Deciding to keep your cat indoors happens for a variety of diffestrent reasons:
- Their behavior
- Their health
- Their environmental circumstances
And of course, your own preference.
Keeping your indoor cat happy, healthy and active can take a bit of patience, work and effort on your part.
Because cats are outdoor creatures by instinct, you will need to make some adjustments to your home and lifestyle to account for all the things your cat could be missing from playing outdoors.
Here’s the biggest thing…
It’s super important to allow your cat to exhibit the natural behaviors they would normally if they were outside.
Otherwise, you may be faced with some behavioral issues from your cat or they could become lethargic and even depressed.
I’ve buried myself in research this month to bring you 55 ways to keep your indoor cat happy and healthy.
START HEALTHY HABITS YOUNG
Starting a good routine with your new kitten (or a newly adopted, older cat as soon as you bring her home) is a great way to ensure your cat grows up with healthy habits and allows you to properly care for her.
What are some healthy habits to start with your cat?
Here’s a few…
- Brushing their teeth.
- Brushing their hair.
- Going for walks on a leash.
- Regulating meal times.
- Teaching them what areas (if any) of your home are off limits to them (like the kitchen table).
KEEP YOUR CAT UP TO DATE ON THEIR VACCINATIONS
This looks different for every cat because every cat has different needs.
Still, maintaining your cat’s check-ups and keeping her up to date on her vaccinations is extremely important to your cat’s happiness.
While there are some reasons that taking your pet to a vet can be a little daunting (stress for the cat, the cost, not living close to a vet clinic, etc.), making sure your pet is healthy is absolutely key to making sure she is happy and healthy.
I’ve also heard of vaccinating your cat at home.
This video below touches on the subject and how to buy vaccinations for your cat:
When it comes to vaccinations, there are what are referred to as “core vaccinations” and “non-core vaccinations“.
Let me explain…
“Core vaccinations” will protect your kitty against particularly common or dangerous diseases – these are recommended for all kittens and adult cats.
“Non core-vaccinations” are the ones that may not be recommended for all cats. These vaccines are usually for cats who could be at high risk of infection. Your cat’s lifestyle will be evaluated by your vet to determine what other vaccines she will need (example: outdoor cats may need some vaccines that your indoor kitty wouldn’t).
To learn more about cat vaccines (including schedules), check out this PetMd article.
MAINTAIN YOUR CAT’S ORAL HYGIENE (STARTING FROM A YOUNG AGE)
With dental disease being one of the most commonly faced issues by cats, caring for your pet’s gums and mouth is one of the most important things to do for cats.
Did you know that up to 70% of cats get some kind of oral disease by the shy age of three years old?
Brushing your cat’s teeth at home and going for regular (annual) dental cleanings at your local vet clinic are two great ways to make sure your cat’s mouth is in the best shape. Feeding your cat food that proves good for the gums and teeth, as well as using dental rinses and/or dental treats are also things you can do to help.
There are even toothbrush kits made for your cat!
Check out this video below on how to brush your cat’s teeth:
[Read more about caring for your cat’s teeth in our feline dental care post!]
MAKE LIVING INSIDE FUN & STIMULATING
While you’ve decided to have your cat live strictly indoors, it doesn’t mean her need for hunting, climbing, and chasing has vanished!
Cats need stimulation – they need to exercise their hunting, running and climbing skills.
And while the outdoors would ideally give your cat all the stimulation they need, it’s totally possible to let your cat keep up with her typical feline shenanigans while staying indoors.
You can consider all kinds of ways to stimulate your cat’s hunter senses:
- Hunting toys.
- Cat climbing trees.
- “Work for their food” toys.
- Build some wall mounted cat stairs.
- You can even rig up some kind of “cattery” so your cats can have access to sunshine and fresh air.
These tips and more ways for stimulating and entertaining your cat can be found in the video below!
BUILD YOUR CAT A SAFE OUTDOOR SPACE (LIKE A CATIO)
It’s totally fine if you want your cat to be an indoor cat (using indoor cat enclosures), but there are definitely some advantages to allowing your cat some time outside in the sun and fresh air.
