EXPLORE WAYS TO ENHANCE YOUR INDOOR CAT'S SENSORY EXPERIENCE AND ENRICH THEIR LIFE

My Indoor Cat

Why a Cat Tunnel is Essential for Every Indoor Cat

Cat Tunnel

If you are looking for ways to make your cat feel more secure and comfortable in your home, a cat tunnel should be at the top of your list. You may not think a cat tunnel is necessary, but it can offer many advantages to your kitty. 

Cat tunnels are a fantastic way to entertain your cats and get them moving and interacting with their environment. They can be used as transportation around the garden, from inside to a cat enclosure, or as a fun game in the living room.

Some tunnels include convenient peepholes in the center, allowing the cat to emerge at any point. Depending on your cat’s needs and the size of your space, you may choose from a wide variety of tunnel lengths and designs.  

Some cats have an inherent need to seek cover, feeling more secure or cozy when snuggling against something as they sleep. Cats, for whatever reason, need somewhere to retreat to feel safe. 

This is why a cat tunnel is essential for every indoor cat.

In the article below, I have discussed everything you need to know about cat tunnels, their benefits, different types of tunnels, and selected the best cat tunnels for 2023.

Benefits of Cat Tunnels for Cats

Diy cat tunnel

Encourage Exercise and Play

Your feline friend needs daily playtime, or they risk becoming a nuisance. They may start destroying your furniture with their claws and stealing your keys and pencils. Even more frustrating is when your cat decides to run amok in the middle of the night.

They need a safe space to express their natural predatory instincts, outdoor behavior and hunt, even if it’s with a fluffy toy in your living room or patio.  This applies to every cat or kitten, no matter how docile and adorable your kitty is.

That’s where a cat tunnel toy comes in handy. A cozy cat play tunnel can help your cat express outdoor behavior safely. Keeping your cat occupied will not only help them live a long and healthy life, but it’ll also make for a more well-behaved pet by directing their excess energy in positive directions.

If you’re asking why tunnels are good for cats or why do cats like tunnels, those are both excellent reasons. 

Want to make playing with your cat more exciting? Try laying a tunnel on the floor. This provides your cat with an additional hiding location as they wait for the right moment to pounce on their victim. It is possible to pique your cat’s attention by placing the toy within the tunnel. 

Provide a Safe and Secure Hiding Spot for Shy Cats

If a cat is shy or you live in a home with several cats, pet parents may find it helpful to set up tunnels in different areas. A cat may go about the room in relative safety in this fashion. Some cats prefer to slumber in privacy but are not fans of sleeping crates. 

If your kitty is like this, consider getting them a tunnel. In that manner, they may remain concealed while being prepared to attack any potential prey that may enter the room. Cat tunnels can also serve as a kind of environmental enrichment for your pet. 

Niki’s Picks: What is the Best Cat Tunnel?

indoor cat tunnel
Best Y Shape
Prosper Pet Play Tube
  • Available in 9 colors
  • Peephole in the middle
  • Hanging bell toy and crinkle inner for play
  • Easily wipeable and collapsible
cat tunnel toy
Best T Shape Tunnel
CO-Z Collapsible Cat Tunnel Tube
  • Durable for outdoors – tear resistant polyester around a sprung steel frame
  • Crinkle sounds and hanging toy for play
  • Pop up hole in the center
cat play tunnel
Best Indoor Tunnel
Frisco Peek-a-Boo Chute
  • Inexpensive cat tunnel with mesh section
  • Lightweight, foldable and portable
  • Measures 33 inches long x 10.5 inches wide
outdoor cat tunnel
Best Outdoor Cat Tunnel
Outback Jack Portable Mesh Tunnel
  • Zips up at both ends to keep your indoor cat safe outside
  • Collapsible and stores in a handy carry bag for portability
  • Attaches to other Outback Jack cat enclosures
  • Large – measures 62 inches x 17 inches
cat tunnel for large cats
Best for Large Cats
Terunat 12 inch Wide Tunnel
  • Foldable cat tunnel with two peep holes
  • Measures 51 inches x 12 inches for larger cats
  • Crinkle inner and hanging ball at each end
  • Available in brown or gray colors
cat tunnel toy set
Best for Kittens
Tunnel and Toy Set
  • 48 inch x 9.8 inch S shaped tunnel with 23 toys for all the enrichment your kitten needs
  • Extra peek a boo window in tunnel
  • Collapsible tunnel for easy storage
cat tunnel bed
Best Cat Tunnel Bed
Frisco Elevated Tunnel Bed
  • 16 x 14 inch tunnel for all sized cats
  • Stands 18.5 inches tall
  • Cozy fur lined tunnel with removable fluffy cushion for machine washing
cat tunnels for multiple cats
Best for Multiple Cats
4 Way Cat Tunnel
  • This 4 way cat tunnel has two pop up peek a boo holes – also available in a 5 way option
  • Crafted from tear proof polyester with steel rings
  • Foldable for storage

