Making sure that your cats are entertained throughout the day is a struggle for many indoor cat owners. House cats don’t have their local surroundings to go and hunt in, trees to climb, friends to meet or new sights and sounds to keep them occupied. Bored cats lead to stressed cats, which lead to frustrated cats, which can lead to unwanted behavior. So it’s in everyone’s interest to keep cats engaged and to make sure they’re having plenty of fun. The good news is that there are a few simple ways to make sure your cat is occupied and engaged.
So, how to entertain indoor cats?
Signs your cat is bored
Before we go into how to entertain a bored cat, it’s important to recognise the signs that your cat isn’t getting enough TLC. If they’re displaying any of this behaviour, you need to up the attention you’re giving them! (And even if they’re not, preventing this behaviour from developing is important.)
- Over-grooming. Bored indoor cats tend to lick, chew, and pull at their fur. What may have started out as a ‘there’s nothing else to do so I may as well clean myself’ task, can turn painful when over-done.
- Moping. Cats can naturally be a bit lazy and mope around the house when they’re looking for their daytime nap spot. Bored indoor cats will tend to do this more and generally just look a little glum.
- Lack of interest. Entertained cats are generally pretty curious animals. They like to know what you’re up to, what’s under the bed and are constantly sticking their little noses in the food cupboard. Cats that seem to be lacking interest are probably a bit bored of indoor life.
- Destructive behaviour. Bored cats can sometimes create their own fun – which might be at the expense of your furniture. They might also play more aggressively with other cats in your household.
- Over-eating. This is a really easy thing for bored cats to do, particularly because it’s something nice. As well as being bored, obesity can be a problem for indoor cats, so keeping them entertained can help keep this at bay too.
How to entertain indoor cats
Making sure your cat has enough to occupy themselves with is really important if you want a happy, loving pet. This is especially true if you’re out for longer periods of time and can’t help with the entertainment. Luckily, you can do some simple things (when you are there) and buy a few others to make sure they’re the happiest they can be.
Spend time with them and talk to them
Anyone who isn’t a cat owner might describe cats as aloof, independent and even a bit standoffish. Whilst that may be true for some cats, it’s not the case for many (and in my opinion, most). Cats are loving creatures that like a bit of affection, in fact I’ve found my indoor cats more sociable and friendly than one’s I’ve allowed outdoors. Having said that they will certainly let you know when they’re not in the mood!
One of the most important, and easiest things you can do to reduce boredom is to spend time with them. Let them sit on your lap whilst you work, speak to them in a high-pitched voice, say their name many times and generally give them a good stroke. This affection will increase your bond and engage them. One of my cats loves to head butt me as an affection way of greeting me!
You may think that fetch is solely reserved for dogs. But you’d be wrong. A great bored cat solution is to let them chase something you’ve thrown. This could be a fallen feather from the garden (my cat goes crazy for them), ping-pong balls, a toy mouse or just about anything that they can hunt or bat around! They’ll love to chase it, pounce and do that silly on-their-back-scratchy-air-thing cats like to do. It’s also a really good way of exercising indoor cats.
Cat toys and games are a great way to keep your indoor cat entertained. They could be anything from a remote-controlled, bright pink mouse to a free paper bag. And their favourite? A cardboard box. Give a cat a cardboard box with a few holes in it and they’ll be happy all day. We have a grocery box that our cats love to sleep in! They also love toys that make a sound or light up. These can keep them sliding across the kitchen floor for at least a few hours.
It’s a good idea to rotate your cat’s toys so they don’t get fed up with one. You can also clear them away after playtime to make them more special.
Keep them active
When thinking about entertaining indoor cats, movement is really important. Cats naturally like to wander and climb to great heights to explore. Whilst indoor cats can’t wander quite as far as outdoor ones, you can provide them with a climbing frame, cat tree or cat activity centre. Cats love vertical play so the higher your cat tree the better. These are great ways for them to exercise and satisfy their curiosity instincts. Many also come with dangling toys, ramps, scratching posts and soft areas to have a quick nap!
Get a catio!
Catios (cat patios) are a wonderful way to keep indoor cats entertained, as well as giving them a bit of exposure to the great outdoors. They can range from cat tunnels to large outdoor structures. They’re great for making your cat exercise, allowing them to interact with their surroundings and learn new skills – all whilst staying safe. You can even get window or balcony enclosures that are a bit smaller.
Hide their dry food
Cats are natural predators, but indoor cats don’t get an opportunity to hunt (which is one less messy job for you). A fun game for them can be to ‘hunt’ down their dry food or a healthy treat. I wouldn’t recommend putting it down the back of the sofa, but you can put some in Tupperware boxes around the house and let them search for it. Food dispensing games are also fun for cats and it helps them stay mentally active. Of course, especially with indoor cats, it’s important to manage their weight and not overfeed them.
Give them a view
The key to entertaining indoor cats is keeping them mentally and physically active. Putting a bird feeder in the garden could be a good way for them to keep busy as they watch all the birds fly around. It will connect them to the outdoor world and stimulate their brains and imagination. You can also get a cat window seat where they can spend many a happy hour watching the world go by.
Get them a friend
Like with humans, a reason for cats being bored can simply be loneliness. Having another cat or dog means they can entertain each other and feel less alone. They can play, sleep, eat and get up to mischief together!
Mix it all up!
Although it’s important to have a routine when entertaining your cat. It is a great idea to mix up the types of play and toys you give them. So, use different toys and play different games with them on different days. Let them enjoy their catio but mix up what toys and activities are in there to keep life interesting for them.
So, there you have it. A few simple ideas on how to entertain indoor cats. Do you have any more tips you care to share?
I’m an indoor cat convert and created My Indoor Cat to help other indoor cat owners make the best choices for their cats and kittens.