Consider building or purchasing some kind of safe outdoor catio space for your fur babe to enjoy nature’s finest gifts:
- a cool breeze
There are a bunch of different ways to incorporate this idea for your cat in many different scenarios.
Here are a few ideas:
- catio for apartment balcony
- window catio
- backyard enclosures with tunnels
[To get you started: here are 14 amazing catio ideas]
Also check out our post on cat tunnels – there are a few outdoor cat tunnel ideas your cat will love!
Check out this cool cat’s groovy cat patio (catio):
GIVE YOUR CAT A TASTE OF THE OUTDOORS… INSIDE
Planting cat grass (or having cat-grass plants) somewhere in your home will give your feline friend the best of both worlds.
Your cat can experience a bit of the outdoors, but in a safe area without going outside.
When looking to add plants to your home, make sure these plants are cat-friendly.
There are a lot of different plants that are actually toxic to cats.
Ingesting these plants could lead to gastrointestinal problems, liver and heart failure and in some cases, death.
Some of the more common house plants that are toxic to cats include:
- Spanish thyme.
…and more (read the entire list here).
For more on dangerous houseplants (including what symptoms to look for if you think your cat has ingested one of these plants), watch the video below!
MICROCHIP YOUR INDOOR CAT
Microchipping your indoor cat may seem a bit odd to some, but it’s one of those investments you can make that will only ever benefit you!
How does a microchip work?
A microchip is essentially a small information chip, a radio frequency identification (RFID) device, that is inserted under your cat’s skin.
[Check out our microchipping post if like more information on getting a microchip for your cat!]
This chip contains an ID number with information about your cat (linking you and your cat together should they get lost/ your information will be on the chip).
Why does my indoor cat need a microchip?
While you may plan on only letting your cat roam outside supervised (or not at all), anything can happen… doors and windows can be left ajar or your cat can find some other way of getting out of the house.
It’s best to be sure!
Much like health or fire insurance for your home, a microchip ensures that if your cat gets lost, she could be safely returned home to you.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT KIND OF LITTER BOX FOR YOUR CAT(S)
Here’s the deal…
Not all cats will like the same type of litter boxes…
That’s why they make so many different ones.
This could lead to serious frustration for your cat, which they’ll undoubtedly let you know about (most likely in a not-very-nice way that could involve a “present” waiting on your bed or directly beside the box.)
Want to find the best litter box based on your cat’s personality? Click here!!
The video below is the system I’m using right now:
The system consists of:
- Breeze Litter System – this is the box
- Dog Training Pads XL 28in. by 34in. – you’ll remove the bottom piece like the video shows and lay the box on top
- PetMate Large Litter Pan – this is what the box above will be put into with the dog pad
- Feline Pine Non Clumping Litter – this is the 40 lb. bag
Adapting your home to fit your cat’s needs involves choosing the right kind of litter box for them.
My eldest cat will not go into a litter box with a lid.
I haven’t the slightest idea why.
Meanwhile, my youngest cat likes to dig so ferociously that half the litter ends up outside the box if there isn’t a lid.
This obviously is a bit of a problem, so we have one litter box with a lid and one without.
Adapting to both cats can be a bit of a challenge but it’s much better than the stinky alternative.
There are quite a few different types of litter boxes, but here are a few I’ve tried… get these below over at Amazon.
and a new one I just discovered and am really tempted to try…
🐾 The Top Entrance Litter Box
(if anyone tries this or has one, please let me know how you and your cat like it!!)
KEEP THE LITTER BOX CLEAN
Speaking of litter boxes…
Keeping a clean litter box is one of the best things you can do for your cat. Not only does it give her a clean place to do the doo, but it also prevents bad habits from forming.
According to this article from Pet Health Network, your litter boxes would ideally be cleaned our once a day. If that’s not possible for you, the minimum you should clean out your litter box is every other day.
The reasons behind cleaning your cat’s litter so often are:
- to prevent bad odors.
- to prevent your cat from “holding it” – which can lead to medical issues down the line.
- to prevent your cat from using your bed, bathroom or living room carpet as their litter box.
Scooping the litter regularly also gives you a heads up on any medical issues your cat may be having, as you may notice their urine smells differently or their poop isn’t quite the same as it was last week (these are key indicators of something wrong.)
