The great outdoors—although exciting—can be very dangerous for your indoor cat. Traffic, predators, unpredictable weather…all expose your cat to risks that can shorten their life. Keeping your cat happy indoors is essential for meeting their basic needs without the risks of unsupervised outdoor access.
You may be wondering: are house cats happy? The answer is yes, with the right enrichment!
Read about indoor vs. outdoor cats here for more information. Below, we’ve detailed how to make your cat happy indoors for a safe and happy life.
#1: Create a Rich Indoor Environment
It’s important to make your indoor environment as exciting and comfortable as possible when you have an indoor cat. Cats need places to climb, hide, and relax. Provide plenty of scratching posts and comfy beds that act as “scent soakers.” These allow cats to claim their own territory in their home so that they feel relaxed and happy.
Utilize vertical space with tall cat trees or cat shelves to allow your cats to climb. Is your cat trying to escape? Read more about preventing indoor cats from escaping to learn why. Check out 6 ways to a cat’s heart for more suggestions on keeping indoor cats happy.
#2: Provide Interactive Toys
Cats are natural hunters. Providing plenty of toys is crucial for a cat-friendly home. Leave lots of toys out for them to play on their own when you are away. Catnip-filled mice, feathers, even cardboard boxes are all great options.
Try to schedule two or three ten-minute play sessions with your cat throughout the day. While they can play on their own, an interactive feather toy guided around the house by you is the best way to get them up and running to tap into their predatory instincts.
#3: Invest in an Indoor Cat Door
An indoor cat door is a great way to allow your cat access to different areas in the house. For instance, the SureFlap Microchip Door is programmed to open only for your cat, so it’s a great option for allowing them access to an enclosed litter box space, or a laundry room where they can eat their food and relax peacefully. Indoor cat doors can keep dogs away from litter boxes and cat food so that your cat feels safe and secure in the home.
#4: Adopt a Second Cat
If you have one cat, consider adopting another! Contrary to popular belief, cats are not solitary creatures. They often bond closely with a littermate or another animal companion. Cats do great in pairs and get lots of energy out chasing each other around the house. If you are adopting a kitten, we highly recommend getting two! They will tire each other out, keeping each other happy and out of trouble.
#5: Use Catnip and Cat Grass
Catnip is a great way to spice up your cat’s day. Sprinkle some catnip on their favorite bed or cat tree for an enriching treat. Catnip-filled toys can also get your cat playing throughout the day.
You can bring some of the outdoors inside with cat grass. Cats love to chew on cat grass and it allows them to feel like they are outside roaming in a field.
#6: Provide Hiding Places
Provide plenty of hiding places for your cat so that they feel safe and comfortable in your home. Warm tent beds, cat condos, or a simple cardboard box are great choices. Hiding is a natural instinct for cats and it can be very stressful if they feel they cannot retreat when they need a break from the hustle and bustle of the household.
It’s also important to give your cat a clean, private place to go to the bathroom. Here are some tips on preventing kitty litter smell in your home.
#7: Take Your Cat for a Walk
Indoor cats can benefit greatly from walks! This is particularly helpful for door-dashing cats, as it allows them controlled times throughout the day when they can get out and explore the outdoors. It’s also an excellent way to help overweight cats lose a few pounds so that they are healthier and happier. Check out our article on leash training your cat to get started.
#8: Respect Your Cat’s Boundaries
It is crucial to understand your cat’s personality and respect their boundaries. For instance, if they absolutely refuse to go for a walk after patient and careful training, maybe that’s something they do not want to do. Understanding your cat goes a long way in providing an environment that suits them and their individual needs.
It can be very stressful for cats when their space is invaded. Learn about cat body language to recognize the signs that your cat needs a break, and allow them to interact with you and their environment on their own terms.
#9: Spay or Neuter Your Cat
There are countless benefits for spaying and neutering cats, particularly indoor cats. Cats who are not fixed will often display behavioral issues and aggressive tendencies. They will also most certainly spend lots of time trying to escape to wander the neighborhood in search of a mate. It’s very difficult to keep an unfixed indoor cat happy. We highly recommend having your cat spayed or neutered for a happy and healthy life.
#10: Fence Your Yard or Build a Catio
If your cat is still craving some outdoor time, one option is to fence in your yard or build a catio. A catio is an excellent way to allow cats outdoor access safely and securely. Here are some of the best window pet doors that can lead out to a catio. Check out how to keep your cat in your yard for more information.