If you're looking for a fun and innovative way to entertain your cat, one option is to invite birds to spend time outside your windows. Cats are naturally drawn to watching the birds and giving your cat access to viewing a bird feeder can provide them with hours of entertainment. Bird feeders provide great enrichment for cats, especially when you're not able to spend time playing together.
Keeping cats indoors
Although some cats seem to enjoy having unsupervised access to the outside, for their safety and the safety of the environment, it's important that cats live indoors. UC Davis Veterinary Medicine notes that outdoor cats have a lifespan of two to five years, whereas indoor cats on average have lifespans of 10 — 15 years. In addition, allowing your domestic cat to be outside can cause a serious impact on the environment. Cats are hunters, and it is estimated that domestic cats kill 1.3 — 4.0 billion birds and 6.3 — 22.3 billion mammals annually. The majority of the killings of birds happen from cats without homes or owners however, free-range cats also have a significant impact on the environment. One reason that some people say they can't or won't keep their cats indoors is that they would be bored living inside the house. However, not only are cats safer inside, but they can also be happy and entertained indoors.
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Cats do sleep a lot, but they also need daily outlets and opportunities to play and explore. A great way to provide cat enrichment and to ensure your cat is exercised and engaged is to make sure that your cat has access to a variety of toys. This includes ones that are treat dispensing, and/or contain catnip. You can also provide your cat with perches and cat trees to climb and explore inside the home. This kind of enrichment will help keep your cat entertained and well-exercised indoors. Another great option is to add bird feeders outside your windows for your cat to watch and engage with from a distance. This also keeps the birds safe from your cat.
Bird feeder options
When looking at bird feeders there are a variety of options to choose from. Some are designed to be placed in your yard for your cat to be able to watch from a window. You can also purchase bird feeders that are lightweight, acrylic, and attach to your window with suction cups. Once filled with birdseed, these feeders will encourage birds to perch and approach your window and, will give your cat a close-up view of birds. Watching birds as they fly up to the window is a fun activity for cats, and very quickly birds figure out that the cat cannot get to them, even if they paw at the glass window. You may also want to remove any breakable decorations or flowerpots from the windowsill, as excited cats may attempt to get closer to the bird feeders to get a better view. To encourage your cat to watch the birds, you can even move your cat's perch or tree to be near the window, to give your cat a closer view of the birds.
Monitor your cat
If you are putting a bird feeder up outside your window, or onto your window for your cat to watch, make sure that the window is securely closed and locked. This is important to prevent your cat from jumping or falling from the window and getting lost or injured. Many cats will enjoy the "kitty TV" effect of being able to watch birds in the bird feeder. However, if at any point, your cat begins to display any symptoms of anxiety or seems frustrated by seeing the birds, move or remove the bird feeder and engage your cat in activities they enjoy and don't find stressful.