Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: June 26, 2023 by Crystal Uys


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

clever siamese cat playing with puzzle toy to get treat
Image credit: Agata Kowalczyk, Shutterstock

Cats need to play. It’s a way for them to 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, and 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.

Cat TV

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. DVDs 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 and is republished with permission.

Featured Image Credit: HolgersFotografie, Shutterstock

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4 Comments on How to Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy

  1. So my cat has been staying with us for a few weeks now (temporarily…. Its a long story) but she’s been staying in my room because the rest of my family is allergic. Shes scared of everything and it took forever for her to get used to me and over the past 2 weeks i feel like i’ve worked really hard to build up her trust. But today, We noticed she had fleas, so we decided to vaccum and spray the room and the cat with flea medicine, and after trying to get her to sit still by so we could put the medicine on her (and failing), vaccuming and spraying the room she ran under my dresser looking scared to death and now i feel like i’ve betrayed her trust and that she hates me now after all that i went through to get her to trust me. Any advice, both on how to get the flea problem under control and how to get her to trust me again? Having her scared of me is breaking my heart into tiny pieces.

    • Your cat has gone through an awful lot of change, and it’s not surprising that the vacuuming and flea treatment pushed her over the edge, so to speak. This article may help you deal with her being scared:

      Here is some information on flea control:

      If you’re open to it, you may want to try holistic remedies to help her adjust. I recommend Stress Stopper and Scaredy Cat

  2. My kitties have many toys,climbers,and more. They have so many neat things for your cats now days. Or even the free ones like boxes they love. I love making my kitties happy.

  3. We always let our cats out, in the past. I have a very large yard, and they really enjoyed it. When I got Thunder, though, I decided it was time for a change. We now have coyotes, and I worried something would happen to him.

    I have made a special effort to make his environment interesting. He has a tower and a couple window ledges. I feed the birds close to his tower. He loves hunting leaves this time of year, too.

    We have daily play sessions, I hide treats for him and he has a couple tents, a tunnel and a big beach ball, several scratching posts, few short pedestals and a dog to terrorize. Still, his favorite thing to do is to hang out with me.

    He is a very happy cat–he tells me all the time–and I don’t have to worry about his safety.

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