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How to Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy: 12 Vet-Reviewed Tips

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on May 30, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team


How to Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy: 12 Vet-Reviewed Tips


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you want your cat to live as long as healthfully as possible, keep them inside. Indoor cats not only tend live longer than their outdoor counterparts, but they’re exposed to fewer illnesses, infections, and injuries. They will inevitably require fewer visits to the vet. So, as much as your kitty may try to convince you otherwise, indoors is the safest place for them.

The downfall to living indoors is that some cats may go a little stir-crazy cooped up inside all day, but that’s nothing a little creativity and ingenuity can’t fix. Read on to find our 12 tips for keeping your indoor cat as happy and healthy as possible.

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The 12 Tips on How to Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy

1. Engage Your Cat’s Hunting Instincts

Cats are natural-born hunters. Even if your kitty doesn’t need to stalk and kill their own food, the instinct to hunt is still deeply coded in their DNA. One of the best ways to keep your indoor cat happy is to find creative ways to cater to these instincts.

Try stimulating hunting scenarios at mealtime by hiding small amounts of kibble throughout your home. A treat ball cat toy is another great way to awaken the hunter within as they make your pet work for their food.

Interactive toys are another great way to provide mental stimulation and satisfy your cat’s hunting instincts. The best toys are ones that allow your pet to follow the predatory sequence they would use in the wild—stalking, chasing, catching, and biting. Soft mice and wand toys that move unpredictably are fantastic options.

Fur-covered toys are great options that allow cats to exercise their natural prey-instincts by mimicking small animals. The Hepper Furball Set comes with two 2-inch faux fur toys each featuring a hidden bell inside. The gentle jingling enhances playtime and will keep your cat, no matter their age, engaged and ready for action! Learn more here! 

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2. Invest in a Catio

Cats enjoy being outside, but because it’s not a safe place for them to be, many owners choose to keep them indoors. You can help your kitty bridge the gap between being an indoor and an outdoor cat by providing them with a safe way to spend time outside. Consider buying or building a “catio” (cat patio) or similar enclosure. Catios allow your cat to spend time outdoors, but because they’re fully enclosed, you won’t need to worry about your pet practicing their hunting skills on your backyard birds or getting hurt by predators in your neighborhood.

3. Take Your Cat Outside

If you can’t build or afford a catio right now, you can give your kitty the benefits of spending time outdoors in other ways. The easiest and safest way is to buy a pet stroller and take your cat for walks around your neighborhood. If you have the time and patience, you can also train them to walk on a leash. Leash training your cat can be a painstaking process, and it’s generally less safe than having your cat tag along on walks in a stroller, but some cats really enjoy going for walks.

4. Add Vertical Space

cat playing on the cat tree at home
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Cats love high places as they have an instinctual desire to observe their territory from a safe, high vantage point. Cat trees are an easy way to provide vertical space for your kitty to climb, people-watch, survey their environment, and satisfy their need to scratch. You might also consider wall-mounted shelves, as they’ll provide an even higher place for your kitty to lounge.

5. Provide Scratching Posts

Cats need to scratch, and if you don’t give them somewhere to do so, your pet will take it upon themself to find something to scratch. This normal, instinctual behavior helps your kitty express emotions, mark their territory, and keep their nails in tip-top condition.

Some prefer scratching on horizontal surfaces, while others prefer vertical, so you must buy a scratcher that suits your pet’s scratching style.

6. Make Time to Play

Image Credit: Kmpzzz, Shutterstock

While cats are generally thought of as independent and somewhat aloof, they are still highly social creatures, so you should set aside time daily to play with yours. Try different types of toys to see which your kitty prefers. As previously mentioned, toys that cater to cats’ instinctual need to hunt are a hit with most cats.

Keep things interesting by switching out which toys you play with. Cats can tire of seeing the same toys every day, so having a good stockpile on hand can keep them interested in playtime.

7. Plant Cat Grass

Outdoor cats love to graze on grass for a number of reasons, many of which we don’t understand! Grass may help them purge hairballs, add various nutrients, or increase fiber intake. Plus, some cats may just really enjoy the taste.

If your kitty isn’t spending time outside, he’ll obviously not be exposed to grass. You can bridge this gap by growing your own cat grass indoors. Thankfully, cat grass and catnip are both pretty easy to grow, even for brown thumbs.

8. Training

young woman training cat in the kitchen
Image Credit: DimaBerlin, Shutterstock

Many cat owners are surprised to learn that their pets are just as capable of learning commands and tricks as their canine counterparts. Training is a great way to provide mental and physical stimulation for indoor cats and a fantastic way to bond with them. With the right rewards (hint: yummy treats), you can teach your kitty commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “roll over” and perform tricks like giving kisses or shaking a paw.

9. Set Up a Bird Feeder

Cats consider birds as prey, which isn’t surprising when you consider the potential impact that domestic cats have on wild bird populations. Even indoor cats love watching birds as it awakens the natural hunting instinct in them. Of course, you don’t want to set your cat loose on your backyard bids, so set up a feeder in front of your pet’s favorite window to keep them entertained.

10. Provide Hiding Spots

cat hiding
Image Credit: Mantikorra, Shutterstock

Even the most social and friendly kitty will need a spot to retreat to when they want to spend some time alone. Hiding spots like kitty condos, tunnels, and even cardboard boxes are great places for your pet to hide.

11. Offer a Window Seat

Window perches are great for cats because they’re high and allow them the opportunity to survey their territory from a high vantage point. They also provide entertainment as your pet is afforded a window seat from which they can view the world around them. Put your cat’s window perch near the bird feeder you’ve just set up, and you’ll have a happy kitty.

12. Make Sure Their Needs Are Met

Image Credit: Africa Studio_Shutterstock

Cats are picky animals, and if their environment isn’t set up ‘just right,’ they’re not afraid to find a way to let you know. They can be particular about their litter box, food, and water setups.

A proper litter box setup can go a long way in keeping your kitty happy. You must consider your cat’s needs when setting up their litter box and not just your own preferences. While a covered litter box in the basement works well for you, it might not be your cat’s cup of tea. If your kitty is exhibiting inappropriate litter box habits and all potential medical conditions have been ruled out, it may just be that they don’t like your setup. A large, uncovered litter box with unscented cat litter is generally well-accepted, but preferences will vary from cat to cat.

As for food and water bowls, keep them separate from one another and far away from where your cat does their litter box duties. Pick bowls that won’t cause whisker fatigue, and consider investing in a water fountain to stimulate your pet’s desire to drink.

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Final Thoughts

Cats are pretty easy to keep happy once you know and understand what makes them tick. No one knows your pet quite like you, so while it may take some experimenting to learn exactly what your indoor cat needs from you to stay happy and entertained, our tips above should have you going down the right path.

Featured Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

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