It’s a Jungle In There! Engaging Your Indoor Cat in Play

A cat relaxing on a couchThe benefits of keeping your feline companion strictly indoors don’t need much of an explanation. With shelter from the elements and protection from disease and injury, indoor cats are simply safer.

There are downsides, however, when you’re a cat living on the inside.

Engaging your indoor cat is an important part of your pet’s overall well-being. At All Creatures Veterinary Hospital, it’s our goal to help you achieve the best for your furry housemate.

The Burden of Daily Feline Living

While it may not seem overtly stressful to be a cat, we ask a lot of our kitty companions. These solitary outdoor hunters simply are not cut out to blend in with the pack-oriented indoor lifestyle.

While your cat probably isn’t losing sleep over pitching that next big idea at the office or wondering how they’re going to pay for a major medical expense, stress in the life of a cat is very real. Major sources of stress for an indoor cat include:

  • Relationships with other pets in the home
  • Changes in the inhabitants of a household
  • Deviations from the normal routine
  • Unusual noises or happenings in the environment
  • Other cats visible from the home

That cocktail party you’re hosting, the remodel happening in the unit above you, or dog sitting for your neighbor may not seem like a big deal to you, but to your cat, they can be incredibly stressful.

Engaging Your Indoor Cat

While it’s not possible to eliminate every source of potential stress, there are ways of engaging your indoor cat that may help alleviate some of the burden of being feline.

Get physical. The typical housecat gets nowhere near the same amount of physical activity that their outdoor counterpart does. Encourage at least three 5-minute exercise sessions per day. Whether it’s a laser pointer or a fishing-pole toy, figure out what gets your kitty going. You can also help your cat stretch out their back by encouraging them to put their front paws up on the wall or a piece of furniture. Getting them to crawl under an object to get a toy is also a great workout for the core muscles. Try setting up a small kitty obstacle course to get in a full workout.

Think vertically. We tend to think of the world in two dimensions, but cats like to explore vertically as well. Utilize climbing trees or cat-friendly shelving to create vertical space for your cat to expand their horizons.

Scratch that. Scratching surfaces are important so cats can stretch, mark, and maintain claw health. Offer multiple areas in the home on which your cat can leave their mark (experiment to find a prefered surface). Most cats like vertical areas so they can stretch out fully.

Bring the outdoors inside. Let your cat to enjoy the view by allowing access to windows (be sure your screen is secure), stocking a fish tank, or growing some cat grass.

Be involved. Never forget that you are your cat’s best advocate. You provide important social interaction (yes, those Netflix nights on the couch together count!) and are most in tune with your cat’s daily habits. If something is different or seems off, it’s your responsibility to let us know right away.

Being an indoor cat is a pretty good gig, especially if you’re an owner who’s willing to put forth a little effort. Engaging your indoor cat is a worthwhile endeavor. Our feline friends bring us so much joy, it seems reasonable to take a few extra steps to make their lives as good as possible for a long time to come.