Cats are notoriously finicky creatures, and some days, you may feel as if you are struggling to please your feline overlord. However, by making a few changes at home to improve your cat’s environment and upgrade their entertainment, your cat can be quite content. After all, being a house cat can become boring when they do not have activities and furniture that caters adequately to their instinctual needs. Read our Belmont Animal Hospital team’s tips on keeping your indoor cat happy and healthy.
#1: Ditch your cat’s food dish
Despite centuries of domestication, cats have natural hunting instincts, which they do not satisfy by lying in wait for a refilled food dish, or pouncing on the hand that feeds them. In addition, they can become obese when food is always availabe, so ditch your cat’s food dish, and give them a food puzzle, which encourages them to figure out how to access their food, helping fulfill their natural hunting need. Food puzzles can also help with food portions, because many cats tend to graze, eating several small meals per day, rather than one or two large ones. Food puzzles are available at pet stores and online, or you can make a puzzle from common household items. With a food puzzle, your cat is sure to enjoy hunting for their meals.
#2: Provide your cat with plenty of opportunities to scratch
Cats scratch for many reasons—nail care, stretching, scent marking, and more—and when your cat does not have appropriate items to scratch, they will find their own—usually furniture and curtains. So, ensure your cat has plenty of appropriate items to scratch, and place them next to the household goods they should not scratch. Most cats prefer sharpening their claws on sisal material, but your cat may enjoy cardboard, carpet squares, or wood. Offer your cat a choice of scratching materials, and arrange them in various positions to ensure each scratching post or board is long enough for your cat to fully stretch out, positioning some horizontally and some vertically.
#3: Ensure your cat has a clean litter box
Many cats are particular about the cleanliness of their litter boxes, and may refuse to use them if they are not up to snuff. Scoop your cat’s boxes twice per day, and sanitize them weekly. Provide one box per household cat, plus an extra box—so, if you have three cats, you should have at least four litter boxes. Keep the boxes well spaced to prevent resource guarding or bullying, and ensure the boxes are away from high-traffic and noisy locations, such as close to the washer and dryer. If your cat is stressed or unhappy about a dirty litter box, they may refuse to use it, and urinate on your duvet, rugs, or laundry piles.
#4: Give your cat places to hide and climb
In addition to hunting and scratching, cats have a need to climb and hide. As a predator and prey species, cats yearn to climb and hide to safely survey their territory for their next meal or threat. Attach cat shelves to your walls, position climbing towers in each room, and hang cat hammocks in windows. Many cat towers are multifunctional, providing scratching surfaces, climbing posts, and hideouts. Place a cozy bed in your cat’s hiding spots, and you may be hard-pressed to find them during afternoon nap time.
#5: Keep your cat happy and healthy with regular preventive care
You may be unaware your cat’s health is poor, or that they are unhappy, because cats are highly skilled at hiding health issues, and a medical problem can become advanced before your cat shows obvious discomfort signs. Regularly schedule preventive care exams so our Belmont Animal Hospital veterinarians can routinely perform a thorough physical exam, diagnostic screening tests, and vaccinations, and prescribe parasite prevention, to ensure your furry feline friend lives a long, happy, and healthy life.
By following our tips, you can prevent your bored cat from becoming stressed, which increases their risk for health and behavior issues. If your cat begins urinating outside their litter box, hiding, or displaying other behavioral changes, schedule an appointment with our Belmont Animal Hospital team for guidance on making your home more feline-friendly, and helping your cat feel purr-fectly content.