There’s no question that indoor cats live longer, healthier lives. It is imperative that cat guardians provide a stimulating environment for indoor cats. Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy has coined the term “catification,” which means creating a cat-friendly environment that provides outlets for a cat’s natural instincts to hunt, catch, kill and eat his prey, followed by grooming and sleeping.
There are several components to providing a stimulating indoor environment:
Provide vertical space
Most cats like to climb and survey their territory from up high. Provide plenty of cat trees or cat shelves. This is especially important in multi cat homes.
Provide hiding spaces
For cats who prefer to stay low to the ground, provide hiding spaces such as cat igloos or cat tunnels. Cardboard boxes or paper grocery bags with the handles cut off also serve this purpose.
Provide plenty of toys
Cats need to play. It’s a way for them exercise their hunting instinct, and it’s just plain fun. Use interactive, fishing pole type toys to play with your cat as a way to exercise her and to increase the bond. Ideally, you should have regular play sessions, 10-15 minutes a day, twice d ay, preferably before feeding time.
Don’t just dangle the toy in front of your cat. Make it interesting for her by mimicking the movement of prey. Vary the speed of the toy, drag it up and down furniture or cat trees. Always allow the cat to catch her “prey” at the end of a play session.
Puzzle toys can be a great way to entertain your cat while you’re at work. Use tiny pieces of healthy treats like freeze dried chicken or salmon inside these toys so cats have to work at getting them out.
Rotate toys in and out. Cats tend to get bored with the same old toys. If you stash them away in a closet for a few weeks and then bring them out again, they’ll feel like they have a brand new toy.
Provide window perches
Window perches, or a cat tree placed by a window, are great ways to entertain your cats. To make it even more fun, hang birdfeeders just outside the window.
For cats who respond to the television screen, leaving the TV on while you’re gone can be a great way to stimulate cats if used correctly. Many pet guardians leave Animal Planet on for their pets under the assumption that it may make their pets feel as if they had company. I believe that for most cats, this may cause more stress than benefit. Cats are territorial animals, and hearing other cats on TV may trigger inappropriate behavior, including redirected aggression and inappropriate urination or territorial marking. DVD’s of fish tanks or of birds and squirrels are a better viewing choice.
Making your home environment cat friendly will lead to happy, healthy, well-adjusted cats.
This article was previously published on Answers.com and is republished with permission.