Things to Consider Before Buying a Cat Tunnel

Cat tunnels for walls

Although we have listed some of the best cat tunnels currently available from retailers like Amazon and Chewy, we will discuss features of commonly used cat tunnels to aid your decision. 

Fabric of several kinds is often used to line cat tunnels, and a wire or plastic frame holds everything together. Most types may be folded for storage. If you are shopping for a tunnel primarily for aesthetics, you have several options in terms of color and design. 

Size and Type 

The diameter of the tunnel should be considered, especially if you have larger cats or multiple cats playing together. It is crucial that your cat can easily pass through the tunnel’s apertures. Cats of a bigger breed (or cats with a lot of extra fat) will need a more spacious entrance. 

The tunnels will be of varying lengths. Your cat may be able to peek out or perhaps escape the tunnel at any point if it is sufficiently long. Cat owners can also find accompanying cat tubes, beds, sofas, and more. 

Quality 

The tunnel is usually constructed from nylon, polyester, or another similar soft fabric. You might consider getting a softer tunnel for your cat because it will likely be warmer than the hard one. 

Fleece is a more forgiving fabric than other options, but it is more of a hassle to clean if your cat throws up on it. The polyester fabric makes cleaning up vomit a breeze. 

Mesh tunnels are also available, but these are more prone to catch claws. 

Materials 

Ensure the material will last by testing it out. Stronger materials like polyester, nylon, or plastic may be required if your cat is more active and lively. These will hold up better to scratches and tears.

Lightweight materials like felt or suede textiles, are ideal for older or less active cats. It is vital to remember that if the cat tunnel fabric were to tear, the exposed wires may be hazardous. There are several cat tunnels on the list above that are made from tear proof polyester and with steel wire for the ultimate durability and longevity.

Fixed vs Temporary Tunnels 

Considering making your own cat tunnel? PVC pipe is a convenient and inexpensive material for DIYers who want to construct a fixed tunnel for their pets that may be left in place permanently or temporarily. It’s a great solution for outdoor shelter in a catio or transitioning from indoors to out.

Allow your pet’s size to serve as a guide in making them. It is essential to have the correct size tubing since most cat tunnels have a diameter of around 13 or 14 inches. 

Indoor Cat Tunnels

Both indoor and outdoor cat tunnels are large enough for your cat to pass through. Indoor ones can be made of fabric, easily folded for storage, and often have peepholes, toys attached to the ceiling, and cozy sleeping areas. They can be as long as a room or just a meter in the corner.

Outdoor Cat Tunnels

An outdoor cat tunnel for indoor cats generally serves the purpose of getting your cat outdoors in a safe way. They’re often made of wood, wire, and mesh and can run right around the garden or as a passageway between the house and their cat enclosure.

If you want a cat tunnel that’s more of an enclosure in the shape of a tunnel, you need to think about how much of your garden or patio you’re willing to give up. Just a corner at the end for a little run? Or the whole back garden, so your cat has their quarters?

It’s also possible to get large, material structures that look like tents. Some even have rooms!

Cat Tunnels by Material

As a cat owner, your cat tunnel’s construction material should be a top priority. She may destroy the entire tunnel in a matter of days if the material is not strong enough. However, a material that’s too hard might get in the way while playing and damage your cat’s claws.

Polyester is the most superior material since it is durable and long-lasting without being so hard that it compromises softness and ease of movement. But there are several others to choose from. 

