10 Tips for Keeping An Indoor Cat Happy

Cat owners often struggle with whether or not to let their feline friends outdoors. The dilemma could stem from their pet’s possible impacts on nature. A recent study showed that cats eat more than 2,000 species, about 16% of which are of conservation concern. There are also safety benefits for indoor cats, including a longer average lifespan, a lower risk of getting infectious cat diseases, and less of a concern about predators, cars, and ill-intentioned people. If you decide to keep your cat indoors due to these concerns, they can still be perfectly happy and healthy. There are just a few things to keep in mind.

Help Satisfy Their Hunting Instinct

Even if cats are inside all day, they’re still going to have their hunting instinct. While, hopefully, there won’t be actual mice to hunt inside, there can be catnip mice. Using cat toys and play time to bring out your cat’s inner hunter is a must. To accomplish this, you can hide your cat’s food or treats in toys around the house, or use toys pulled along by a string, stuffed with catnip, covered in feathers, or those that move on their own. Anything that gets your cat stalking, pouncing, and running is key for her wellbeing.

Cat hunts toy

Ensure They Have Scratchers

Scratching is also an essential cat behavior, one that allows them to mark their territory and keep their claws sharp and healthy. Outside, they can do this with posts and trees. Inside, though, you’ll need to provide them with plenty of scratching posts, if you don’t want them to perfect their murder mittens on your couch or other furniture. Cats will have different preferences, and you may need to test out a few options. There are vertical and horizontal scratchers, some attached to cat trees, and different types of material. You can spread catnip on them to encourage your cat to use them, too. Whichever type works, be sure there are plenty in different spots around the house.

Vertical Space is Important

Yet another cat instinct involves the desire to be elevated. Cats need some vertical space so they can feel safe when stressed and be able to observe their surroundings. If high enough, these spaces can also give them a place safe from people and any canine roommates. There are plenty of options, the most common of which is the cat tree. Cat trees come in a wide variety of heights, with a mix of cubbies, perches, and beds. Get a couple of them to scatter around the house. Cat shelves and standalone perches are also an option. The more kitty can observe her kingdom from safety, the better.

Cat sits in cat tree

Give Them a Refuge From Bigger Pets or Kids

Cat trees and perches also provide a key aspect of a good cat home: a refuge for your feline friend. Sometimes kitty needs a breather, especially if there are smaller kids or bigger dogs or maybe extra excitable kittens. While cat trees and perches are a start, you may want to offer them access to their own room, too. Of course, if you have limited space, you may need to improvise.

Grow Cat Grass

While cats are obligate carnivores, they will snack on some greens outside. It can help with digestion and with eliminating. To allow them this taste of outdoor snackage, you can grow cat grass inside. Another plant they may appreciate having on hand is catnip, which is obviously a favorite for most kitties.

Cat eats grass

Build a Catio

Another way you can bring the outdoors to your cat is by building a catio. This is an outdoor enclosure that allows your cat to sit or play in the grass while ensuring they’re secure from other dangers… and that certain small animals are safer from cat danger. A screened in porch also works for this purpose. Both options get your cat some fresh air and fun stimulation.

Turn On the ‘Cat TV’

Speaking of stimulation, you may need to get your feline friend some cat TV. We’re not talking about a streaming service, though that does sound tempting. Cat TV is a slang term for a window that cats can use to observe birds and other outdoor happenings. You can install a window perch so kitty has a prime view, or you can find a cat tree that’s about the height of the windowsill. For a little extra pizzazz, you can install a bird feeder outside the window. Just make sure the window is screened and you keep an eye on your cat if you decide to open the glass portion.

Cat looks out window, enjoying cat TV

Provide an Enriching Environment with Plenty of Exercise

If you’ve got the fresh air covered, exercise is the next step. In addition to ensuring your home offers plenty of hunting simulation, be sure it also provides some fun and other physical activity. This can come directly from you, while you play with your furry friend. Fetch, wand toys, and tossing a crumpled up paper are simple options. Cats also enjoy places to hide and explore, so putting a handle-free paper shopping bag, cardboard boxes, and cat tunnels around your place will give your cat lots of fun and adventure. When it comes to other fun toys, rotate them in and out for novelty.

They May Like Some Company

If you have an only cat who would probably prefer to be an only cat, remember that she could use plenty of your companionship. Play with her, snuggle her, brush her, even talk to her. She’ll appreciate having you around. If your cat is amenable to a friend, though, it may be worth looking into another cat. This will give them someone to play and groom with, and it will give them someone to hang out with when you’re at work or on vacation. Regardless of other pets in the house, you should always spend quality time with each of your cats each day, though, just like you would a dog. Cats can be just as affectionate, and even as “needy”, as dogs.

Two indoor cat friends

Be Prepared in Case They Escape

Even if your cat is indoors, it’s important to remember that escapes can happen. As such, ensuring your pet has a collar with ID and a microchip is essential. You should also be sure they’re spayed and neutered, or an escape could mean kittens that ultimately can’t find homes. Indoor cats may also benefit from flea treatment. Talk to your veterinarian about your best options there.

With all these tips in mind, your cat can thrive without having to roam the wilds.

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