More cat parents are choosing to keep their feline friends indoors, so how can you ensure they are getting the physical and mental stimulation they need to be happy and healthy? Our resident cat behaviourist Anita Kelsey explains.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a garden for their cat to play in, or easy access to the great outdoors from a window or ledge, especially in large cities. It’s also a well-known fact that most people with pedigree cats keep them exclusively indoors, which many cats can find frustrating.
For indoor cats or ones that used to roam but have since been moved into a place with no outside access, it’s essential that they’re given lots of stimulation within their own homes. You and I are able to go outside every day and be stimulated by hundreds of different sensations – sound, visual candy and smells, but it’s a different story for the indoor cat who only has its owner’s home as its ‘life’.
When confining a cat indoors, owners commonly make the mistake of providing no stimulation and this, in turn, can lead to your cat sleeping for most of its life through boredom and becoming obese. It’s important to remember that cats are animals and the natural state of a cat is to hunt, kill, eat and sleep.
Understanding your cat, its origins and basic natural behaviour will help you to see what needs to be done inside its home environment and will enable your cat to have the happiest and most fulfilling life it can, especially if it’s confined for the rest of its natural life.
Below are some important ways you can improve your cat’s indoor environment.
Heads up: This post contains affiliate links. You won’t pay a penny more for anything you purchase but we will receive a small commission, so we can buy more kitty treats! Rest assured we only ever feature carefully chosen products that we genuinely love. For more information see our Affiliate Disclosure.
CAT TREES AND TOWERS
For urban cat owners, finding space for a cat tree in a small apartment can be a challenge. There’s also the issue of aesthetics with some less-than-attractive options on the market, but cat trees have a very important role to play in a cat’s life.
Cat trees encourage many major functions which are invaluable to a cat’s wellbeing — the climbing poles double up as scratching posts, allowing the cat not only to take care of their claws and exercise the surrounding muscles but also to leave their scent. The climbing also enables a cat to get exercise and is the closest thing to climbing a real tree (a natural everyday action for an outdoor cat).
Importantly, the raised level of the tree enables the cat to feel secure in a high place away from people and dogs looking down on its territory. Not all cats will choose to be up high, but if you have one that clearly does love vertical spaces, then get creative – your cat will love you for it.
STYLETAILS’ FAVOURITE CAT TREES
Vespa V-High Cat Tree
This stylish free-standing cat tree has it all — multiple scratching posts, an enclosed hideaway where your kitty cat get some beauty sleep, space to perch and lounge up top, plus some dangly toys for hours of batting.
Hand Woven Banana Leaf Cat Tree
Cat trees don’t have to be unsightly, as seen with this striking example. With two pods, two perches, multiple scratching posts and a toy included, there’s plenty of room to keep multiple cats happy.
Kerbl Dolomit Tofana Wall-Mounted Cat Tree
If you are short on space in your home, a wall-mounted cat tree is an excellent option. We like this cat tree as it takes up no floor space at all, while still offering plenty of opportunities for your cat to climb, scratch, perch and play.
Pippa & Max Floor to Ceiling Cat Tree
Give your cat the ultimate indoor climbing experience with a floor-to-ceiling cat tree. The best part is that they take up barely any of your precious floor space. This model is great because it has a soft base which won’t scratch your floor and safely bolts into the ceiling with minimal effort.
CAT SCRATCHING POSTS & FURNITURE
Cats usually keep their claws in good shape by scratching tree trunks or fence posts. As well as ensuring their claws are trim, cats naturally scratch to exercise the muscles in their paws and to leave their scent, so it’s a basic and natural need.
The indoor cat will scratch your furniture and carpets if a scratching post or area is not provided. Most cat trees have numerous scratch posts within their design and there are trees of every shape and size that can fit discretely into any décor.
A large vertical scratch post for an adult cat will also ensure they get to fully stretch. Another great design is the cat scratch lounger which my cats adore. Not only do they get to fully stretch out on the lounger, but it also doubles up as a fantastic piece of stylish furniture they can scratch to their heart’s content.
STYLETAILS’ FAVOURITE CAT SCRATCHERS
Cactus Cat Scratcher
When cats and design collide, the results can be amazing! The clever cats at RiverNCats have turned the humble cat scratcher into a work of art with this incredible cactus cat scratcher. Each one is handmade in Vienna and you can customise the flower colours. Such fans are some people, they claimed they would have bought one even if they didn’t have a cat!
Wall-Mounted Patterned Cat Scratcher
Designed by Kitksa Cat in Melbourne, Australia, we love the playful use of colour and pattern on this scratcher, plus the fact it is wall-mounted means it takes up none of your floor space.
Kafbo Bird Cat Scratcher
Designer cat brand Kafbo has created a range of eco-friendly cat scratching furniture in an array of fun abstract shapes. We love this bird cat scratcher which has room for two cats with space to lounge on top or hide inside.
Cat Scratching Post with Base
When it comes to furniture, sometimes the simplest designs are the best. We love this stylish take on a classic cat scratcher, handmade using plywood, sisal rope and a super sturdy base that can withstand plenty of action, even from larger cats.
