Cats are fascinating animals. They are fun, loving and intuitive, but they can also be temperamental and unpredictable.
A bored cat may become destructive and aggressive, and result in excessive grooming or inappropriate litter box use, ie. urinate in other areas of your home.
Caring for a cat is a big responsibility as it’s difficult to keep them healthy in the same manner as dogs, who head outside for walks every day. Many pet parents keep their cats indoors for safety reasons (it helps to reduce death, injury and disease), which can pose other health risks for them if they’re not receiving enough physical and mental stimulation.
Cats need more than just the basic – food, water, litter pan. While your cat may do a great deal of sleeping it`s critical that you provide regular mental stimulation and exercise, which will enhance their living environment and help them live a happy and healthy life.
The onus is on you, and/or other members of your family, to help indoor cats keep their minds alert and sharp. Failure to do so may cause your cat physical and emotional stress which in turn can lead to physical health issues.
Keep your cat active by creating a stimulating environment with these tips below:
- Cats in the wild hunt for their food. Indoor cats often become overweight because they only have to walk to the kitchen to access their bowl of food. Make their mealtime fun with a food treasure hunt. Place bowls of small amounts of food on different levels throughout your home so that your cat has to use their hunting instinct to find them. This also gets them moving.
- If you have a cat perch in your home, keep moving it from window to another to provide them a change of scenery.
- Play Hide `N Seek by strategically placing toys such as fuzzy mice, balls, etc. around your home so your cat can “discover” them all over again. Continue to move toys to unexpected places throughout your home. This helps to keep your cat’s brain active as she walks through the house looking for them.
- Try using a laser mouse so that your cat chases the red dot up and down walls and furniture; this is great exercise for them!
- Your cat will love hunting down mechanical mice which also gets them running across the floor.
- Purchase a toy whereby a crinkle mouse is attached to a string and suspended from wand. Dangle it up and down to get your cat jumping.
- Place one or two cat trees within your home. A large one with different levels will cost anywhere from $100 – $200, but it’s a great way to encourage your cat to climb and jump from level to level. It’s also a great place for them to hang out too. Move the trees periodically to various places throughout your home for an alternative viewing experience for your cat.
- Throwing balls and crinkle toys are also great ways to engage your cats and get them moving throughout your home.
- For some cats, adopting another cat provides the first one with a companion and it’s a great way to fight loneliness, especially when you are away from home for long periods of time. Having a companion to play with creates lots of opportunities for playtime and mental fitness for both cats.
And finally, the greatest stimulation that you can provide your cat is simply spending time with them each and every day. This special time will improve your cat’s quality of life. Research shows that spending 30 minutes of quality time with a cat can calm your nerves and boost your mood. Time spent with a cat can increase your body’s production of serotonin, a chemical that boosts feelings of well-being, and decrease your cortisol levels. Like high pressure, cortisol is caused by stress which may lead to high cholesterol and hypertension. Not only will the quality time spent with your cat keep you healthier, but your cat will benefit greatly from the time spent with you too!