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4 ways to increase your indoor-only cat's happiness and health

Finding ways to keep your indoor-only cat stimulated will help keep him happy and healthy.
Finding ways to keep your indoor-only cat stimulated will help keep him happy and healthy.
Eve-Angeline Mitchell

We all know that cats need lots of stimulation to stay happy and healthy. If your cat is an indoor-only cat, the right types of stimulation may be hard to come by. You might have some toys and window perches, and maybe you have some shelves or KatWallks in your house. If these don't seem to be working, or you think you can do better, then perhaps you should narrow down the toys your cat likes, and find some other things that could help as well.

Do you know what types of toys your cat likes to play with the most? Does he like to chase things on the floor, like mice, or jump after things in the air and on the walls, like bugs or birds? The best toy for your cat is the toy that will speak to what type of prey he'd prefer to chase in the wild, according to Petplace. Petplace's advice on how to determine which toys are best is simply to buy several types of toys, and play with your cat with each one. Do this for several days. His level of interest will show you which toys are best for him.

Another way to enrich his environment is to give him scratching posts and perches, particularly near windows so he can see out. Choose posts that have different scratching surfaces, like a combination of carpet and sisal rope. The carpet can give him soft, comfortable places to lounge, nap, or watch outside, and the sisal rope gives him a good, durable scratching surface.

A different article on Petplace talks about how to pick out great scratching pieces for your cat. They note that sisal rope is cheaper and more durable than carpet, and that it appeals to cats more than carpet does, too. Good scratching posts with different surfaces will help to satisfy your cat's need to scratch, which keeps him more fulfilled, and it will also give him comfy perches. What you choose (scratching pad, post, tree, condo, or playground) depends on your space and budget. Click here for more details on each type of scratching piece, and to get an idea of what would fit your cat and your household.

You could also try having cat grass and catnip plants in the house. About half of cats are susceptible to catnip, according to PetMD. One chemical in catnip, called nepetalactone, acts as a stimulant and produces the "high" that we see when cats start rubbing all over catnip toys. Catnip is also safe for your cat to eat (although too much may make him vomit and have diarrhea), so you can have it out and within your cat's reach.

Cat grass is good because cats eat grass to help them rid their bellies of indigestible material, such as fur and feathers. Even if your cat never has any exposure to feathers, he does get fur in his tummy. The grass can help him to eliminate it.

Having these two plants around might keep your cat from chewing your other plants to smithereens. You can grow some yourself, or buy it from your local pet store. Just remember to put it out of reach occasionally, so that it has a chance to regrow after your cat eats some of it.

Finally, schedule playtime with him. Dedicate 10 to 15 minutes of playtime for him twice a day, every day, in addition to cuddle time. Both of these are great ways to interact with your cat, and help him to both get exercise, and relax. This interaction is important not just to stimulate him, but also to strengthen and reinforce your bond with him.

All of this is especially important if your cat is an indoor-only cat, and stuck in the same monotonous environment day after day. Your job as his person is to make his environment as fun and stimulating as possible for him. He'll be happier and healthier for it.

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