Fabric 

The benefit of fabric tunnels over polyester is they slide around less. Canvas fabric is also more heavy duty and may be more resistant to scratching and clawing from cats. You can also get polyester tunnels that are lined with fabrics. Soft and warm, these are a great choice for cooler environments or if your cat likes to sleep in their tunnel. The Luckitty Tunnel with Plush Interior is a popular choice, as well as this canvas fabric tunnel below:

fabric cat tunnel

T Shaped Fabric Cat Tunnel with Toys

Crafted from a sturdy canvas oxford fabric, this T shaped cat tunnel has play toys on each end, a peek a boo hole in the center and includes a feather wand.

Felt 

Felt cat tunnels are durable, scratch and tear resistant. A popular choice for 2023 are the cat cave tunnel beds, combining a small tunnel, and cat bed on top. Good for small indoor cats or kittens, the felt tunnel bed below has a 7 inch opening and width of 6.5 inches inside the tunnel. It can be unzipped for cleaning or storage.

cat cave tunnel bed

Cat Cave Tunnel

Compact two in one cat tunnel and bed. This design is best suited to kittens or smaller cats with a 6.5 inch width and 8 inch height inside the tunnel. Sturdy, scratch resistant felt fabric to keep your cat cozy.

Cardboard

You can DIY a cardboard cat tunnel using empty boxes and pieces of craft cardboard. Duct tape the cardboard together after you’ve rolled them into tubes measuring 13 to 14 inches in diameter and place them through holes you made in the boxes’ sides. Give the cat a few hours or days of entertainment by stuffing the boxes with food and playthings.

Consider also pre-made cardboard cat tunnels that double as cat scratchers, such as the Pawsie 3 in 1 below:

cat scratcher tunnel

Pawsie 3-in-1 Cat Scratcher Tunnel

Set of 3 pieces with two tunnels, these sturdy cardboard cat tunnels will keep cats from scratching the furniture. 3 individual pieces can be rearranged into various configurations, or stacked on top of each other. Made from recycled corrugated cardboard and cat safe non toxic glue.

PVC 

You can use a PVC pipe to construct a fun tunnel for your cat to explore. To make the tunnel, cut a section of PVC pipe to size. Create an extra entrance or window by cutting a hole in the center of the pipe. Then, start the pipe at the edge of your grass or next to a wall. 

Wooden 

Timber is an excellent choice for cat tunnels built along fences, catios, or permanent structures around your home. You can also buy smaller wooden cat tunnels that double as a bed, such as this stylish cat bed from Chewy.

wooden cat tunnel

Mau Lifestyle Wooden Sphere Cat Cave

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Crinkle 

Most cats love the sound of crinkle toys, and many tunnels on the list above have crinkled sections within them. The Kong Crinkle Tunnel is also a popular choice and available at Chewy.

crinkle tunnel for cats

Kong Crinkle Tunnel

Straight cat tunnel with peep hole in a durable fabric by the popular pet brand, Kong. It measures 24 x 9 inches, can be combined with other Kong products, and collapses for easy storage.

Mesh 

Mesh tunnels are a wonderful choice to keep your cat safe when outdoors. Your cat can get an unobstructed view of the world outside, without wandering off or posing a threat to wildlife. If you’re worried about claws in mesh, lay a mat in the bottom of the tunnel – although most cats will get used to the mesh.

I’m a huge fan of Outback Jack for their range of portable cat tents and tunnels that interlock together to create a complete system for your cat. Take a look at this tent and tunnel combo below:

outback jack cat tunnel

Outback Jack Mesh Tent and Tunnel Combo

Take your pet outside with the help of the Outback Jack Outdoor Cat Enclosure. This compact enclosure is the secure way to introduce your indoor pet to the big outdoors, with more than 30 square feet of space for play and a connected tunnel for more exploration. 

Types of Cat Tunnels for Indoors

Cat Tunnel Beds

A cat tunnel bed combines the fun of a play tunnel, with a plush comfortable bed for your cat. Popular choices include donut tunnels and beds, curved tunnels and beds, and convertible cat caves.

There are so many choices when it comes to cat tunnel beds, I’ve dedicated an entire article to this. Read my cat tunnel bed reviews here.

Cat Tunnel Toys

Many cat tunnels have toys attached at the ends of the tunnel for your kitty to enjoy swiping and playing with. You can also buy cat toys separately and place within the tunnel, or hide treats for your cat to find.

Cat tunnel and toy combos are also available on Amazon, such as this 24 piece set, which represents great value.

