Cats in the wild are both predator and prey species. They rest a lot in hiding spots or elevated places between hunting for multiple mouse-sized meals throughout the day and night. Domestic cats still have these traits; indoor cats need to hunt and have an enriched environment. The good news is you don’t have to let your cat outside to meet these needs.
- Cats like new toys – they are attracted to novelty
- Plan on rotating your kitty’s toys
- 3 toys per cat per day
- They normally play for 1-5 minutes at a time (they are sprinters, not endurance athletes)
- Hide kibble around the house or in containers for the cat to work out like a puzzle
- Egg carton containers and food-dispensing balls are great for this purpose
- Put a string under a piece of tissue paper or towel and pull string out or cut holes in a box and put a ball inside
- Clicker training
- This is a training tool that involves pairing an action that you teach your pet to do (like sitting on command) with the sound of a click, which is followed by a treat
- Your pet learns that the click means that a reward is coming J
- YouTube has lots of excellent examples of clicker training for cats
- Most cats really like elevated heights
- This allows them to feel safe when there is commotion in their home
- You can have options that are as simple as a ledge with window access or a DYI “catio” (outdoor cat enclosure)
- It is also really important for your cats to have a room or area that they can retreat to if they are overwhelmed or need some undisturbed alone time
We all have busy schedules, but just a few minutes of daily play routine can mean a world of difference to have a well-adjusted cat that tolerates change in the home (such as a new pet or newborn). Behavioural problems can sometimes be avoided or managed by providing your cat with outlets to act on its instincts.
Here is a website with a checklist of tools that you can easily incorporate into your cat’s home: https://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats.
Happy (toy) hunting!