There are many simple, engaging ways to keep indoor cats healthy and happy. And it all ties back to what your cat would be doing in the wild. In our previous post we discussed why it’s important to bring the outdoors inside for your cat; in this post we will share with you some more of our favorite ideas for creating a fun, stimulating environment for your cat.
Tap into their natural hunting instincts
Preventing cats from hunting and catching prey is one reason they are kept indoors. In fact, there are many parts of the world where it’s becoming illegal to let housecats outside because of the environmental damage they can cause in a delicate ecosystem. While this is good for both us and their prey, it deprives cats from an engaging in activities that are natural to them. Hunting keeps cats’ mental and physical health strong, which is why it’s necessary to give them an outlet to express their desire to hunt. Giving your cat feeding puzzles, hiding food in new places, throwing them treats, and rotating flavors and textures is a great way to tap into their natural predatory behavior.
Beyond this, cats should be offered many different opportunities to consume a smorgasbord of food textures, flavors, brands, and nutrients. Ideally, they should consume a minimum of 5 small meals in a variety of containers and in different places just like their outdoor counterparts do. Outdoor cats eat mice, lizards, snakes, birds, bugs and other critters and they consume them in safe places close to where they were killed.
There are many ways in which to mimic this for your indoor kitty, and it is easy to do with egg cartons, paper cupcake holders, small brown bags, paper plates, puzzle feeders, and cat plates and bowls. Allot small amounts of food (both wet and dry) into the different feeding apparatuses and place each separately around the house. They can be put on top of tables, under chairs, in a corner or on a shelf in order to help your cat hunt for their food. This not only helps keep their bodies in better shape, but it stimulates their minds and provides them with a purpose!
Exercise and play are as important for indoor cats as they are for you!
Back in our cave-people days humans walked miles and miles every day, hunted and gathered for food, and engaged in quick sprints in order to evade predators. Since most humans no longer live this lifestyle, we substitute exercise routines in order to get this important physical activity in. Cats are no different, especially indoor cats who are no longer living the outdoor life of their ancestors. Physically playing with your cat and encouraging them to run, chase, and have fun is easy to do with toys, games, and activities.
Outdoor have unlimited opportunities to play, explore, climb, and hunt. But indoor kitties are not as lucky and need help from their caretakers. We designed our Wiggly Ping, Pong, and Balls to have tails that mimic the movement of small prey and encourage cats to chase, bat, or fetch them. Wand toys are inexpensive and great for encouraging cats to run, jump, and catch prey; interactive toys are becoming increasingly available and toy options are expanding. Cats that don’t play enough are bored, depressed and many suffer physically from the lack of it. Indoor cats not only need lots of different types of toys to play with, they also need their owners to play with them. Playing with your cat is a great way to get much-needed physical activity for both of you!
Add places in your home for your cat to climb, perch, and hide
Anyone who has had to call the fire department to get their cat out of a tall tree knows that many kitties love climbing up as high as they can. And while some cats like to climb high, others prefer to hang low. For instance, Dezi & Roo product test cat Peanut loves burrowing under things, and when she isn’t in her Hide and Sneak, her favorite sleeping place is a bed under our coffee table. Every cat household should have several appropriate places for their cats to enjoy; adding tall places in your home for your cat to perch, and ground floor places to hide will all help indoor cats feel like they are outside. Clearing off shelves and making it easy for cats to climb does not take much effort, and placing a bed, cave, basket or container on top of furniture is a great way for cats to nest in safely. Boxes, laundry baskets, beds with dust ruffles, open drawers and closets all provide good opportunities for cats that feel more secure on the ground. Bringing out a suitcase for your cat to play and sleep in, and then putting it away the next day is another novel way in which to bring a little excitement into your cat’s life.
There are many good reasons to keep a cat indoors, but there are no good reasons for failing to create an environment that is stimulating and natural for them. A little creativity goes a long way helping your indoor cat be stimulated, engaged, happy, and healthy! We love hearing from our cat parents, so feel free to share your great ideas for keeping indoor cats happy and healthy in the comment section below!