Cat Trees With Tunnel

Cats love to perch up high, as well as hide in tunnels. So it makes perfect sense to combine the two into a cat tree with tunnel. If you live in an apartment, this is an excellent space saving solution using vertical space instead of horizontal.

From small designs to huge cat towers for multiple cats, I’ve covered everything you need to know is this post about choosing a cat tree with tunnel.

Cat Scratch Tunnels

Cat scratch tunnels are usually made from corrugated cardboard and are an excellent way to help your kitty stretch, claw, hide and perch on top.

For a more durable choice, also look for tunnels that contain scratching sections made from sisal, such as this one:

cat scratch tunnel

Trixie Cuddly Condo and Tunnel

Cat tunnel condo with heavy duty sisal fiber for your cat to scratch, claw, stretch or perch on. They’ll love the soft cuddly inside to hide and sleep, and stretching and climbing on top when awake. The tunnel folds in on itself to move it about or pack away.

Cat Tunnels for Outside

Outdoor Cat Tunnel Tents

With a large play area, a 360-degree view, and an extension tunnel, outdoor cat tunnel tents give your indoor cat the freedom to explore the outdoors in safety. They’re great for daily usage on your deck, lawn, balcony, and more, either together or individually. 

Connectable Cat Tunnels

Connectable cat tunnels are a great way to build on to cat furniture or create an enrichment center for your cat.

The connected 2-in-1 cat tunnel’s pop-up tunnel and cube-shaped habitat quickly convert from a space-saving zip-up storage bag into an exciting new adventure play area for your cat. The 90-centimeter-long tunnel has velcro on one end to connect to the square tent.

Cat Tunnels for Cars

Keeping your cat in an enclosed tunnel style carrier is a safe way to transport them in the car.

Best cat tunnel

Kong

Kong is famous for producing toys with novel shapes that may be stuffed with food. Some cat owners may not be aware that there are other options for their feline companions. In addition to the Kong cat tunnel featured earlier in this article, Kong also make a variety of quality cat toys that are guaranteed to keep your kitty entertained.

Heart to Tail

Many pet supplies are available year-round at Aldi. Heart to Tail Cat Tunnel is one of the newer ones, but they have built a large following because of their quality. Aldi’s Heart to Tail brand was a “Best Brand” winner, as shown by the American Choice Awards logo on the package. If you’re a fan of shopping at Aldi, keep an eye out for the Heart to Tail range in their special buys.

Outback Jack

I’ve mentioned Outback Jack cat tunnels a couple of times in this post. If you’re looking for a quality item that is lightweight and portable, consider this brand.

Their Kitty Compound is ideal for both indoor and outdoor use with cats and other small animals. This enclosure is perfect for cats with over 30 square feet of play area between the Happy Habitat and the Fun Run tunnel 

The bag is compact when folded, and when unfolded, the set-up process requires no equipment. It’s the best of both worlds since it lets your cat keep their instincts while keeping them completely protected. Everything you need to start bonding in the great outdoors is included in the box, and no more equipment is necessary. 

Cleanup is a breeze because of the mesh top and bottom. This indoor enclosure is perfect for fostering kittens, separating an ill pet from the household, or introducing a new pet to the family. 

Easyology

This manufacturer offers a selection of toys and pet furniture that you can use to entertain your cat. Use the premium cat tunnel from Easyology Pets to stimulate your cat’s natural behaviors. Your cat will have a blast playing with this award-winning toy while getting plenty of physical activity.

Pawhut

Pawhut offers a selection of catios, cat trees and cat furniture. Designed to give your indoor cat some time outdoors in safety, Pawhut have a wooden cat tunnel that is 59 inches long and can be integrated with other Pawhut products to create a tunnel and play system for your kitty.

DIY Cat Tunnels

Building a DIY cat tunnel is a great first project since it’s often easy and cheap to implement. You have several options when choosing how to make your own cat tunnel. 

DIY Outdoor Cat Tunnel

Outdoor DIY cat tunnels are quite different from their indoor counterparts. They can keep the felines secure and out of harm’s way as they enjoy the outdoors. They’re also typically bigger than indoor tunnels and suit larger cats well. 

DIY Indoor Cat Tunnel

Indoor DIY cat tunnels and cat tunnels for walls are for fun and exercise of the mind. Typically, they make crinkly noises or have cat toys attached that encourage tunnel play. You can make these out of boxes or cardboard sheets, or if you are handy with a sewing machine, sew your own fabric cat tunnel.

