How to… Enrich the life of your indoor kitty!
We all know it is safer for your kitty to stay indoors. Diseases like feline leukemia, FIV, wounds from fights, abscesses, and parasites are just some of the many conditions that your kitty can come in contact with in the great outdoors! Don’t forget about the cars, weather, and other predators out there! By keeping kitty inside, you will help to give him a longer and better quality of life. However, there are ways to enrich the world of your indoor only cat… to make him feel like king of the jungle!
Try enhancing basic resources. Food and water are most likely available (and in plentiful amounts!). Food is usually presented in a manner unappealing to a kitty, for example dry food in a bowl. In the wild, the feline species is known to hunt, locate, capture, play with, and eat their prey. Clue into your kitty’s hunting instincts! Try some canned food (which will help to add water to your kitty’s diet- more on that later!) split up into three smaller portions and “hide” it around the house in multiple locations. Then kitty will HAVE to get up to find his food – any will probably enjoy the game! Feeding at short, regular intervals, such as playing this “hunting” game twice daily, will also help to keep your kitty familiar with a routine and will help to prevent obesity. Puzzle toy feeders are wonderful as well! These toys come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Kibble is placed inside the toy and the level of difficulty is set. To get out the treats, kitty must bat around and play with the toy! They will be rewarded with a tasty treat!
Since we know domestic cats derive from the African Wildcat, we understand the kitty’s need for ample physical space. Adequate areas for resting, playing, elimination and hiding should be made available. Vertical space and perches should also be plentiful! Some cats like secret hiding places while others like to be able to see their “kingdom” from a high vantage point. Having many choices of areas to perform feline activities will give your kitty the opportunity to let his personality shine!
Respect kitty’s space. Human and other species interaction (like cat to cat) is different for every kitty, depending on the amount of socialization that has taken place. When kitty is young and learning (2-16 weeks of age) socialization is extremely important, not only between human kitty, but other species as well (such as cat to cat). The amount of socialization at a young age is usually directly linked to the amount of interaction kitty will allow as an adult. Remember, every kitty is different! Some like to be picked up and nuzzled, others love you from far away. The important thing is to respect YOUR kitty’s space – and learn his behaviors and habits. Learning your kitty’s personal preferences will also help to improve the bond between the two of you!
Understand that cats are sensory creatures. Stimulating their senses by using smell and sight can go back to the old days when cats were known as ambush hunters. They used their senses to locate prey. Did you know that because your kitty has such a large frequency range of hearing, he can hear even the slightest movement? Allowing kitty to see out a window from a safe perch is an excellent way of stimulating the senses! Playing a video of fish or birds will keep your cat entertained for hours, keying into those visual and auditory senses! Offering cat nip or feline pheromones (like Feliway), stimulate the olfactory sense (or chemical senses) and allow kitty to assess their environment and maximize their comfort. Try planting some cat grass near a sunny window!
There are many ways to keep an indoor kitty happy and healthy, these are just a few! Stay tuned for more tips and information about your feline best friend!