affect indoor cat health. Obesity is one of the most common conditions affecting cats, and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to being overweight. In addition, a lack of social interaction, destructive behavior due to boredom, and overlooked health issues are all side effects of an indoor lifestyle. 

Luckily, enriching the lives and environment of indoor cats has become top of mind recently for pet owners, veterinary professionals, and all those who love cats. In this post, we share ways to give your indoor cat the best of both worlds – safety, and well-being. 

Engaging Your Indoor Cat

Cats in the wild display specific natural behaviors that make them, well, cats. Replicating opportunities for your cat to express their basic instincts helps your cat maintain physical and mental health. 

Climb – In the wild, cats like to climb up to survey their territory from above, and your cat is no different. If you have the space, a cat tree is a great investment. The best cat trees provide flat spots where your cat can perch and an enclosed space for them to hide. You can create a vertical climbing wall if you don’t have the floor space for a cat tree. Cat climbing walls are perches and shelves installed on the wall at different heights, allowing your cat to climb, leap, and perch.  

Scratch – Wild cats of all sizes scratch trees to mark territory and release their scent. Left to their own devices, domestic cats scratch furniture because they need scratching to satisfy their biological instincts. Save your furniture by providing a vertical scratching post that also allows stretching to your cat’s entire length. 

Hunt – cats are natural hunters, which gives them a lot of physical and mental exercise. You can simulate “the hunt” indoors in many ways. For example, try a feather wand, a game of laser pointer tag, or a catnip mouse toy. You can also hide high-value (read: tasty) around your home and encourage your cat to “hunt” for them. 

Enrich Your Cat’s Indoor Environment

In addition to offering opportunities to express their natural instincts, there are plenty of ways to enhance their indoor environment. 

You can:

Grow an indoor catnip garden – Cats love fresh greens and what better way to offer this than to grow your own? 

Provide a pet water fountain – Many cats love the sound, taste, and feel of running water, so instead of leaving your bathroom faucet running, give your cat her own fountain and watch the fun that unfurls. 

Offer your cat a window seat – Cats enjoy a window perch where they can nap in the sunshine and watch the birds and squirrels go by. 

Provide interactive toys – Many interactive cat toys and interactive feeders offer your cat hours of mental and physical stimulation and help keep them lean and fit. 

Go Outdoors Safely

If your cat is really interested in the outdoors, there are a few ways to get outside safely. 

A catio – if you haven’t heard of this invention, you have a world of Pinterest ideas coming your way. Catios are outdoor enclosures that allow cats to experience the outdoors while remaining safe. Choose from window boxes, tunnels, or self-contained structures. There are plans to DIY a catio or buy one already set up for you. Larger catios can be attached to your house, with an entrance from inside your home to the catio space. 

Leash walks – It may seem counter-intuitive, but cats can be trained to walk on a leash. Cats should have a harness that fits properly so they cannot wiggle out. First, acclimate your cat to the leash and harness indoors, and encourage them with praise and positivity. When they are happy and relaxed, gradually move to outdoor walks. 

Pet stroller – Simply Google “Pet stroller,” and you will see the many options available. This is another way to take your cat outside without the risk of injury or accident. 

Indoor Cat Health

All these ideas will keep your cat happy and healthy, but your attention is best. Contrary to popular belief, cats are social creatures who thrive on attention and social interaction, so lots of time with you is crucial to their overall health. So spend time petting, brushing, and simply being with your cat, and you’ll have a happy kitty. 

There are plenty of ways to give your indoor cat the mental and physical enrichment they need. Whatever ways you choose, your cat will thank you. If you have questions or want more information about indoor cat enrichment, please call our team at Felton Veterinary Hospital. We are here to help!