CREATE A ROOM WITH A VIEW
An indoor cat loves to look out of the window to watch birds go by and keep an eye on their ‘territory’. This is a great way to stimulate your cat and to relieve long hours of boredom. Window perches can be found online in many varieties.
If you have a property where it’s difficult to make any alterations on the walls (i.e. with screws, nails etc), there are window perches specially designed to combat this problem. These types of window perches use suckers to connect to the actual glass of the window but are still strong enough to hold most cats’ body weight. One of the best I have come across is called The Sunny Seat Cat Window Bed (above).
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TOYS FOR YOUR CAT
If your cat sleeps all the time, you will need to provide some stimulation. You may think that your cat doesn’t need to play or doesn’t like playing but you will be surprised once you have found the right toy to suit your cat’s personality.
Playtime is imperative to relieve boredom and frustration — it can also improve the human-to-cat bond. Once you have found the correct toys for your cat, they should be rotated to keep the cat interested. Leave out some fun little toys for your cat to enjoy on its own such as ping-pong balls, open paper bags, cardboard boxes or furry catnip mice.
Most people get the wrong kind of toys, and then wonder why their cat is disinterested. Below are some ideas for the best kind of toys to try out on your cat.
Cats are natural hunters and their natural instinct is to kill things, so any toys that stimulate this type of behaviour are highly stimulating for the indoor cat. Toy mice, bugs, spiders or feathers on a wire or string make excellent toys. Play with them by half hiding them under a newspaper, rugs or boxes and watch as your cat enjoys the hunting process. Reward them with a treat afterwards, or a little piece of meat (their ‘catch’). Another great hunting toy is the Tiger Teaser, recommended by US cat behaviourist Jackson Galaxy. My cats love them.
STYLETAILS’ FAVOURITE CAT TOYS
Interactive Cat Puzzle Toy
Puzzle games are incredibly good for your cat’s brain and body. Just pop a ball, a treat, or your cat’s favourite toy inside, and watch as they twist and turn and problem-solve to get it out. We love this version from Pets Helper Co as it’s handmade from plywood and can be personalised with your cat’s name – what a great gift idea!
Natural Cat Toy Set
They say variety is the spice of life and that’s certainly the case with this beautiful set of cat toys. Where possible, we also like to buy natural, which is why we love these seven cat toys from the Natural Pet Company, made from sisal, wood, elastic and feathers.
Assorted Rod & Teaser Cat Toys
Your frisky feline will never be bored with this mixed set of teaser toys which includes feathers, dragonflies and fish lures.
Pixnor Cat Laser Toy
If you haven’t seen a cat go wild for a laser pointer, you are missing out on one of life’s great pleasures! We like this version from Pixnor because it has three adjustable speeds to suit all types of cats (even lazy ones!) plus it has a fancy-looking crystal design on the top. What’s not to love!?
SEND THEM WILD WITH CATNIP
I’m constantly surprised at how many owners never supply catnip for their cats. Catnip is a fun treat, which harmlessly ‘intoxicates’ your cat for between five and 15 mins, and is completely safe.
The main constituent of catnip is nepetalactone, which is an oil contained in the leaves. It is believed cats react to the nepetalactone because it resembles a chemical in tomcat urine. This is a much-needed experience for an indoor cat and is a wonderful way to get overweight cats to kick up their heels a little!
STYLETAILS’ FAVOURITE CATNIP TOYS
Doughnut Catnip Toys
What feline wouldn’t like to have a bit of sweet fun with these catnip-stuffed doughnut toys? Each one is made from eco-friendly felt and filled with certified organic catnip.
Catnip Kicker Toys
These ‘scratch jingle and roll’ cat kicker toys are filled with catnip and valerian root to send your kitty wild. Each one is handmade using all-natural eco-friendly materials.
Why not get your paws on some loose catnip? You can put it in your cat’s favourite toys, sprinkle it around their play area, it can be safely chewed and ingested or, use it on new furniture to encourage your cat to accept it.
Cat Toy Gift Set
We love this gorgeous gift box of cat toys, including a catnip cuddle whale for all your cat’s play-time needs. Inside you will also find a feather fascinator and an eco crocheted ball made from virgin wool. The perfect gift for your own kitty or someone else’s.
GROW SOME CAT GRASS
Cat grass is essential and your cats will love having the opportunity to eat it as a normal outdoor cat would. They also love to rub against grass too. It’s easy to grow and you can buy special grass cubes for cats from any pet or internet stores.
If you would like to bring more of the outside inside for your cat, check out how to create a lush indoor cat garden your cat will love.
STYLETAILS’ FAVOURITE CAT GRASS
Organic Cat Grass Kit
With these 2 kits, you will have everything you need to grow your own cat grass at home. The Purr Paw Cat Grass contains 100% organic wheatgrass seeds, as well as 100% organic-rich compost that have both been sourced from the UK.
Catit Senses Cat Grass Planter
Give your cat grass a helping hand with this the Catit 2.0 Grass planter, which has been built with a stable design and is easy to clean.
How do you keep your indoor cat stimulated? Tell us in the comments below!