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How to Keep Your Cat Mentally Stimulated for Physical Health: 8 Vet-Reviewed Tips

Written by: Rachel Giordano

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

clever siamese cat playing with puzzle toy to get treat

How to Keep Your Cat Mentally Stimulated for Physical Health: 8 Vet-Reviewed Tips


Dr. Maja Platisa Photo


Dr. Maja Platisa

DVM MRCVS (Veterinarian)

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

Learn more »

Every responsible pet owner knows that keeping our pets both mentally and physically stimulated is extremely important for their overall health. Dogs are typically easier to keep stimulated because most are up for any type of activity. But what about cats? How do you keep your cat mentally stimulated for physical health? Cats love to lounge around and sleep most of the time; they sleep up to 12 to 16 hours per day, after all. However, there are ways to keep your cat physically healthy, regardless of how much your cat sleeps.

This guide will list the eight tips for keeping your cat mentally stimulated for physical health so that your cat can live their best life. Read on to learn more!

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Top 8 Tips to Keep Your Cat Mentally Stimulated for Physical Health

1. Provide a Cat Tree

Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

Cats love to climb, scratch, bat at objects, and be somewhere up high, all of which a cat tree provides. Some even come with a hammock for your cat to take a snooze on after playing. Cat trees are an essential item to have when you own a cat, and they offer both mental and physical stimulation, which equates to a happy, healthy cat.

When choosing a cat tree, it’s best to consider your cat’s age and activity levels. A younger cat will do well with a taller tree versus a senior cat, who may not be able to climb the tree as well as a younger feline can.

2. Provide Toys, Games, and Puzzles

Toys, games, and puzzles are also a must-have for your arsenal of cat supplies. Puzzles for cats come in different varieties, such as treat dispensing, brainteasers, interactive, and even tunnels. Cat teasers and wands give you a chance to interact with your cat, which creates an excellent opportunity for some bonding time. Plush mouse toys are also excellent playthings for your cat, as are crinkle balls and toys filled with catnip.

3. Leash Train Your Cat

cat with harness and leash in the park
Image Credit: Laura Sanchez Ubanell, Shutterstock

When you think of leash training your pet, dogs are typically the most thought of, but cats can also be leash trained. Teaching your cat to walk on a leash is another excellent opportunity to bond with your cat, and it gives your cat a chance to roam safely outdoors without the risk of becoming injured, lost, or worse. Taking a walk with your cat will stimulate your feline and give them a chance to release extra energy, take in some sunshine, and feel the grass underneath their paws—not to mention, it will provide exercise in a safe, controlled environment.

If your cat is climbing the walls, they might need more exercise. With the help of a good harness and leash like Hepper's Cat Harness & Leash Set, you can take your cat for engaging walks around the neighborhood.

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4. Hang Shelving

In the wild, cats will climb trees to protect themselves from predators, and domesticated felines still engage in this activity, an instinct carried over from their ancestors. Being up high makes a cat feel safe and secure, and it gives your cat a place to retreat for peaceful snoozing. You can hang shelving on your walls for your cat to enjoy. Climbing up to the shelving will provide your cat exercise, and it will satisfy their mental intellect as well.

5. Purchase a Laser Pointer

cat staring on laser pointer
Photo Credit: Laurav1984, Shutterstock

Many cats love to chase laser pointers, and it provides them with both mental and physical stimulation. Laser pointers can help fulfill your cat’s hunting instincts, but it’s important that you use the laser pointer safely. For instance, avoid using it in a way that can cause injury to your cat, and never shine the laser directly into your cat’s eyes. Also, avoid shining the laser at a high point that may cause your cat to injure themself.

Do not overdo it with the laser, as cats will get frustrated due to not being able to “catch” the laser dot. Not all cats love the laser, and that’s ok. If your cat shows no interest, try a remote-controlled mouse toy. That’ll surely get your cat’s instincts going!

6. Buy a Window Perch

Indoor cats love to watch the world outside, and providing a window perch will allow your cat to watch birds, squirrels, and other wildlife in the safety of the home. Window perches also help relieve stress and anxiety for cats, providing a safe and secure place to hang out. And after watching all the action, your cat can take a snooze.

Window perches are an excellent way to provide your cat with mental and physical stimulation while you’re away at work; however, for your cat’s safety, ensure blind chords are out of reach from your cat to avoid possible injury.

7. Build a “Catio”

black and white cat playing inside the catio
Image Credit: SariMe, Shutterstock

A catio, or cat patio, offers your cat a safe place to explore the outdoors. Your cat can roam free without the risk of being attacked by another animal. It also provides stimulation for your cat, including sights, sounds, and smells. Catios provide much enrichment, and you can provide one whether you have a home, apartment, or even an apartment in a high-rise building.

You can buy a catio, or if you’re a DIYer, you can build one at a low cost. If you choose to build your own catio, ensure it is escape-proof and safe for your cat.

8. Keep Your Paper Bags and Cardboard Boxes

Cats love to explore the inside of a paper bag and cardboard, and it provides a free and easy way to stimulate your cat. They love the crinkling sound of the paper, and odds are, your cat will spend hours batting and pawing the object. The crinkling sound also sparks a cat’s hunting instincts, as it may remind them of catching prey over crunchy leaves in the wild. However, ensure your cat has an exit from the paper bag and disregard it if your cat tries to ingest it. They may also find cardboard as the best place for a nap.

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Providing your cat with mental and physical stimulation is essential and can help keep cat obesity at bay. As we’ve mentioned, cats sleep from 12 to 16 hours each day, but to be healthy, they require daily exercise.

As far as how much exercise, every cat is different, and it’s best to learn your cat’s preferences so you don’t overexert your cat or stress your cat out. Four, 10-minute interactive sessions with you are a good starting point, and your cat can decide how much activity they can handle with other enrichment activities, such as climbing the cat tree or playing with a toy on their own.

Featured Image Credit: Agata Kowalczyk, Shutterstock

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