HAVE MULTIPLE LITTER BOXES IF YOU HAVE MORE THAN ONE CAT IN HOUSE
Believe it or not, having even just two cats in your house means that you have more than one litter box.
Cats are fairly territorial animals, and sharing a box may not be on your cats’ wish-list.
She may let you know that in some pretty distinct ways…like using your bed for a litter box instead.
The video below offers an “equation” to calculate the number of boxes you should have in your home…
N + 1. (number of cats you have + one litter box)
GIVE YOUR CAT A GOOD VIEW
Allowing your cat to have a view of the outdoors goes a long way.
Watching birds, people, and other wildlife through a great big window is bound to entertain your cat. Think about setting up a few special places for them to lay that are near doors or windows.
Tip: make sure your windows are latched close!
Entertainment and a few rays of sunshine will keep your cat feeling happy and occupied.
One of the best ways to give your cat a good view is to install a cat perch just under a window with a nice view.
Check out the video below for an easy DIY cat perch tutorial!
GIVE YOUR CAT A FEW DIFFERENT AREAS IN YOUR HOME
Allowing your cat to have access to your whole house is a great thing, but sometimes a cat just wants to go to her own little space and have some alone time.
Some common places can include window perches, closets, under beds, on top of shelving, in shelving or even creating your cat’s own little “living room” under a staircase or in a space in your home that you aren’t using.
Giving your cat options will not only keep her from being bored, but it can also make her happier and more friendly.
If your cat has places she can retreat to when she’s feeling vulnerable or aggressive, she will feel safe to come back out and play when things have cooled off.
MAKE TIME FOR YOUR CAT
Schedule some time in your busy day to day life for some feline fun!
A lot of people have the misconception that cats are unlike dogs in many ways, and because of this, don’t need the companionship and one on one time that dogs will. This is totally wrong!
Although cats are a bit less of a pack animal mentality and are more solo hunter mentality, they still need affection, care, and companionship.
Scheduling time with your pet can be as easy as playing with a ball of yarn while you watch Game of Thrones. You can even spend time talking to your cat by understanding their language!
It’s recommended that you play with your cat a few times a day for about 5-10 minutes each time. This can also help them be less active at night time, which is much nicer for us sleeping humans.
It’s really important that when you’re ready to end your play time, you don’t just put down the toy and walk away. This can be really confusing and your cat will be all hyped up from your fun games.
Instead, slowly wind the game down by moving the toys slower or putting some of them away. Once your cat has settled down a little bit, you can remove the toys or walk away – she will understand then that the game is over for now.
Learn more about playing with your cat by reading this article!
MAKE SURE YOUR CAT HAS ENOUGH WATER
One of the best things you can do for your cat is to keep them hydrated (as hydration is key to preventing lots of diseases and keeping your cat feeling agile and happy).
It’s ideal to have a few water bowls sporadically around your home, as cats are known for drinking very little bits at a time.
It’s also key to pay attention to what kind of water your cat likes, and what kind of water she refuses.
Our cats (for example) refuse our tap water most of the time.
But as soon as I let them out, I see them drinking groundwater wherever they can find it.
So, we’ve taken to filling a few water bottles with water from our hose (groundwater) and using that inside as well. They drink this with no problems.
I have no idea what it is about the tap water they don’t like (maybe it’s TOO clean?) – but paying attention to their habits made us realize we needed to adapt.
FEED YOUR CAT A WELL-BALANCED DIET
I use the words “well-balanced” here because that really is the key.
I talked about it in a previous post, but the breakdown is that no specific one food (dry food, wet food, raw food, etc) will give your cat everything they need (no matter how much the bag claims that it will). Your cat needs a variety of different things, which can be given from a variety of different food sources.
For instance, wet food is great for cats that don’t drink enough water (as the water content is high) – but feeding your cat a strictly wet-food-diet isn’t recommended. Same with raw food – raw food is great for kitty’s teeth and gums, but might not give them everything they need.
If you’re confused (as most cat owners are) the best thing you can do is speak with your vet about what food combinations will help your pet the best given her medical history.
[If you’d like to know more about dry food, you can read our dry cat food post!]
[If you’d like to know more about wet food, check out our wet cat food post!]
