How to Help Your Indoor Cat Stay Happy

When I first took my little love of a cat home he was a confident bundle of fluffy joy, and I was a poor student living with my parents in their ample house and secure yard. Jude eventually got to explore the garden (usually snuck out and supervised by my Dad because I was a little too nervous about it) and he immediately loved watching the birds and smelling the leaves. Now that I am more self sufficient I live in a small one bedroom unit and Jude had to adjust.

Here are some tips that I have used to help keep my indoor cat happy.

Feliway is a synthetic version of the pheromone cats deposit when they rub their cheek on you or on furniture. It comes in a diffuser or a spray. While Jude was adjusting to his new environment I had one diffuser in my living space and another in my bedroom. This helped him feel more comfortable in his new surroundings and eased him into his transition to indoor life.

The spray can be used on furniture to help prevent scratching up couches and table legs. It is also great to use in carriers for visits to the vet.

At AdelaideVet we also use it in our consult rooms and boarding areas to help ease any stress.

Appropriate Scratching Opportunities
Scratching is a natural and normal behaviour. It is important to provide for this natural behaviour in an appropriate way. There are many variations of scratching cardboard mats available at pet stores or warehouse stores.

Jude has a few that have lasted years. One of his favourite spots to nap, rub and scratch is on a little set of cardboard stairs I spent $15 on three years ago.

Bring the Outdoors Indoors
Allow comfortable access to windows and viewing spots of the outside world. This gives the opportunity for sun bathing and bird watching. Having a bird feeder in a visible tree can be like cat television and provide hours of fascination.

My kitty loves to eat grass and I think it really helps with environmental enrichment for him. Now I don’t want to brag, but I seem to have a bit of a knack for growing some luxurious cat grass. I buy a small pot of cat specific grass from the nursery for about $5. Then I re-plant it in a larger pot with some fresh soil and make sure it is kept in a window that receives plenty of sunlight.

If you often forget to water it, you can keep the pot in a bowl filled with water and it will flourish with very little attention.  

Hiding places
Having small, dark, cosy places in which to hide and feel safe are very important to a cat’s feeling of security. I have various hiding places set out for those times something scary happens, like loud visitors or the vacuum monster. There are some great cost effective cat igloos available from places like Kmart or your local $2 shop, but the cheapest and most successful hiding place I have had is a simple cardboard box with a fluffy blanket tucked inside.

Play Time
Not every cat is a playful one but for those that are it is important to give opportunities to express their hunting instincts through play. This is also a great chance to spend quality time with your feline house mate, increasing your bond, and showing them how much you care for them.
There are a huge number of cat toys on the market but some of the most fun can be a simple piece of string, some scrunched up paper, a ping pong ball or a drink straw. Laser pointers can be very fun, but it is best to use them to direct to a toy or a treat in order to reward the activity.

If your kitty is food motivated and prone to overeating, feeding toys can be a great option. There are also a number of these available out there but one can be made at home from a simple cardboard toilet roll holder. Fold one end in then, cut some biscuit sized holes in the roll, fill with enough biscuits for it to rattle around then fold in the other side. Some cats respond really well to these.

These are just a few options for helping to keep your indoor cat happy. If you find it difficult to transition your furry friend to an indoor life or have any questions regarding environmental enrichment, please feel free to chat to one of our team members at AdelaideVet. We are more than happy to help with any advice needed.


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