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Preventing boredom in indoor cats

06 September 2019
Some cats are “innies” and some our “outties”. Some have the best of both worlds. But for those that are housed exclusively indoors, boredom can set in if their environment lacks enrichment.

There is plenty to suggest that indoor-only cats live longer, safer lives than their outdoor counterparts. But this is only true if their lives are fun and engaging. If you are going to have your cat inside, it is important to make its environment as stimulating as possible. If you don’t, cats can quickly become bored, stressed and even depressed, resulting in detrimental and destructive behaviours.

So, how do you prevent boredom in your indoor cat?

Luckily, the cat species is easily pleased so you needn’t worry about spending a fortune on new toys and gadgets.

Think about your house from your cat's point of view. Ask yourself - Is it cat friendly? Is there plenty for my cat to do? Are there places for my cat to sit and look outside? Are there enough playthings dotted around? Is it safe, varied and comfortable?

If your indoor cat is showing negative behaviour like scratching furniture, inappropriately urinating, vocalising and grooming excessively or displaying aggression, then one or more of these answers is likely to be ‘no’.

In which case, you need to try and resolve the issue before the behaviour develops out of control. For example, boredom can lead to over-grooming, which in turn leads to skin complaints and hairball formation. Boredom can lead to over-eating or lack of appetite, resulting in unhealthy weight change.
Try to rotate toys; if your cat has a particular favourite, take it away for a few days and replace it with another. When your cat appears to be tiring of the new toy, return the favourite and see how excited your cat becomes! This just proves that you don’t need to splash out on new toys every time the novelty of the old ones wears off. You can always make your own toys with everyday items in your home. Simple household items provide entertainment for kittens and cats. Basic things like string, ribbon, bells, bottles, cotton reels and balls are cheap and easily available. Just make sure that toys are safe for unsupervised play.

Having an indoor cat means it won’t always have your company in the house and will be left to its own devices on some occasions. Providing enough for you cat to do and play with in your absence is just as important as interacting with your cat when you’re there.

Cats go crazy for catnip, so invest in some catnip-filled toys. These will help calm your cat during periods of stress and will provide a great plaything and comforter.

Aside from fresh drinking water, every cat should have access to items like scratching posts, climbers and beds. Cats have an instinctive urge to scratch and do it for beneficial reasons, so scratching should always be facilitated. Far better that your cat scratches a sisal post than uses your expensive sofa or carpet!
Cats are no different from the rest of us and thoroughly enjoy a good view. Whatever the size of your house, all will have the one thing cats desire most - a window. Your cat needs to see the great outdoors, even if he doesn’t go outside. There is nothing worse than feeling cooped up and your cat shouldn't have to suffer for staying safe inside.

If you can, position a bird feeder directly outside (or on) the window to entertain your cat during the day. The comings and goings of wildlife are a great distraction and the warm, sunny windowsill is the ideal place for that afternoon snooze. If your cat is elderly or arthritic, give a helping hand up to the window with a strategically placed chair or ramp.