Choosing to keep a cat indoors or allowing it access to freely roam outdoors is something every cat owner has to face, and the option to keep a cat inside is becoming much more popular.
For many owners, it can be a safer or more practical option. Those in upper-level flats may not have easy access to the outdoors, and a free-roaming cat carries risks relating to traffic, chemicals, other animals and unscrupulous people, especially in densely populated areas. Some, however, still see confining a cat to the indoors as unfair to their exploratory nature, but by recognising the needs of our cats, even a smaller home can be turned in to a varied and exciting environment for any feline.
We can start by trying to view our home from our cat’s point-of-view, for example, which areas are accessible, look comfortable, provide visual stimulation, or offer a good hiding place? We can then make simple changes to enhance each aspect, such as adding shelving to grant a cat access to a higher perch from which they can survey the room. We can try adding to outdoor areas a bird feeder, moving ornament, or pollinator-attracting plant, to offer something exciting to watch from inside. Using old blankets or towels, we can make quiet corners in to a safe, secure area for them to hide or play.
Feeding time is a simple enrichment opportunity, often overlooked. While it’s quick and easy to simply place kibble in a bowl, we can instead hide treats or food in various locations around the home, allowing our cat to use their curiosity and keen sense of smell to seek out their food. We can also recycle old boxes or egg cartons to create makeshift puzzle feeders, offering a mentally-challenging aspect to mealtime. Adding catnip, or other cat-friendly scents that pique their curiosity, playing calming music or other nature sound effects, and offering new surfaces for the cat to walk, scratch or lie one, are other ways to keep cats stimulated.
This doesn’t need to be an expensive undertaking as simple changes can be achieved through a little creativity and reusing of other household items.