While some cats may easily take to a harness and enjoy exploring the great outdoors, others may never be comfortable outside, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have an adventure. From enriching your cat’s environment to engaging in playtime with your cat, there are numerous things you can do to bring the adventure inside.
Such indoor adventures allow felines to tap into their true nature because while we may think of our kitties as snuggly lap warmers, they’re also predators that aren’t that far removed from their wild ancestors. So help your kitty tap into that wild cat within — and prevent boredom-related behavioral problems while you’re at it — by trying out the activities outlined below.
Kitty playtime is all about hunting prey, so the best way to engage your cat in play is to appeal to their natural instincts by simulating a good hunt. Interactive toys like feather wands, laser pointers and fishing-pole toys are ideal for this, but it’s not just the toy that matters — it’s how you play with it.
To get your cat’s attention and encourage him or her to stalk and pounce on the prey, it’s important to make the toy act like prey would. Move the toy quickly across the floor away from your cat like a mouse or have it hop around the floor and then fly into the air like a bird. And kitties can’t help but chase something that turns the corner and appears to be hiding.
Try different types of toys and various actions to see what gets your cat’s attention, and be sure to let your kitty catch its prey on occasion. Also, when you’re finished playing with an interactive toy like a feather wand, put it away until it’s time to play again so the toy maintains its appeal.
Build a hidey box
You’re already well aware of kitties’ love affair with boxes, but the reason your cat loves to climb, hide and play in boxes is because the confined space provides protection from predators — as well as an ideal place to watch for prey. Providing a box for playtime is an inexpensive way to let your cat engage in natural behaviors, and you can make that box even more fun by cutting a few holes in the side, sprinkling in catnip or dropping in a few toys.
Check out some more ideas to help your kitty have the ultimate cardboard-box adventure.
Dogs aren’t the only animals that enjoy chasing and retrieving toys. Lots of indoor cats also enjoy a good game of fetch because a toy that flies through the air or rolls across the floor looks a lot like prey. Try tossing a favorite toy across the room to capture your kitty’s attention and tap into those hunting instincts.
Many people think that cats can’t be trained, but they’re actually very trainable as long as you use positive reinforcement — and have some tasty treats on hand. You can teach your cat a variety of behaviors through clicker training, which will stimulate your pet’s mind and strengthen your bond.
Solve a delicious puzzle
Your cat likely spends a fair amount of time alone, so a great way to keep your kitty mentally stimulated when you’re not around is a self-play toy like a puzzle feeder or food-distributor ball. These toys encourage cats to work for their food by batting at them, chasing them or solving a puzzle, and the food reward they provide motivates cats to play. Be sure to account for the food in the feeder when determining your cat’s daily nutrition allowances.
You can purchase puzzle toys at your local pet store or even make your own.
Enrich your cat’s environment
Create a home that encourages an active lifestyle by providing plenty of places for your cat to climb, hide and play. Cat trees, cardboard boxes, furniture at varying levels and plenty of self-play toys allow your kitty to embark on indoor adventures all on his or her own.
Also, just because your cat doesn’t want to don a harness or isn’t ready to explore the outdoors doesn’t mean he or she can’t engage with the natural world. Provide a window perch so your cat can watch birds and insects outside, or build an outdoor enclosure known as a catio so your kitty can safely enjoy the sights, sounds and scents of nature.