Wondering what to do if your indoor cat is bored?
If you’ve been reading my recent posts about indoor cat parenting (including the reasons why you should consider keeping your cat indoors and how you can tell if your indoor cat is bored), you’ll know that keeping your cat indoors is a mixed blessing.
One one hand, they’re kept protected and safe from harm.
On the other hand, there’s a risk that they’ll become bored, lonely and possibly even develop depression or anxiety. Which as a mindful and loving pet parent, I know is the last thing you want to hear.
So what should you do? And how can you keep your indoor cat happy?
Well first of all, I’d like to mention that I think it’s not an either or situation. You can keep your cats indoors AND ensure that they’re happy and entertained. In fact, VetMed believes that indoor cats can have just as a happy, fulfilled and peaceful existence as outdoor cats.
The catch? You need to tailor your cat’s environment (i.e. your home) to meet their needs. Thankfully, this isn’t as hard – or as much of an eyesore – as you might think.
How you can create a zen and boredom-free environment for your indoor cat
To get you started on your boredom-free-kitty mission, here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up on my journey of raising two happy and content indoor cats:
- Hide the kibble.
Cats are hunters. It may not be an aspect of their personality you particularly cherish, but it’s a natural component of who are they are. Which means one of the best ways to keep them entertained is to stimulate their predatory instincts. An easy, and humane, solution to this endeavour is to hide little bits of food (I use pieces of dry food a.k.a kibble) around the house. On chairs, under stools, on their scratching post; anywhere you’d be comfortable with your kitty investigating and exploring is a good place to try out. Pro tip: Change up the hiding locations each day, otherwise your clever kitties will figure it out and it’ll cease being a ‘hunt’!
- Puzzle toys.
In the same vein, I’ve found that puzzle toys are a great way to keep my incredibly food-motivated kitties entertained. I’m using the Catit puzzle feeder at the moment and it is multi-tasking as a toy AND a way to ensure my guzzle-guts don’t gorge themselves on food too quickly.
- TV time.
Let me ask you a question: What do you do in your down-time? Do you read a book? Watch TV? Go for a walk? Just like you need quiet time where you’re still being kept passively entertained, so too do your kitties need some non-active entertainment options. A few great solutions are setting up a few window perches so your cat can check out what’s happening outside (and get the 411 on that whole bird situ). You can also buy some DVD’s designed to entertain cats or set up an aquarium for your kitties to watch like a giant, swimming TV. Just make sure it’s in a safe location that your cats can’t get to and where the fish don’t see the cats (and get stressed).
- Quality hang out time.
And even though the above three items are fab for keeping your cat entertained, they don’t replace some good, old-fashioned quality time with you and your kitty. I’d use this time to play with them (chaser toys are great for playtime!), brush them – if they like that – or just hang out and be in their presence. Cats get lonely too.
- Catify your pad.
I’m a HUGE fan of Jackson Galaxy and a proud advocate of the catify movement. But wait, what the heck is catifying? Catifying is simply making your home more cat-friendly by setting up beds, scratching posts, kitty jungle gyms, elevated ‘kitty freeways’ and climbing areas for your cats to let loose and indulge in some natural cat behaviour. The good news is that catifying your home doesn’t have to be an eyesore either, there are some really cool options that actually look like designer human furniture. I’ll do a post on some stuff I love soon, but for now why not check out Jackson’s book.
- Teach your cat tricks.
Why should dogs get all the fun? With patience and persistence, cats can be taught some basic – and even expert – tricks too. You can try clicker training and treat training if your cat is food motivated, but just make sure you account for the the food you give them in their daily meal allocation.
- Cat agility.
You know what would be really cool, and fun, for a cat? If you set up an at-home agility course for them. Full of things to climb, explore, tunnel through and walk over, an agility course is a great way to help them get some exercise while keeping them entertained and mentally stimulated. The best part is that you don’t have to go out and spend a fortune on designer agility gear; just use what you have at home or in the garage. If in doubt, just think of the cardboard box your cat spent hours in. She doesn’t care about fancy, trust me.
- Take them on an adventure.
As an indoor cat, I’m betting that your little Mittens longs for the great outdoors sometimes. But as a pro-indoor-advocate, this isn’t as easy as opening the door and letting them outside, right? I hear you. But this doesn’t mean that your cat can’t ever go outside. Instead, just be clever about it. Buy them a harness and leash and take them for a walk around the neighbourhood. Take them for a drive with you. Find a secluded, animal-friendly (but dog-free) park or beach to take them to and then walk them on their leash. Most of the time they’ll just want to roll around on the grass or sniff stuff. And even though it doesn’t look like much to you, it’s actually the adventure of a lifetime for your cat.
And don’t limit yourself to these suggestions either! You’re a creative and incredible being with a bucketload of imagination. And I know you’ve had some great ideas that I haven’t even thought of before.
Disclaimer: Please consult your trusted vet or holistic animal health expert before making any changes to your pet’s diet or lifestyle. While I aim to offer well-researched and balanced articles, I am by no means as well-informed as your veterinarian. Please use your own inner guidance and the wisdom of the pro’s when making decisions regarding your pet’s wellbeing.