How to Keep Indoor Cats Engaged & Entertained

By far the safest place for a feline is indoors, but this can also lead to behaviour problems if cats aren’t well exercised, engaged or just plain bored. With all of our hectic schedules, sometimes it can be difficult to carve out enough time to keep our cats healthy with plenty of exercise, activity, and playtime.

A lack of activity can also bring upon weight gain and even obesity which carries many risks, including rising epidemics like diabetes (in humans, canines and cats). This news comes from Dr. Nancy Kay, DVM, a noted pet expert and together with the APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention), they’re pushing for more ways for people and their animal’s doctor to come with more solutions and recommendations. It’s simple really: more activity, exercise, and entertainment will help control an animal’s weight and behaviour.

cat tv

When it comes to entertainment, some animal owners will leave the television set on while they’re not at home in an attempt to appease their pets during their absence. There are even specific channels created to keep animals engaged while we’re away. If these aren’t available in your area, you can also purchase DVDs that are specifically designed with cats in mind.

photo of Boo by James BeatonAnother way to keep them engaged is by encouraging them to participate in one of their favorite activities — birdwatching. If they have a favourite window sill or sliding glass door where they enjoy lounging around, consider purchasing a bird feeder or bath to put within their sight range. But to keep them well exercised, you’ll want to give them some opportunities to be more active.

Holly and CookieThe Buddy System
Perhaps adding another feline into the equation could be the solution for a single cat, but this might not be the best answer. It depends on the cat’s age since older cats usually don’t tolerate younger ones very well, especially kittens. But for younger critters who have positive experiences with other pets, maybe another little furry friend will make them more playful.

Feline Furnishings
There are plenty of accoutrements to consider when it comes to purchasing accessories for your cat, especially when it comes to perches, posts and other places where they can lounge and play. If you have a smaller living space, think of places in your home where your cat can access and keep them clear. An empty shelf or the top of a bookcase is a great place for a feline to call their own space since they enjoy looking down on their environment.

Jackson looking down

Hiding treats, toys and puzzles is a great way to engage a cat’s natural hunting and foraging instincts. Even stashing little bits of dry food around the house can be a fun way to get them exploring more of their indoor environment. It also encourages them to eat smaller amounts of food throughout the day instead of gorging themselves on a single meal. It’s a consensus where many veterinarians agree that animals shouldn’t be given a “free range” when it comes to a bowl full of food being available whenever they wish to eat.

Interactive Toys
Another avenue where there are plenty of active choices available is with toys that keep your cat occupied with their participation. “Interactive cat toys” are a great option that veterinarians recommend and you’ll find dozens of different choices available for their enjoyment, including:

● KONG ® type devices that hide treats inside
● Circular tracts with balls set in motion
● Puzzle boxes with balls and toys inside
● Roaming robotic toys that mimic rodent behavior
● Programmable laser devices that emit movable light shows

Even if you don’t purchase this type of toy, you can still make one yourself. Think about some homemade toys to keep your cat active. How about something that dangles from above? Be creative in some other ways you can keep your cat entertained and exercised whenever you’re unavailable or away from home.

-Emily Ridgwell

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