Life as an indoor cat has many benefits – ready food sources, shelter and a safe environment. But indoor cats are still cats, thriving on many of the instinctual behaviors of their ancestors. There are easy ways you can provide additional stimulation that satisfy their curiosity and keep them from being bored. Without that motivation, boredom can be bad news – potentially leading to a host of unwanted behaviors such as aggression, marking and, well, destroying your new shoes.
A Room with a View
One of the easiest ways to make your cat's world more interesting is to enlist Mother Nature. Make sure your cat has places where she can look out the window and see what's going on. If you don't have an ample windowsill, consider installing a window bed or, even better, getting a cat tree. Domesticated cats have transitioned from kings of the jungle to lords of the living room, but they still like to be able to survey their domain. They seek out places where they can be as high up as possible. A cat tree provides a safe and sturdy way for your cat to see the world from the highest vantage point instead of having your bookcase be the only elevated option. You can help Mother Nature along by placing items of visual interest directly outside the window. These could include a bird feeder, mobile, spinning weather vane or wind chimes.
Another way to create a new view for your cat is to take one away. If your cat typically has the run of the house while you're at work, consider closing doors to different rooms periodically to cut off access. When those doors are reopened, cats have a rotating "new" area to investigate.
Bring the Outside In
There are items you can bring from the outside in to develop a feline-friendly urban jungle. An indoor cat garden is easy to create where you can grow cat grass or even catnip; let your cat have fresh catnip and dry some, as well, to hide in toys. Add a tree branch or two to the garden so your cat can experience new smells without leaving the house. Rotate the branches occasionally to keep things fresh.
Fountains don't have to be strictly outside décor. Consider giving your cat a drinking fountain instead of a water bowl. It will be something different, and some cats enjoy playing with the water stream.
The Joys of Toys
Cats don't play cards or video games (that we know of), but they should have toys that are equally appealing to them. Variety is key, in both quantity and types of toys. These should include toys they can interact with on their own – small stuffed animals, balls with bells in them and random things to bat around. Just like with limiting access to certain rooms, rotating toys in and out means your cat always has something new to play – and doesn't break the bank.
Speaking of not spending a lot of money, some DIY toys can be made from items you probably already have around your house. A cardboard box or a paper bag – either a small one balled up or a large one left wide open to explore – can provide hours of amusement. You can easily create a foraging toy for your cat by cutting some holes into an old shoebox, creating "windows" for your cat to access a small toy like a ping pong ball or even a balled up old sock. Remember to reward your cat for playing with toys rather than your couch with a delicious mix of crunchy kibble and tender, shredded meaty pieces only found in .
The Hunt is On
Despite many cats having a pampered life indoors, cats are still animals of prey. Tap into their natural behaviors as stalkers and hunters by providing appealing ways for them to use their sense of smell and sense of adventure at the same time. Before you leave for work, hide a few dry treats around the house for your cat to discover while you're gone. You can also include toys with your home-grown dried catnip. Keep in mind to factor the hidden treats into your cat's overall diet to prevent him or her from gaining weight.