Easy Ways To Keep Your Cat Happy and Occupied

 
Comic Credit:  Liz Climo

Comic Credit: Liz Climo

It’s not curiosity that might kill your cat. It’s boredom.

Mental health is not just important for you and me. Our pets also need to be mentally stimulated especially since they are kept indoors or behind fences most of the time.

Pets do tend to act out if they are bored (much like kids and teenagers). Lack of mental stimulation can be stressful for your cat and puts your cat’s well-being at risk, not to mention your furniture and nice stuff at home. You’ll also have to deal with behavioural issues that make it harder for you to enjoy your furry companion. Undesirable behaviour include excessive vocalisation, chewing, chronic licking/grooming (which gives them hairballs), being overprotective with food etc.

Plants make good natural hiding spots for cats. Just make sure they are not poisonous.

Plants make good natural hiding spots for cats. Just make sure they are not poisonous.

So yes, in short: Happy cat means happy cat owner.

To keep your kitty engaged, use some of the tips and tricks here that will expend their energy and bring you home to a happier cat. These approaches are divided into three simple categories:

  1. Physical Enrichment

  2. Sensory Stimulation

  3. Social Interaction

Here we go:

1) Physical Enrichment

Fulfils your cat’s need to play, hide and explore.

Make sure your apartment has different nooks and crannies to allow your cat ample chances to exercise indoors. The idea is to give your cat a space that lets them expend their energies like their wild counterparts, who spend their time hiding, stalking and chasing prey.

You can provide:

Scratch poles helps file down nails and lets your cat mark her territory.

Scratch poles helps file down nails and lets your cat mark her territory.

  • Elevated spots for your cat to climb up and perch on. Provide multiple steps so they can navigate elevated spots safely without the need to jump off from great height. Cat aerobic centres/gyms will work too.

  • Hiding places such as paper bags, tunnels, cardboard boxes, cat carriers or leafy plants will work. For plants, make sure they are safe and non-poisonous to cats.

  • Scratch poles for healthy nails and to ease boredom. Provide different spots and a variety of scratchers e.g. on the wall, so your cat won’t feel the need to scratch other things in the house. It is best to get scratch poles which are tall enough for your cat to stretch up to their full height.

2) Sensory Stimulation

Fulfils your cat’s need for variety and opportunities for self-entertainment

You can provide:

Windows are TVs for cats. Just more real life than reel life.

Windows are TVs for cats. Just more real life than reel life.

  • Different types of toys e.g. squeak toys, interactive toys that move, toys with different textures and sizes etc. There are countless options available in stores.

  • Window seats for your cat to hang out and watch the comings and goings outside. You can buy a cat perch for her to hang out if your window ledge is not wide enough. Make sure your windows are locked so your cat can’t fall out.

  • Mealtime stimulation using store-bought or DIY puzzle feeders. The idea is to make it challenging for your cat to access treats or dry food, incentivising them to keep trying. You can also buy treats and food with different textures and flavours to add to the variety.

Some cheap DIY puzzle feeders which also recycle regular items around the house include:

Cat toys don't have to be expensive. Just DIY them.

Cat toys don't have to be expensive. Just DIY them.

  • Hide catnip into paper bags or used toilet rolls/tissue boxes.

  • Make a sock toy by putting some crinkly paper and a bit of catnip into the sock and tie a dead knot to seal it.

  • Cut small holes in toilet rolls/water bottles and seal both ends. This allows your cat to pounce and push to get the treats to fall out.

  • Create a small ball pit with dry treats hidden in them, so your cat can dive in and look for them

3) Social Interaction

Cats generally enjoy getting pets on the head, cheeks or chin area

Cats generally enjoy getting pets on the head, cheeks or chin area

Fulfils your cat’s need for bonding and has the additional benefit of normalising handling. This lets your cat get used to being handled by you, your family members or the vet.

Start early. Train your cat to get used to a harness and walking on a leash.

Start early. Train your cat to get used to a harness and walking on a leash.

You can:

  • Make time for scheduled play with your cat. It really aids in bonding and gives you insights to your cat’s character and behaviour.

  • Do regular grooming sessions by brushing or petting your cats. This includes teeth brushing which is necessary for good dental health and also lets your cat get used to your hands touching her jaws. This will be useful when she is ill and you need to feed her pills.

    Make sure you watch your cat’s body language. It is better to take it slow and steady till you reach a comfortable level of mutual understanding with your cat.

  • Teach your cat some tricks e.g. high fives, or use the clicker to train her to roll over or respond to you. Yes, cats can be trained!

  • Train your cat to get used to being leashed so you can take him out for a walk! This way, it expands his horizon and also allows him to socialise outdoors and get some sun!

Get started today and keep your indoor cat happily occupied. It will benefit you tremendously as well.

Do note that behavioural changes in cats can also be attributed to many other causes aside from boredom. So feel free to book a consult with our experienced vets at Gaia, if you notice any changes in your cat’s behaviour.