Recreating the Outdoors Indoors for Your Cat

One question we often hear when recommending keeping cats safe at home is “how do I keep my feline friend happy?”. Yes, some cats love to explore, but a cat kept safe at home will live on average 10 years longer than a cat who is allowed to roam. One of many reasons to keep your beloved furry friend safe at home. The good news is you can recreate much of what your cat loves about the outdoors inside by providing opportunities for natural behaviours. Whether it’s installing catios, harness training, or providing plenty of stimulating toys and activities indoors, there are plenty of ways that you can ensure that your cat stays happy, healthy, and secure.

Below are some enrichment solutions to fulfill your cat’s needs at home.

Don’t cats have predatory instincts?

Solution: Simulate hunting experiences

Cats are very intelligent creatures and in nature rely on their predatory instincts to survive. At home it is important to recreate these hunting experiences. You can do this with fun activities like making toys move like prey, rotating toys, and hiding toys and food for your cat to find. Clicker training or using interactive cat toys can also help keep them happy, healthy, and mentally sharp.

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Cat playing with enrichment toy.

Don’t cats need to be social?

Solution: social enrichment

Despite their independent reputation, just like us, our cats have their own personalities. Respecting how they like to interact as an individual is key. To understand your cat’s psychology it is important to begin with understanding their body language. It also helps to figure out what they like, for example, they might prefer daily playtime or short training sessions. Grooming sessions can be a wonderful way to bond with your cat, noting that cats are generally more comfortable being touched in some areas of their body than others. Most importantly, follow your cats lead, let them initiate, choose, and control the duration of interactions. Asking your cat’s consent before each and every interaction will let them know they can trust you.

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Cat consent test infographic.

Don’t cats prefer to be outside?

Solution: Environmental enrichment

Environmental enrichment means making sure your home is set up to meet all your cat’s needs. Try to recreate the outside indoors by providing your pet with choice. They should be able to choose whether they want to sit in the sun or shade, play or sleep, interact with you or other pets, or retreat into a safe space. Be sure to set up your house so that your cat is free to express their natural behaviours, including scratching, chewing, and playing.

Vertical space is especially important for cats, allowing them to survey their territory and feel safe. Consider how you can give your cat opportunities to get up off the ground – on top of furniture, on windowsills, you can even install elevated cat shelves, hammocks and walkways.

Providing a secure outdoor enclosure is another great way of keeping your cat happy and safe at home. An enclosure (e.g., a catio) can be attached to your cat’s indoor space (e.g., via a window or cat flap) allowing them to choose where they spend their time. If you have a balcony or veranda which can be made escape-proof, this is a great option. Alternatively, if you have the space, you could build a free-standing enclosure (e.g., cat condo).

If you’re considering allowing your cat some outdoor time while keeping them safe, harness training is also an excellent option for some cats. Though please note, harness training is not suitable for all cats!

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Cat harness training in a backyard.

Don’t cats like to explore?

Solution: Sensory enrichment

Cats heavily rely on their five senses sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell to thrive outdoors and is an important part of cat communication and exploration. Therefore, it is important to provide ways at home that your cat can exercise these senses to prevent depression or boredom. Some examples of introducing sensory enrichment to your home can include using scents in toys to encourage play and exploration or pheromones to create a calming environment, lick mats, scratch posts, or mimic foraging with food puzzles.

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Cat sitting at a window.

To find out more ways to keep your cat happy and safe at home visit the website.