By: Robin Desmet – April, 2018
Without a doubt, cats that are kept indoors live longer than cats that are allowed to roam freely outside. But are these indoor cats happy? I think they can be, but it requires a bit of effort and creativity on the part of the owner.
Cats crave stimulation and excitement. Spending time playing with your cat is a terrific way of bonding with your fluffy friend and is also a way to give your cat some all-important exercise. Cats love chasing lasers and chasing balls. They delight in trying to catch that fish on the end of the pole or the feathers of a wand toy. Cats love to run through tunnels and chase a ball around a track.
There are now many different types of interactive battery operated toys which keep cats interested and active. If you are on a budget, offer your cat an empty paper bag or box or crumple up some paper into balls that you can toss for them. Try to rotate the toy offerings and don’t leave all of the toys out at the same time. Cats love the variety and stimulation that comes with new toys. As a foster Mom, I am always on the lookout for new and interesting games and toys for the cats.
Cats love their playtime, but equally important to cats is naptime. Cats like to be comfortable and they enjoy a cozy spot to curl up in the afternoon while they await their owner’s return. A cat bed with high sides placed in a cozy, draft free spot is perfect for most cats. A folded blanket placed on the couch or bed or inside a box will also do. I keep a special blanket on the floor in front of the gas fireplace at all times for my cats. It has become a favorite spot for the cats whether the fireplace is on or off. Going to be gone all day? Why not leave some soft music playing while you’re gone? And don’t forget to keep the house at a temperature that is comfortable for the cats.
Another thing to consider are the basic needs of your indoor cats. Cats like to climb and they like to be up high. Invest in a cat tree that offers a high perch. Cats love to scale these indoor trees and spend time at the top looking over their kingdom. Scratching posts are very important. I find it best to offer vertical and horizontal options so that all of the cat’s scratching needs are met. An adequate number of clean litter boxes is a must. A rule of thumb is to offer one more litter box than the number of cats that you have. I.e. if you have 2 cats, you will need 3 litter boxes.
All of the above are great, but the one thing missing that cats really enjoy is fresh air. A cat perch or tree placed in front of a window will give your cats some fresh air and the pleasure of watching the birds and the squirrels from the safety of the house.
There are now many types of patio and backyard enclosures available for every budget. These “catios” can be as simple as a box enclosure placed over a window (similar to an air conditioning unit) or a large, free standing enclosure with various levels and perches for your cats to enjoy.
Comfort, stimulation, exercise, and variety will go a long way in keeping your cat happy indoors. Add your love and attention and you have the perfect combination to keep your indoor cat happy and safe.