Your indoor cat doesn’t need to head outdoors to satisfy their natural instincts and live a happy, healthy life. You can ensure your cat is living their best life indoors by creating a cat-friendly environment and providing them with adequate enrichment and socialization. Our team at Mt. Horeb Animal Hospital has the do’s and don’ts for keeping your indoor cat happy.
Do let your cat climb
Cats are natural climbers, and cats in the wild climb to pursue prey and seek places to view their surroundings safely. While your home doesn’t contain prey, your cat still needs elevated places with a good vantage point that will allow them to playfully pounce on other pets or toys below. Your cat also will appreciate a place to escape from the family dog or overzealous children. Finally, your cat will feel a certain superiority when they’re sitting atop the highest spot in the house, looking out on their kitty kingdom. These vertical climbing spaces can include:
- Cat shelves — Use vacant wall space to install floating shelves your cat can reach. A secure bookcase also can do the trick if you clear some room for your cat and encourage them to explore by scattering catnip or a favorite toy on the shelf.
- Window perch — A suction-mounted window perch can give your cat a place to escape and soak up the sun while enjoying a view of the outdoors.
- Cat tree — A cat tree is perfect for climbing, scratching, and stretching. You can purchase a variety of sizes and configurations or use an online tutorial to build your own cat tree to fit your specific space.
Consider your cat’s age and physical abilities when creating climbing spaces in your home to ensure they can access them easily. Cats don’t lose their desire to climb as they age, but they may not be able to jump as high or as far as they once could. If you notice your cat becoming more hesitant to jump or climb, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out an underlying health condition, such as arthritis.
Don’t let your cat get bored
You might not think your cat can get bored with all the time they spend napping, but cats can—and do—get bored. Boredom can lead to a variety of behavioral and physical health problems, so your cat’s environment should provide mental and physical enrichment. You can engage your cat by:
- Making meals more fun — In the wild, cats have to hunt for their food, and you can encourage your cat to partake in this instinctive, satisfying behavior by using food puzzles or hiding small portions of their food or treats around the house for them to find. Start by hiding a treat in the same spot each day. After a few days, try to hide the treat near the original location but not exactly in the same place. Once your cat has gotten used to “hunting” for the treat, you can move on to more remote areas. This should be done daily so your cat gets used to the routine of search and reward.
- Providing interactive toys — Interactive toys are a great way to activate your cat’s natural prey drive. Most cats love feather wands—or anything that dangles from a pole—and motion-activated mice toys. And don’t underestimate the fun of a cardboard box, where your cat can hide and stalk their prey.
Do provide your pet with places to scratch
Scratching is a natural and necessary behavior for cats. Cats scratch for many different reasons, including maintaining their nails, marking their territory, stretching, and relieving stress. Place scratching posts—made of materials like wood, sisal rope, rough fabric, or cardboard—in areas your cat frequents often, such as near their favorite resting places and next to their food and water bowls. When choosing a scratching post for your cat, ensure it’s tall enough for them to scratch at full stretch and includes both horizontal and vertical scratching surfaces.
Don’t skip your cat’s annual wellness exam
Preventive care is essential for your indoor cat’s wellbeing, and healthy adult cats should be seen by their veterinarian at least once a year. This ensures your cat will get the vaccinations they need, and allow your veterinarian to detect and act on any health issues that may be developing.
Do spend quality time with your cat
Love and attention are the most powerful ways to keep any cat happy. Domesticated cats crave human attention, and you’d be surprised at how far some snuggles and playtime will go in boosting your cat’s mood—and your own—while supporting their emotional wellbeing.
By creating an enriching, cat-friendly environment, you can ensure your cat enjoys a happy, healthy life inside your home. Contact our Mt. Horeb Animal Hospital team to schedule your cat’s annual wellness exam.