Keeping your cats indoors will protect them from infectious diseases and trauma from other cats and motor vehicles, but sometimes can lead to boredom and stress due to a lack of stimulation and inability to express natural predatory behavior.
The end result of this can include obesity, predatory behavior toward people, over-grooming, litterbox problems, or a painful bladder condition often referred to as Feline Interstitial Cystitis or idiopathic Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. Luckily these conditions are preventable or can be managed once they occur by making some simple changes in the house and in your cats’ daily routine. Here are some tips for how to make your indoor cat a happy cat:
Room with a view – Giving cats a view to the outside world provides stimulation. You can provide access to a windowsill, a couch placed next to the window or a commercial perch that can be purchased from pet stores and attached to a windowsill to provide more room for your cat.
Scratching post – Scratching is a normal part of a cat’s behavior. Because they are leaving a scent when they do this, it is ideal to keep the scratching posts in an area they would want to mark as their own, such as a public location or near a door. Some cats are particular about scratching on horizontal or vertical surfaces so it is important to give your cats both options until you determine their individual preference. Make sure the post is stable; if it tips when a cat leans on it, they won’t want to use it. Scratching posts are incorporated into cat condos and often are made of sisal rope, carpet, or cardboard.
Toys – Cats prefer a variety of toys and the more engaging the better. The simplest toys include a balled-up piece of paper and bird feathers. Cats also like toys that squeak, bounce, and roll (ping pong balls are great) or move on their own. Many cats also love to chase the dot from a laser pointer. Just make sure that the toys do not have strings that they can pull off and eat. Periodically rotating the toys you leave out will add variety and keep them from getting bored.
Feliway – This product is a man-made version of a pheromone produced by glands on a cat’s face that are deposited when they rub against objects (such as your leg). These pheromones mark their territory and let cats know that they are “home.” Feliway can be sprayed in carriers, on towels, or can be purchased as a plug-in diffuser which will provide continuous levels of the pheromone for a small room.
If you want to provide some fresh air for your kitty, you can put a harness on them and walk them on a leash.
For more information and tips, please check the website for the Indoor Pet Initiative.