Make your cat’s day with loads of fun and play!
Given that your cats will not be living outside with all its natural stimulation and distractions, he will need some fun cat games manufactured by you, indoors. There are multiple studies that show that indoor cats need stimulation in order to stay healthy and avoid illness. Ohio State Veterinary College published a review of the literature indicating that indoor cats without enough stimulation are more likely to contract idiopathic cystitis (IC) due to neuroendocrine abnormalities. It appeared that these cats were less able to adapt in ways that other healthy, outdoor cats could. OSU researchers recommended environmental enrichment as a way to prevent health issues with indoor cats.
Sights and Sounds of Outside
Ideally, you can provide your indoor cats with a room of their own with enough space to feel they have an indoor range. They need their food, water and bed in this room. If possible, put the litter box in another room or maybe in the closet of their room. They need a scratching post and toys and windows.
A 1998 study by Bernstein & Strack had indoor cats staying in range of 3 to 3 1/2 rooms for female cats and 4 to 5 rooms for neutered male cats. The cats’ behavior was observed and it was almost identical to that of outdoor cats. Because of the space they had available in the house, there were not the health or behavioral problems seen in other indoor cats.
Develop an outside environment on the inside for your indoor cat. You can do this in several ways. The first is a screened porch or enclosure that allows for the sights, sounds and, most importantly, the smells of the outside. If you already have a screened porch at your house, that’s perfect. If not, you can either add one (expensive and subject to code) or purchase a stand-alone enclosure for the back yard.
If you can manage either of these options, add a few extras to the enclosure. Make sure there are scratching posts and large trees or shelving units where the cats can sit and watch the life going on outside. Put a birdfeeder outside close to the enclosure to create even more stimulation.
If you cannot manage an outside enclosure of any kind, then simply build a few window shelves so the cats can still see and hear the birds and insects outside. Even in this scenario, you can put a bird feeder right outside the window. These options give your indoor cats the pleasure of outside stimulation while sitting comfortably inside. Cats also like to lie in the sun and this would also give them an outlet for that.
Build your cat an indoor tree house from aromatic woods such as pine. Use real twigs and branches both inside the tree house and on the outside of it. In addition to catnip, find some greens and plants that are non-toxic to cats and put them inside the tree house. Make it a true tree house, having it extend from your floor to the ceiling.
Have a variety of levels where your cat can climb up. Include hiding holes where she can get away from everyone else.
Kitty Videos: Give your indoor cats a real taste of the outdoors without having to let the outdoors into your house. These nature videos are great for cold and winter months. There are plenty of videos available for cats to watch. Put a large screen TV in the cat room and put the video in and walk away. Soon your cats will be watching the television.
The first video ever made for cats was from PetAVision and called Video Catnip. This video features squirrels, chipmunks and birds. The soundtrack is all-natural. You can purchase a DVD. This original video is 25 minutes but the DVD is over two hours with continuous play in case you are not home.
Toys, Toys, and more Toys: Toys can be a major source of entertainment for indoor cats, especially if they can play with them all on their own. Take some time to determine what type of toys your cats really like. Don’t just go purchase the entire cat toy section in a pet store. Bring home a bird that chirps, a mouse, another one that moves, a squeaky toy, and maybe a laser light.
Try these out with your cats and see what they prefer to play with. Try the fishing rods and the round chasing light games. Some toys will require that you to manipulate them, but right now you want to find ones that can stimulate your cats when you are not home.
Catnip: Some cats like catnip and a few do not. If your cat likes it, you are in luck. You can put it on their toys, their bed, etc. You can also get some fresh catnip, which is a real treat.
Scratching posts and furniture are critical aspects for cat stimulation. If they are the only thing you do, make sure there is something for your cat to scratch his claws on, and make sure he has high spaces he can get to even if it is only on the top of a dresser.
Water is something all cats need, but when trying to entertain your cats, think more about moving water. There are plenty of fountains and moving water dispensers made for cats. Many cats love playing with water, contrary to popular belief.
Never the same twice: When a cat lives outside, there is so much stimulation that things are never the same twice. Your indoor cat needs the same kind of stimulation. One of the easiest ways to do this is to vary the toys, the plants, the flowers that you have in the cat’s environment or room. Find new games to play, like hiding catnip-scented toys around the house. Hide treats around the house. Keep half of the toys in a bin and cycle them out to keep your cats interested.
You and Chasing Cats: You might be the best possible stimulation for your cats. You can play chasing games, you can play with the fishing poles toys, and the laser pen on the wall, or any game you can think of.
Just remember that it is healthier in the United States to keep your cat indoors. Yet studies have shown that cats can get ill from a lack of mental and physical stimulation. So play with your cats. Use some of the ideas mentioned here and have a healthy happy cat! Make your cat’s day and future. You’ll both love it.