More pet parents are choosing to keep their feline friends indoors. But how can you ensure your cat is getting enough exercise to be happy and healthy? StyleTails explains.
If you are a cat parent who has decided to keep your furry friend indoors, you are not alone. With the threat of traffic accidents, injuries from other animals and even pet theft, more and more cat owners are choosing an indoor life for their feline friends.
You will also no doubt be worried about giving your cat the best possible quality of life they can have inside. Hunting, climbing, running, pouncing and scratching are all natural feline behaviours. Cats that spend time outdoors will engage in these activities naturally, but indoor cats will require some help from their human. Ensuring your home is equipped with all the necessary objects for your cat will help prevent problems which are common to indoor cats like depression and obesity.
Here are 7 great ways to help your indoor cat to get plenty of exercise, keep their mind active, and live a happy, healthy and safe life.
1. CAT TREES & TOWERS
Of all the items to invest in for an indoor cat, none is as important as a cat tree with space to climb. Not only is climbing and jumping a great form of exercise for your cat, but it also provides platforms for your cat to perch and sleep. Most cats like having an elevated position to retreat to — this allows them to survey their ‘territory’ but also to escape from household noise and activity, like children and dogs.
The best cat tree for you will depend on the space you have in your home. The good news is that the vertical design of cat towers means they don’t have to take up too much floor space. If you don’t want to make modifications to your home, you can opt for free-standing cat trees, which come with a heavy base and can be placed anywhere in your home.
For smaller spaces, a floor-to-ceiling cat tree is a fantastic option. These attach to the ceiling and the floor so your cat can explore the full length of the pole. We love this floor to ceiling cat tree from German brand MYMIU because the bottom of the stainless steel pedestal is covered with sponge rubber in order to protect your floors from scratches. There are also options for wall-mounted cat trees which bolt into a wall in your home and are great for smaller apartments as they take up very little room.
2. CAT WALLS & CAT STAIRS
If you are able to make some modifications to your home, a cat wall is a brilliant way to turn a blank space into a vertical cat playground. Cat walls usually combine a series of steps which allow cats to move between resting places like larger platforms. Cat bridges are also a fun way to help your cat get from A to B on the cat wall. You can buy ready-made cat wall furniture kits from places like etsy, or you can have a go at creating your own cat wall using some basic materials and your DIY skills.
3. CAT SCRATCHERS
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.
When it comes to the best cat scratchers, there are a number of options depending on your home and your cat’s preference. Most cat trees will have a built-in cat scratching post wrapped in sisal rope. Alternatively, you can opt for a free-standing piece of scratching furniture like a cardboard cat scratching lounge. Not only does your cat 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.
4. CAT EXERCISE WHEELS
A relatively new concept for indoor cats is the cat exercise wheel. Like a giant version of a hamster wheel for cats, they allow your cat to run and run and run and run! Great for active breeds that are kept indoors, like Bengals, some cat parents swear by cat wheels as a way to keep their feline friends active in both mind and body.
If you are thinking about introducing a cat wheel into your home, there are a couple of things to consider. First, do you have space? They are quite large units so you will need somewhere to put it. Bear in mind that they can make varying degrees of noise when cats are running on them — so you may not want it right next to your bedroom in case your cat decides they want to go off on a midnight ‘hunting’ spree!
We have rounded up 7 of the best cat wheels, and our top pick is the Catwheel II from Catswall. The creme de la creme of catwheels, this is an updated version of their already hugely popular Cat Wheel. It features a newly design wheelbase, which reduces running noise (for those frisky kitties who enjoy a nighttime dash), and increased stability. For those of you with multi-cat households, the Catwheel II has an extra-wide track so it can fit up to three cats, side by side. Unlike a lot of the cheaper wheels, which use only plastic, the Catwheel II uses MDF board for greater durability, plus it comes fully assembled, so you just unpack it and your cats are ready to run!
5. HAVE PLAYTIME EVERYDAY
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.
6. CREATE A CATIO
Thankfully, there is now a solution that presents a compromise between outdoor and indoor – the cat patio or ‘catio’! These outdoor cat enclosures allow your cat to explore the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors while keeping them safe (and local wildlife safe from your cat). Take a look at our guide to creating the perfect catio for your kitty.
7. MAKE MEALTIMES FUN
One common reason for unwanted behaviour issues in indoor cats is boredom. Puzzle feeders can tap into a cat’s natural desire to hunt, as well as provide them outlets for their curious and playful nature. They can also slow a cat down when feeding which is great for overweight and obese cats.
You can have a go at making your own feeding games at home with cardboard tubes sealed either end with holes in the tubes for the kibble to fall out when a cat pushes or rolls the tube along. However, if budget and time are not a problem, many different type feeders can be purchased online to suit kibble (dry food) or wet food (meat – a cat’s natural diet). Take a look at our pick of the 5 best puzzle feeders for cats.
Does your furry family member spend all or most of their time indoors? How do you keep them active and happy? Tell us in the comments below!