How many times have you sat around with nothing to do and exclaimed, “I’m bored!” Now think of your cat at home for hours at a time with nothing to do while you’re at work. Indoor cats with little or no stimulation will probably just focus on eating and sleeping or even causing mischief.Granted, cats do spend a lot of time sleeping, but if left on their own outside, cats will also spend time stalking and hunting prey, playing, and socializing with other cats.
Here are some suggestions to keep your pet engaged and entertained for a healthier, happier life.
If you get a kitten, be sure to socialize him/her as soon as you can. Have people visit you and your kitten to get used to being around different people. Even if you adopt an adult cat, you should make sure to socialize him/her. While you’re out of the house, you can get a friend or neighbor to visit and play with your cat. You can also hire a cat sitter to visit and play with your cat.
There are plenty of cat toys out there for you to check out. There are fuzzy ones, feathery ones, ones with bells, ones with catnip inside them, ones attached to strings and poles, and battery-powered ones that move on their own. You can find them at grocery stores and pet stores. When you can, engage your cat with a toy. Get them to stalk and pounce, chase and capture. There are special toys you can fill with catnip or food to really get your cat interested.
Sometimes, you won’t even need to buy a special cat toy. A balled up piece of aluminum foil, a ping pong ball, or a length of yarn can be just as entertaining to your cat. Also, consider leaving a paper bag or cardboard box on the floor. Cats love to explore new things and love to go inside small spaces.
Cats love to go up high. We’ve all probably heard of stories about cats getting stuck in trees. It’s in their nature to climb and perch on something far off the ground. You can buy pre-made cat “condos,” which are built in different sizes and covered in carpet. If you’re ambitious, you can build one yourself. One of my clients has a great climbing pole made out of the thick cardboard center from a roll of carpet. He covered it with extra carpet from that roll and voila! Super cat climber contraption! His cats love to climb on it and also scratch the heck out of it.
In addition to the pole, my client built several perches around the house so the cats could jump from one to the next, peer out of windows, and sit and sleep on them. One of his cats’ favorite perches is in front of a window at the second-story level.
SOMETHING TO SCRATCH – OTHER THAN YOUR COUCH
One of the ways cats mark their territory is by scratching. They also scratch to shed the outer layer of their nails and to sharpen them. One of the things to remember when buying or building a scratching post is that cats like to scratch tall things. The same client who built all the perches also built a very tall scratching post.
He bought a piece of two-by-four at a home improvement store, wrapped a long length of rope around it all the way up to about six feet. The cats love it, especially because when they stand up on their hind legs and stretch their front legs up onto the pole, they cat stretch as far as they want and will still have plenty of pole to scratch.
You can leave a television on for the sights and sounds it provides your cat. There are even cat entertainment DVDs out there for purchase. They feature other creatures such as bugs, fish, mice, and birds for the cat to watch.
If you’re up for the challenge and responsibility of owning a few more pets, consider an aquarium with fish. I know a pet owner who had a fish tank with several fish and her cat loved to watch them swim around. Of course, you have to make sure the tank is secure so that the cat can’t get a paw into the water and scoop up a fish! (Again, this suggestion is only for those who can take on the effort and expense of maintaining the fish and the tank. It’s not a toy for the cat, but another set of pets and the resulting hard work.)
A CAT BUDDY
A lone cat might like to have a companion, so consider bringing another cat into the picture. Of course, there are no guarantees that the cats will become friends and playmates, but it’s something to consider.