I am a firm believer that cats are happiest when they’re indoor cats. They don’t have to be on their guard all the time. They don’t get in the way of traffic that could potentially harm them. Cats also don’t run into other unfriendly animals or people who could hurt them. Local wildlife is safe from them, and so on and so forth. You can never know what may possibly happen to them when they go out. The endless stress and worry when they’ve gone exploring too far away and decide to stay away from home for a few days is just too much for me. As I’m fond of saying, I wouldn’t let my human children wander about without supervision, so why would I let my fur children do that?
Ways to Keep Indoor Cats Happy and Entertained
It’s perfectly possible to give your beloved indoor kitty a lovely life; they are missing nothing from their jaunts outdoors. If possible, give them a screened porch from which to watch the world go by. I did this in my previous home (my current one is too small, but I will be doing it again in the future), and it transformed the porch from the outside to just another room in the house, except it had an amazing view. I nailed shelves up that acted like steps for my cats and they loved to lounge about on the shelves and gaze upon the world. It’s like you’re bringing the outdoors closer to your cats without subjecting them to it.
If a screened porch isn’t possible, don’t despair. Windows are cat television; there is nothing like giving them a good view of the outdoors. I’ve known cats to sit and look outside windows for hours. My oldest cat — Grimalkin — loves to bag the window seat for his own because it is cushioned and he can nap on it when he’s not looking outside. I’ve rigged up a bird table outside the largest window in my home and there’s a feathered riot that happens at that table when I put vegetable scraps and seeds out for the birds. Feeding birds is good for your karma — and is hugely entertaining for your feline friends.
So now they have the window. What next? Well, how about a perch? Cats love to climb, so be sure to buy your fur children a cat tree or two. There are some pretty lavish ones out there with tunnels and multiple perches on various levels. I’ve even seen one with a hammock, but you don’t need an overpriced designer perch. Your cats will be happy — as mine are — with a perfectly ordinary cat tree. If you don’t want to buy one and you’re reasonably handy, it’s possible to knock one up on your own.
Toys and Catnip
Cats love toys and they love catnip, so make sure you buy your cats some catnip-scented toys. But be careful with how much catnip you give them; I typically put out one toy at a time. There are catnip sprays out there as well so if you want them to gravitate toward a particular area — and equally importantly to stay away from a certain area — spraying their area (example: their tree) with catnip spray is a good way to ensure that your kitties know which spots are their own. A good mix of toys does cats a world of good; you don’t have to spend a bomb on toys for them either. I built my cats a fort made out of cardboard boxes that I had a surplus of when I moved and it lasted them for weeks. Bonus: they got massive enjoyment out of it. Happy cats = happy owners.
The Basics for Your Indoor Cat’s Happiness
So I think we’ve covered all the basics for indoor cat happiness: give them something to look at — whether that’s the screened porch, a window, a bird table outside said window, or even an aquarium (which is endlessly fascinating for cats too) — just give them a room with a view. Cat trees to climb on and climb down and swat human heads that go too close to them are a must. Finally, a good mix of toys and cardboard boxes, some scented with catnip to provide extra joy and stimulation, is an absolute must. Finally, cats love those treat balls that dispense kibble as they push it around and play with it, so that’s another toy on the must list.
Have fun knowing that your cats are safe and happy!
Awanthi Vardaraj lives and writes in the port city of Chennai, in the south of India, where she runs her own small artisanal bakery and keeps a garden full of jasmine plants and herbs that she still cannot name. As a freelance writer, she mostly focuses on food, feminism, travel, mental health, and poverty. She also nurtures a deep love for the Oxford comma and the semicolon. Visit her website at www.awanthi.com and follow her on Twitter at AwanthiVardaraj.
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