Just as you get bored when you don’t have anything to do, the same goes for your feline friend too. Mental stimulation is a highly important factor for the wellbeing of your cat. And as their owner, you have a certain responsibility to ensure that they get the mental nourishment that they require, whether you are in or out of the house.
Boredom is bad for your cat’s health, but cats who receive regular mental stimulation will enjoy a host of advantages. Mental exhaustion leads to better and more restorative sleep, as well as an improved mood. It also protects against the decline in the brain in later life. Also, physical activity releases endorphins and reduces depression and anxiety. You are also less likely to see problem behavior which is often the result of not having enough to do.
If you are struggling for inspiration on what to do with your cat, this is the blog post for you. We are going to provide some innovative entertainment solutions for you to try at home.
Provide Varied Toys and Puzzles
If the only toy that your cat has is a chewed up old mouse, the time has come to invest in something new for them! There are plenty of different cat toys out there which provide both mental and physical stimulation. For example, you have laser toys which your cat will love chasing around, or yarn and string-based toys. But you should also look for puzzles which offer food as a reward. Obviously don’t overuse these to the point that your kitty starts piling on the pounds, but it is nice for your cat to feel like they are earning something for their effort. Clever cats will work out the easier puzzles quickly, so look for ones that allow you to up the difficulty level as well.
Invest in Some Cat Furniture
If you have a favorite chair at home, you will already be well aware of the sense of possessiveness that you feel over it. Cats are also very territorial creatures, so it is nice to offer them some furniture which they can call their very own. The most obvious is a bed or basket where they can curl up to get their forty winks. A couple of other possible options are scratching posts and benches. These have the added advantage of allowing your cat to sharpen up their claws and stopping them from tearing your furniture to shreds! You can also get sophisticated cat furniture which combine scratching pads, toys, hidey holes, and other features too. Remember that cats love climbing up high to see the world from a higher plane if they get the chance! But take into account the size of your kitty so you don’t choose anything which is too big for them.
Give a View of Other Animals
Cats are natural born hunters and love the chance to watch potential prey – even if they don’t have a chance of catching it. There are a couple of ways that you can give them the view of smaller, darting creatures that they crave. But you will have to be careful that it is impossible for a blood bath to ensue! First, you could invest in a fish tank, which will keep your cat visually stimulated even when you are out of the house. Obviously, you will have to make extra certain that it is secure and there is no way that your cat can access the tank or knock it down onto the ground. Alternatively, you can invest in a bird feeder to encourage some avian friends into your backyard. If you have an indoor cat, you don’t have to worry so much, but if you own an outdoor feline, you will need to be more careful with where you put it. Alternatively (and more safely), you could simply get a wildlife DVD to put on the TV when you are out of the house.
Another Feline Friend
If you suspect that your cat may be feeling a little lonely all by themselves, getting another cat for them to play with could prove to be the ideal solution. Obviously, doubling the number of felines in your house is a big responsibility and not one you should take on unless you can be certain that you can provide them with proper care and attention. Also, you should try to choose a cat that matches your current furry friend’s personality. This last thing that you want is for them to be enemies who fight all the time. As a rule of thumb, if your cat is over four years old and has always lived alone, this may not be the ideal solution. But if they are under two and have had positive experiences with other felines in the past, this could prove to be a great answer to your problem. Make sure that you prepare thoroughly to introduce the other cat into your home and give your current kitty the chance to get used to the change in living situation.
Give Your Kitty Something to Climb Inside
As a cat owner, you will probably already be well aware how much felines love to clamber inside things if they get half a chance. Obviously, there are plenty of different options available for purchase, but if you are looking for a budget and DIY solution, a cardboard box is enough for most kitties. Put inside some blankets and toys and you give them a great place to sleep. Alternatively, you could use it as a plaything to enjoy games of hide and seek. And the great thing about cardboard boxes is that you can simply replace one when it is worn out or scratched to pieces. Since we are all receiving so many packages these days, it is unlikely that you will ever be short of a box or two!
