Creating an engaging and stimulating home for your cat is the key to helping her live a happy and healthy life. By adding things to the environment that spark interest and cater to her instincts, you can keep her entertained, especially while you are busy or away. These simple ideas will help you think like a cat, so have fun and do a little experimenting!
One of the most important things you can do to make your cat’s environment more engaging is to create vertical space where she can climb, perch and explore. Start by moving furniture around to make a path that’s easy for kitty to traverse. Take her from the back of the sofa to her favorite cat tree and up to the top of a bookshelf. Add some wall-mounted cat shelves to fill in the gaps if you need to. Giving your cat the ability to climb and perch helps her stay active and alert since she can view her environment from a different perspective and get some exercise, too!
Have a variety of toys for your cat to play with, each representing a different kind of prey. Purchase or make toys that simulate mice, lizards, birds, bugs and other critters that kitty might hunt in the wild. Hide toys in spots where your cat will find them as she goes about her day, including on the vertical path you create. Your cat might also like to pull toys out of a toy box, so gather some up and place them in a bowl or basket that’s easily accessible. Finally, rotate your cat’s toys, putting some away in storage and bringing new toys out regularly. This will make old toys seem new and exciting.
In addition to hunting toys, cats can also hunt their food. Instead of leaving out a whole bowl of food, use puzzle toys and treat dispensers to distribute small snacks around the house. Kitty will come across the hidden prize and feel like she’s found her prey. This simulates how she would hunt for food outdoors but within the safety of your home.
Place water dishes or fountains around the house for kitty to find, much like with the food and treats. Separate the food and water, as cats prefer a water source that is not near food. To bring the outdoors in, add some fun greenery that kitty can munch on, like catnip or cat grass.
Just like with toys, it’s good to have a variety of scratching surfaces in your home so your cat can groom her claws, get a good stretch and leave her scent mark on them. Look for scratchers with different textures, like cardboard, woven sisal, rope and carpet and place them throughout your house, creating a little scratching course. As kitty walks around exploring, she’ll have lots of designated spots to dig her claws into, instead of your furniture.
Engage kitty’s olfactory senses by sprinkling a little dried catnip on a blanket or cat bed. If your cat doesn’t respond to catnip — or to add some variety — try silver vine, valerian root or honeysuckle as an alternative. These can also be used inside toys for an extra kick.
Take advantage of any windows you have by setting up a comfy perch inside on the windowsill or in front of the window and adding a birdfeeder or plants that will attract wildlife outside. This is a great way to keep kitty entertained. Give her lots of toys inside so she can grab them instead of the wildlife that is for viewing only.
If you can add a catio, it’s a great way to give your cat access to fresh air and sunshine while still keeping her safe. A catio can be as elaborate as a whole screened-in porch or as simple as a window box add-on. Either way, this expansion of territory will provide variety in kitty’s environment.
Cats like to have small spaces where they can curl up for a nap or peek out and watch what’s happening around them. There are lots of creative ways to create cozy hideaways for your cat at home. Choose from a variety of stylish, enclosed or semi-enclosed cat beds that you can place anywhere, hang a cat hammock under a chair, make a soft bed inside a lower bookshelf nook, leave your cat’s carrier out and open with a blanket inside, or simply give your cat a paper bag to play in. All of these fun spots will add variety to your cat’s hangout options.
These ideas show that it doesn’t require a big budget or a lot of time to create an environment that will keep kitty active and engaged. All it takes is a little creativity to give your cat a home where she can live her very best life