Cats are naturally active. In an outdoor environment, they hunt for prey, play with littermates and are on the lookout for predators. When domesticated, many of those concerns are removed and a cat no longer needs to be as active. Their food is provided, the environment is safe from predators and often a cat is the only animal in a home and doesn’t have a littermate to play with.
Indoor cats need mental stimulation and exercise. A bored cat can become destructive by clawing furniture, spraying, and even biting. Cats that don’t get enough exercise can become overweight, which can trigger many health problems.
So how do you keep an indoor cat stimulated? It depends upon the particular cat. Many cats are most active early in the morning and again at dusk. But you need to observe your cat to see when it is most active and introduce toys at that time.
What kind of toys? Again, it depends upon your particular cat’s personality. The best toys will stimulate several of their senses at the same time. Toys fall into several different categories:
Climbing: Cat towers, wall-mounted climbing systems, modular, and stackable climbing systems all give you cat a place to follow his natural instinct to climb.
Great exercise potential and helps keep cats mentally stimulated while they climb and survey their environment from a different vantage point
Scratching: Scratching posts come in all shapes and sizes. From corrugated cardboard to carpeted towers, find several options that work and put them throughout your home. Your furniture will thank you.
Cats scratch to remove frayed outer claws and expose the new sharper claws. They also scratch to mark their territory.
Stalking/Hunting: Look for toys that move—balls, motorized interactive toys, or toys that you can hide catnip or treats in.
Cats stalk to get closer to prey. The closer they can get; the better chance they will have of catching what they seek.
Chasing/Hunting: Toys that stimulate chasing include wands with dangling “prey,” tunnels that “hide” balls, and motion toys that conceal a moving object.
The best thing about hunting toys is the exercise it provides for your cat.
Pouncing: Toys that allow your cat to attack or pounce, which draw from a cat’s natural “kill” instinct, include small catnip toys and toy mice.
Pouncing and capturing the prey adds to your cat’s enjoyment and motivates your cat to want to play more often.
Exploring: Many toys and even household items allow your cat to explore—a simple box or paper bag will often provide for a secret place for your cat to hide. But there are many toys too, such as cat towers, modular cat environments, and cat caves.
Cats are basically inquisitive and want to explore their environment. Exploring toys help keep a cat from becoming bored.
Finding the right toys to keep your cat from becoming a bored, inactive feline may take a bit of experimentation, especially if the cat is older and not used to play. But with a little patience and some trial and error, your cat’s home environment may help it be a happier and more active cat.