Tips To Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy

Last Updated 25 JULY 2021

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Belinda Stancombe

The indoor lifestyle has many benefits for cats. It can keep them away from cars, predators, fighting, parasites, and disease. It also keeps their sneaky little paws away from your neighborhood wildlife.

However, despite all these benefits, an indoor lifestyle can lead to boredom or frustration if enrichment is not provided. And boredom can lead to issues such as house soiling or spraying, overgrooming, reduced appetite, disinterest in interaction, and aggression.

Thankfully there are many ways to enrich your cat's indoor life.

Food Enrichment

Create a 'Smell Smorgasbord'

Simulate hunting and play

Provide Levels and Hidey Holes

Choose the Right Litter

Food Enrichment

Explorative Feeding

Food bowl? How boring! Your cat's wild ancestors had to use their wits to hunt and catch food. It is hardly surprising that feeding your cat from the same bowl in the same place often leads to boredom. You can overcome this by encouraging them to work for their food by hiding kibble around the house. Explorative feeding is a great way to keep your cat occupied when they are home alone. (Just be sure to clean up any uneaten food regularly, to ensure proper hygeine!)

Treat-dispensing toys

An interactive feeder such as the Kong Wobbler or Catit Senses Food Maze will keep your cat motivated and engaged at feeding time. These are perfect for food motivated cats, particularly those who could stand to lose a few kilos!

Mix up the textures

Another form of food enrichment is to provide a variety of textures. Try alternating wet and dry food, swapping it up to keep your kitty guessing. You might also like to treat your cat to the occasional crunchy treat, cat grass to satisfy their chewing urges or lickimat for a smooth, longer-lasting treat.

Our top food enrichment products for cats:

Create a 'Smell Smorgasbord'

Stimulating your cat's senses with new or novel scents is a great way to enrich their environment. Outdoor cats naturally encounter new smells on a daily basis. You can replicate this for your indoor cat by keeping catnip around the house, growing some cat grass or using a feliway diffuser or spray.

Simulate Hunting and Play

On average, an outdoor cat spends about three and a half hours every day hunting. To replicate this for your indoor cat there is an easy solution - toys, toys, and more toys!

From Teaser Toys to Interactive Lasers, your choice of toys are virtually endless. For ideas on how to play with your cat, have a look at Games You Can Play With Your Cat.

Keep it interesting

Just like children, cats can become tired of the same toys. Rotate your cat's toys every day or so to prevent them getting bored. And don't forget to refresh catnip toys with new catnip stuffing or catnip spray every week or so.

Create Levels and Hiding Places

Go Vertical

Encourage and nurture your indoor cat's natural instincts to climb up onto high shelves or into cardboard boxes by providing them with extra levels. Cat Furniture is an easy way to achieve this. Cat trees often provide a variety levels as well as bonus scratching surfaces.

Hideaways are a great way to help your cat establish a safe space and can help reduce anxiety. Igloo or pod type beds are a great way to give your feline friend a snuggly little hidey-hole. Window ledges allow a place for your kitty to sit and watch the world go by from the safety of their own home.

Choose the Right Litter

It goes without saying that every indoor-dwelling cat needs a clean toilet of their own where they feel comfortable. Each cat has their own unique preference for litter type, and it may require a little "trial and error" to determine what their favourite is. For instance, cats who have previously enjoyed the 'outdoor' life may prefer a natural dirt-like substance such as Catlux Softwood or Catsan Ultra Clay.

Cats are very clean creatures and can quickly become stressed if their toilet is not spit-spot. If you are sometimes guilty of letting your cat's litter become 'a day or two' overdue, a clumping litter such as Rufus and Coco Wee Kitty may be the perfect solution for you. Clumping litter only requires a 'full tray clean-out' every 1-2 weeks. The clumping technology allows you to remove all soiled parts, leaving only clean litter behind - shrinking your daily litter clean from 10 minutes to 10 seconds. Your kitty will thank you for it!

Alternatively, you could go all out and purchase a self-cleaning litter tray, which does all of the hard work for you! The ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Tray cleans itself straight after use, so your kitty never has to wait for their 'human servant' to clean it again!

If you are sharing close living quarters with your cat, odour control is extra important for both you and puss. A hooded litter box teamed with an absorbable and odour-hiding litter such as Scrunch and Sticks Recycled Paper may be just what you need.

Keeping your cat inside is a great way to keep them safe from injury and illness, but it is important to make sure their needs to display normal cat behaviours are met. By providing environmental enrichment you can keep your indoor cat happy, healthy and content.

Further Reading

Want to read more? Check out our other articles:

New Kitten Checklist

How To Choose the Perfect Cat Furniture

How To Catify You Apartment

What is the Best Cat Litter?

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