Veterinarian - San Diego
1540 Morena Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92110

619-275-0888

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By Heather Beeson of Morena Pet Hospital
May 18, 2012
Category: Pet Care
Tags: Untagged

 

We’ve all heard the statistics…Cats that are kept exclusively indoors live on average at least two times as long as outdoor cats.  Cats are kept indoors for a number of reasons, mostly for health and safety reasons.  Being indoors minimizes their exposure to outdoor dangers (Take caution with your friendly felines, especially if living near a canyon or busy intersection--coyotes and cars can put your cat at risk).  Of course there are also the dreaded toxins and infections. 

Although the indoor environment may be safer, it may not be as interesting to a curious feline.  So how are you supposed to keep your sanity when the meow, meow, meow is not getting his/her way?  If your indoor cat becomes overweight, destructive, or aggressive, it could be due to boredom and lack of stimulation.  The following is a list of ideas to help transform (a.k.a. “catify”) your ordinary house into a cat’s entertainment arena:

  1. Find toys that mimic your cat’s play.  Making sure there is no shortage of cat toys in your home will help to enrich your cat’s environment.  Since cats tend to have different preferences when it comes to toys, you will have to pay close attention to what really motivates your cat to play.  Unfortunately, this comes as an expense to owners.  There has been many an occasion of getting the Christmas “dud” toy.  But one cat’s trash is another cat’s treasure.  Consider donating your unwanted cat toys or giving them to a friend.

Our top picks: dragonfly motion wand by Cat Quest, foraging box toy, feather wands, ping pong balls, laser pointers, and cat-nip infused toys.  There are also the more subtle toys such as a ball of yarn, shoelaces, milk caps, paper bags, boxes, and if you are a veterinary technician consider the plastic caps of syringe casings…sometimes the simpler items turn out to be the best and ones your cat will go bonkers over!

  1. Consider leaving food, treats, and toys around the house as a means of stimulating your cat’s hunting and stalking instincts.
  1. Water fountains are a good way to provide entertainment, while simultaneously coaxing your cat to stay hydrated.  Some cats become fixated on the streams of water and cannot resist the temptation to bat at the fountain!

The most popular types of pet fountains are made from ceramic or stainless steel.  The reasoning for this popularity is not only that these fountains tend to look better, but also the fact that ceramic and stainless steel are a healthier option for your pet!  They are not as susceptible to scratches like plastic is, so it lacks those tiny hiding places that you cannot clean and in which bacteria tends to thrive.  It is important (with any option) to clean the fountain frequently and change out the filters as needed.  Using bottled water may also help to keep the fountain cleaner as hard water will leave lines and water marks on it after a while (This is true with normal cat water bowls also).

  1. Bring the outdoors inside.  Consider getting a “live” Christmas tree to let your cats explore.  However, beware when walking by--those little paws are good at pouncing!  Also ensure that the garland, lights, and ornaments are high enough out of kitty's reach.  A year-round option would be to grow a patch of cat grass.  For indoor only cats especially, it is helpful to offer "kitty grass" regularly.  Simply rinse it off first, allow your cat to nibble it, and replace it when necessary. This may help prevent your kitty from chewing on inappropriate plants and household items, contains folic acid, and is a good source of fiber, helping with hairballs and digestion.

  1. Environmentally stimulating television programming or DVDs offer another option.  These programs (targeted specifically for cats) feature close-ups of small prey (birds, rodents, reptiles, and fish) and are sound intensive.  Or another option is to play a CD of music that incorporates nature sounds.

Our top picks: Catsitter DVD, The Purrfect DVD, and Animal Planet

  1. If you are a cat owner, then you know that scratching posts and cat furniture are a must!  Make sure it is tall enough for him/her to really stretch out.  Keep it in an area where your cat likes to spend time and consider having multiple posts for multiple cats.  In our cat room at Morena Pet Hospital, we choose to have a cat scratcher that conveniently fastens against a door and also have a lower cat bed option for our curious kitties' day at the vet (pictured below).

  1. Plenty of cat beds to provide a “safe” refuge.  All cats need a place to get away from it all, especially if in a busy household with dogs or multiple cats. 
  1. Carpeted wall climbs provide a great way to enrich your cat’s environment.  You can pattern them to act as a series of stepping stones, allowing your cat to get to greater heights, or you can offer the perfect comfy place to perch and survey one's domain.

  1. Screened-in porches and decks provide the perfect opportunity for indoor cats to safely experience the outdoors.  Supervised walks outdoors with a harness or cat-stroller can also provide an indoor kitty with a relatively safe outdoor experience. 

  1. Above all, it is love, attention, and active playtime that are the most essential aspects to an indoor cat’s happiness!  Take time to let your kitty know you care.  It is important that cats receive at least 15 minutes of playtime each day as well as quality bonding time.

Kittens tend to require even more time and attention.  Indoor only kittens may do better with another kitten or an adult cat as a mentor.

Have additional ideas or recommendations to keep indoor cats occupied?  Please share them with us by commenting below!

 

Comments:

Her Majesty
By Linda McDonald
May 18, 2012
Great info you guys! Whoever put this together really knows what he is doing! ;)