Cat Tunnels for Walls

These tunnels may range from small, spherical structures to sophisticated permanent attachments along balconies, fences, or house exteriors. My post on cat tunnels for walls explains this in much more detail.

Cat Tunnel Features

Catio tunnel

When compiling my top picks, I considered a wide range of features. I also considered user feedback, cost, longevity, usefulness, and warranties while evaluating these tunnels. 

I also considered these cat tunnels’ safety features, aesthetics, and convenience of assembly and storage. 

The finest cat tunnels we found can meet the needs of low-energy cats like senior cats who need a place to rest and high-energy cats like kittens and particularly active adult cats who need stimulation. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Cat Tunnels

Cat tunnels for outside

Are Cat Tunnels Safe?

Yes, cat tunnels are safe. However, you should keep an eye on your cat and make sure the tunnel is sturdy. Also, ensure your cat has plenty of room to wander around in the tunnel. 

Is a Cat Tunnel Worth It?

If you have an energetic cat, he or she could probably do with a cat tunnel to burn off some of that energy. Cats love to have a blast playing in their new cat play zone, whether it’s a game of hide-and-seek or a chase. 

How Do You Get a Cat to Use a Cat Tunnel?

Tease your pet into the tunnel by offering catnip, a treat, or a toy. Talk to your cat gently and in a reassuring tone to get it to come through the tunnel towards you. For the first few attempts, you can try luring your cat into the tunnel with treats. 

How Do You Clean a Cat Tunnel?

You can use store-bought or homemade disinfectants to clean your cat tunnel. If you choose to go the homemade route, a good ratio is half a cup of bleach to a gallon of water. While this won’t be as detergent-like as store-bought disinfection, you may still use it to clean the tunnel. 

Why Do Cats Like Running Through Tunnels?

Cats are natural hunters and running through a tunnel mimics the experience of hunting and stalking prey in the wild. The sensation of running through a tunnel is exciting and stimulating for cats. As a confined space, tunnels also provide a sense of safety and security for cats.

How Big Should Cat Tunnels Be?

Your cat should be able to stand comfortably in the cat tunnel. Many standard cat tunnels are around 10 inches wide. Ensure the tunnel isn’t too long, as cats can become disoriented if they cannot see the end or a way out.

How Do You Collapse a 3 Way Tunnel?

Three way tunnels are either in a T shape or Y shape. Collapse the longest part of the tunnel first by gathering the fabric together, then the remaining. Twist the pieces together and secure in a circle.

How Do You Collapse a Cat Tunnel?

Fold the tunnel down like an accordion when not in use. Many cat tunnels have loops, ties or Velcro to secure it together for storage.

How Do I Stop My Cat Tunnel from Collapsing?

If your tunnel is made of wire, check that the wire has not been stretched out of shape. You may need to bend it back together to create more of a circle to stop your tunnel from collapsing. For fabric tunnels without wire, try adding some flexible cardboard inside the tunnel to help it stay in shape.

Why Get a Cat Tunnel?

A cat tunnel is an essential enrichment item for every indoor cat. No only does it provide hours of entertainment and exercise, tunnels also help to satisfy a cat’s natural instincts to hunt and explore. A tunnel will keep your cat mentally and physically stimulated, which will help to prevent unwanted behavioral issues.

Cats need varied environments and activities. Although they like to sleep often during the day, they need to keep their bodies and minds active – tunnels are the perfect way to do this. It lets them explore, use their senses, sleep somewhere safe, and entertain themselves. They can pretend to hunt (many tunnels come with little mice dangling from the top) and play outdoors!

A cat tunnel also gives your cat a sense of safety and security, which can benefit cats prone to anxiety.

Both indoor and outdoor cat tunnels can easily be bought online. They come in various sizes, colors, shapes, and interactive areas. You can also buy catios with cat tunnels, both pre-made and uniquely designed for your garden.

If you have wood, wire, and basic tools, you could make your cat tunnel. This gives you the flexibility to create it exactly how you wish – but you’ll need to be confident in your DIY skills. You can get more catio and cat tunnel ideas here.

What cat tunnel do your cats have? Did your cats like their tunnel, or did it take some getting used to? Let me know in the comments below!

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