Think of what it is like for an indoor cat, from his or her point of view. I know that cats are safe from all the health and safety hazards that the outdoor world presents (cars, diseases, other cats…). Yet there is a chance that being 100% indoors can be detrimental both physically and mentally, to some extent. After all, they are natural-born predators made for a life of action. While some cats would be content to spend their lives simply sleeping and eating, low activity can lead to weight problems. As with people, being overweight can lead to diabetes, arthritis and respiratory problems. Here are some tips to avoid just that, and to get them moving, burning calories, and avoiding boredom.
If you are decorating, or redecorating, consider your kitty. They love trees, shelves and perches. You don’t need them in every room of your house, but is nice to be able to even clear a shelf for them to perch upon. Ideally, this would be an area that provides them a good view of the outdoors. Consider the correct furniture or tree for your age cat. Elderly and debilitated cats, for instance, probably don’t need to be resting 6 feet off the floor. Overweight cats may need larger resting perches and cubby holes.
Although cat trees and other furniture options are enticing to felines, a window may very well be the most alluring object in the house. Windows allow an indoor-only cat a safe “escape” to the great outdoors . There are cat-specific sills for purchase, and it may be a great investment for you. They enjoy sunshine, fresh air and to see, hear and smell what is happening in the outside world just as we do. They are curious, and find bird and squirrel watching just as entertaining as we do, if not more. So a bird feeder next to a window can be perfect. Sleeping in a warm patch of sunshine on a cool day is also a great way to spend an afternoon. And, the height of the sill promotes activity and movement, requiring them to jump up to it in order to get their view.
It may seem like new feline-friendly toys are introduced to the market on a daily basis. The options are plentiful, and not all are right for your cat. To help pick one that might be right for you, consider that cats seem to prefer items that offer multiple-sensory involvement, such as smell, sound, feel and sight. So a toy scented with catnip, for example, that is also made of crinkly material scrunched and then thrown may be just the thing to entertain your cat. Toys that allow a treat to be placed inside offer the advantages of exercise to acquire food, and him catching and then consuming his “prey”. Toys that have some movement potential are idea, such as spring-mounted toys, pingpong balls or battery-operated objects. Keep in mind, that mixing them up every so often is important, say every 1-2 months. This will help them avoid losing interest in them.
And remember, interaction between you and your cat is essential to promote good mental health, as well as beating boredom. Sometimes the simplest toys, such as a laser pointer or feather on a stick, when directed by you, is the most fun, for both of you. It is fun for cats to have a furry mouse or crinkly ball to bat around, but even better to have a chase toy with his beloved person. Even tossing some kibble down on the floor for him or her to chase may be enjoyable for some cats.
Don’t underestimate the stimulation and enjoyment they get through social interactions such as cuddling, petting and talking to them.
No joke. It has been shown that TV’s are intriguing to cats. There are several types of DVD’s to choose from that are “popular” with cats. There are bug movies, fish ones, and bird videos, to name a few. They are available and crafted with cats in mind, and can stave off boredom, while providing entertainment and a form of companionship. Things with horizontal movement seem to catch their attention, and they have been shown to watch for 30 minutes at a time. OK, this is not physical exercise, but mentally stimulating all the same. Showing prey on the screen, or other cats, could also be useful.
5. Go crazy with catnip
The question of whether catnip beats boredom has been ongoing. Many people believe that toys laced with this aromatous herb may, in fact, be an excellent tool for combatting boredom in some cats. Many cats love smelling it, rolling around in it, and playing with toys that contain it, while falling asleep with it. You can use it to attract interested cats to a new scratching post or a new piece of cat furniture. Remember, though, that there are cats that have no interest in it, as the sensitivity to it appears to be genetic. And a few cats actually become to aroused with catnip, and become aggressive around it. Obviously, avoid it in those cases.
So remember, helping kitty beat boredom can be as simple as picking up a few toys at the store, setting aside a bin or shelf for him, or a bit of time each day for both of you to spend together. Pull out a few empty bags or boxes and allow for an impromptu game of feline hide and seek. It may make all the difference.