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Make Your Indoor Cat a Happier Cat

Indoor Cat

If you are a cat lover and a cat owner, you probably chose cats over dogs because they are “low maintenance.” You don’t have to take cats on walks, or walk behind them with a “poop bag” to pick up after them. You can go off on a weekend trip and safely leave an indoor cat alone in the house. But as much as cat owners love the fact that our indoor cats are basically self-sufficient, we still want them to be happy.

Most owners of indoor cats worry about their cats getting bored. You can buy them toys and play with them every day, but still you worry that an indoor cat’s world is so small that it will not always be a happy cat. Here are a few ideas that indoor cat owners might want to try to spice up the life of their favorite feline companion.

Let’s go outside Yes, I know, we keep our cats indoors because we want them to be safe. But we wonder (don’t tell me you haven’t) if our indoor cats can truly be happy when they never get to go outside. We plant grass for them inside, we buy cat toys in the shape of animals that they might hunt if they got to go outdoors. We leave windows open for our feline friends. We do just about everything we can to give them a taste of the outdoors. So why not just take the next step and take them outside? In most situations, you can find a way to take your indoor cat outside and still keep them safe. Start with just a few minutes at a time. If, after a few times, you find that your indoor cat has no interest in going outside, well then, you’ve done your duty! But in most cases, indoor cats seem to really enjoy the outdoors. Some enjoy just lying in the cool grass, while others enjoy wandering around sniffing all the outdoor smells.

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There are several portable enclosure products on the market, which allow you to take your indoor cat outdoors for a special treat. One brand, “Kittywalk” products, can be found at many pet supply websites, such as the Drs. Foster and Smith website. These enclosures are also great for apartment dwellers, as they fit nicely on a patio balcony. You might also find them at a reduced price on ebay or similar sites.

For the more serious-minded cat lover, there now is even a catproof fence that can be installed in an area of your yard, which they claim is “Houdini-proof” and therefore, cat escape-proof as well. Check it out at Purr-fect Fence.

And last, but by no means least, there is also the low-tech and simple option of taking your indoor cats outside on a “tie-out”. Buy a good figure 8 harness for your cat, a 10 foot leash, and a tie-out stake. Our cats LOVE this option (see the picture)! Our cats know (yes, you can train a cat!) that when we open the back door and start taking their leashes down, they are going to get to go outside. They come and sit patiently by the door while we put their leashes on them. When you are first getting indoor cats accustomed to going outside on occasion, you need to watch them carefully, as they may get excited and dart outside whenever a door opens. But they will soon learn to recognize the clues that will tell them they are going to get to go outside.

In all cases, I would recommend that you not leave an indoor cat unattended outside. You never know when a stray dog (or even a mischievous little child) could come by. Take them out when you are going to be outside yourself, working in the garden, or when you want to go outside and enjoy a little time on your patio or in the back yard.

Hide and go seek.
Cats love treats and they love to hunt, so why not combine these two loves? When you are giving a treat to your cat, shake out a few extra pieces and put them in your pocket. As you go about your routine, occasionally place them around the house in areas where your cat will find them – a favorite window sill, a corner of their cat tree. This is much more exciting to a cat than being handed a treat straight from a bag each time, although they will, of course, take their treats any way they can get them!

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Laser Pointers. This favorite dog toy is also great for indoor cats. In fact, they probably enjoy it more than dogs! Once again, it is the thrill of the hunt. If you have an acrobatic cat, they may actually bounce off walls in pursuit of these little red dots of light. They are available at most pet stores. Use care when purchasing a laser pointer. Even those sold in pet stores carry warning labels about not shining the light into an animal’s eyes, but those who are designed for other purposes besides pet toys can be very dangerous in this regard.

Other ideas. Read some of the articles below for other ideas on ways to pamper your little indoor cat buddy.

Pampering Your Pet Cat
by Aimee Kemp

How to Make a Homemade Cat Condo
by Kassidy Emmerson

Our cats give us a great deal of affection, and make our lives much happier. Let’s return the favor.