Create Vertical Space
One thing that cats universally love is the chance to climb and reach higher ground whenever they can. We have already talked about scratching posts and many of these come with platforms and multiple levels for your kitty to access. Try to combine this with another activity that cats love – staring out of the window – by placing the furniture next to a window perch which they can sit on. Otherwise, you could move some of your own furniture like a bookshelf closer to a window. You will need to clear off the surface of anything which can be knocked over, so you are not left having to sweep up broken glass and/or antiques all the time. Remember to leave your curtains or window blinds open so your cat has a nice view of the outside world. The other advantage of giving your cat climbing space is that it is less likely that they will try to use your curtains or something else which you would prefer they don’t!
Provide Outdoor Time
Some cats are lucky and have the freedom to enter the outside world whenever they like. But if you have a cat who you keep indoors most of the day, you should consider giving them some supervised outdoor time. One way of doing this is by teaching your cat to walk on a leash. However, you should bear in mind that this is an activity which takes a fair bit of time and patience to achieve successfully. Another option is to invest in a crate, tunnel, or some kind of other enclosed room. This way, you can give your cat a taste of the outdoor world without worrying that they are going to run off all the time. Obviously, you need to be especially careful if you live in a city or somewhere with more traffic. Before you take your cat outside, you should also ensure that they are updated with their vaccinations. You could also consider getting them microchipped if you want to be extra cautious that they are not going to get away from you.
Hire a Pet Sitter or Visitor
If you tend to be out of the house a lot and you are worried that your cat is not getting enough human interaction, one possible solution is to hire a pet sitter or visitor to come into your home from time to time. In contrast to dogs, cats are quite low maintenance creatures, so they don’t necessarily have to stay for long. It could be someone who comes in for just half an hour to make sure that your cat has enough to eat and perhaps play one or two games with them. As well as providing mental stimulation, this could also be an effective solution for their physical wellbeing as regular activity will help their joints and bones, as well as making it less likely that they will become obese. If you don’t know anyone directly, there are plenty of pet websites out there who can connect you with people who are looking for work as a cat sitter.
Invest in a Timed Feeder
When you go out to work on a daily basis, this could mean that you are leaving your cat at home for as many as 9 or 10 hours alone without a meal. While some cats are fine not eating during this time, others may not be getting enough nourishment. In fact, studies have shown that cats are better off eating multiple small meals throughout the day rather than one or two big ones. So, the source of your cat’s lethargy could simply be the fact that they are not eating enough or at the right times. One possible solution is to get a timed feeder which allows you to specify when you want the next meal to become available to your cat. Another advantage of offering regular meals is that they can provide more structure to your cat’s day, as well as having the potential to improve their behavior.
It may seem silly to switch on the TV just for your cat to watch, but some cats can’t get enough screen time – especially if it is a nature program which is playing. Make sure that you choose the right show for them. One which focuses on insects, rodents or birds is ideal. There are plenty of special videos for cats which are available on sites like YouTube, so you can cast these directly from your phone onto your TV. However, you should be wary about playing these videos daily as they can be irritating over time as your cat never has the opportunity to catch anything on there. If you are especially worried about your cat during the daytime, you could even consider installing a video surveillance system to keep a close eye on him or here when you are out of the house. While pet cams are a relatively new phenomenon, there is every chance that they will experience an explosion in popularity in the near future.
While cats are very independent creatures who like to spend time on their own, they can still become bored. So, you should try to provide them with regular stimulation and entertainment whether or not you are at home. Generally, it is fine to leave cats on their own during a working day, but some of the solutions above can help their day to go by more enjoyably. As a general rule of thumb, indoor cats should not be left on their own for a period of 12 hours or more as they are likely to get anxious. Felines who can go outdoors can generally be left for longer – 24-48 hours – as long as they have plenty of food and water left. A pet sitter is a good solution if you are going to be away for longer. But if you really need to be away for a long time, you may need to check your cat into a cattery, so they get the love and attention they need.
- 4 Ways to Keep Your Indoor Cat Entertained While You’re Away – PetMD
- How to Keep Your Cat Entertained When He’s Home Alone – Diamondback Drugs
- How to Keep Indoor Cats Engaged & Entertained – Annex Cat Rescue