MAKE AN EFFORT TO UNDERSTAND YOUR CAT’S MOODS
Cat language (or as we’ve referred to it before in our “cat slang” post...) can be tricky.
But getting to know your cat is one of your jobs as their human – so interacting and communicating with your cat and listening to what their body language is saying to you can go a long way.
Here are some of the key signs your cat is a happy cat:
- “cat kiss” (blinking their eyes slowly, this means they are comfortable).
- nudging you with their head.
- circling around your legs.
Here are some of the key signs of a distressed or angry cat:
- an arched back.
- claws are out.
- waging their tale quickly from side to side.
- pressing their ears down against their head.
ADOPT A FELINE FRIEND
While there are a lot of factors that go into bringing a new pet into your home, adding another friend into your cat’s life could be so much fun for them!
But here’s the thing…
Not every cat at every life stage will react well to a new pet in your home – and your job as “human” is to decide if your cat really needs a companion. And if so, how is the best way to introduce them?
Some of the things that could determine your pet’s sociability are:
- Age…(as cats grow older, they can become more isolated and territorial).
- History…(former street cats or cats who were separated too early from their mother are less inclined to take well to other pets in the home).
- Personality…(you know your cat best, and maybe you have that little voice in the back of your head that is telling you your kitty likely won’t be happy with another cat around).
If you need some help deciding if your cat would like a kitty friend, read our post on cat loneliness.
USE POSITIVE RE-ENFORCEMENT, NOT PUNISHMENTS
Cats are known for being quite stubborn and using positive re-enforcement definitely works well here.
What does positive enforcement mean?
Well, essentially this means rewarding behavior you like, NOT punishing behavior you don’t like.
You know the old adage “you can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar“? Well, this is the same theory. Your cat might be more inclined to listen and behave well if you use a positive technique rather than a negative one.
There are a few ways of doing this, so I’m going to quickly break down some things you should do and some things you shouldn’t do if you’re interested in positive re-enforcement training for your kitty cat.
- Reward your cat immediately when they do something you like.
Cats have shorter attention spans but good memories. They will grow to know that this is desired behavior.
- Reward your cat consistently for the same behaviors.
Like I said, cats have good memories and are impressionable when they are young. If you reward something once, be sure to keep rewarding that good behavior.
- Train at the proper times (and not for too long).
When it comes to teaching tricks and training with treats, the best time to train is right before meal time when they are most motivated by food. These training sessions should be no longer than 10 minutes or so.
- Punishments are not ideal and could actually stall your training progress.
When it comes to training your kitty, you may get frustrated and want to yell or punish them. You definitely don’t want your cat to associate training time with being scared, right?
- Don’t force them.
If you’re trying to get your cat to do something or go somewhere, don’t pick them up or force them into a motion. This will likely just frighten them and they won’t understand what you’re trying to do.
TEACH YOUR CAT NEW TRICKS (TRAINING)
Tricks aren’t just for dogs!
Giving your cat the ability to learn new things can actually benefit her and strengthen your relationship with your pet.
Like I said above, the best way to train your pet would be with positive re-enforcement training. Dog owners sometimes use clickers or toys, but with cats, it’s all about the food. Treats will motivate your cat and can be great tools in terms of training.
Check out this video below to see how this guy trained his two adorable cats to behave while he cooks and to shake paws before they sit down for dinner.
TRAVEL WITH YOUR CAT
Instead of booking your furry friend into a pet-sitter the next time you go on an adventure – why not take her with you?!
The first thing you need to do if you’re interested in traveling with your cat is to have ID tags and microchips on them.
This is super important because anything could happen and we don’t want to risk your cat being lost to you.
Second, you will want to find a carrier that they LOVE.
Personally, I recommend the SleepyPod pet bed that doubles as a pet carrier.
I like this one because it’s a normal bed which they can get used to, but then it has a dome enclosure that you can fasten to it that makes it into a carrier.
Third, you’ll want to take it little steps at a time.
Here are some guidelines for getting your cat travel-ready:
- Start with leash training.
Your cat will likely need to be comfortable with a harness and leash because while you’re traveling she will need to be taken out on walks or to the bathroom on a harness and leash.
- ID tags and microchip.
Like I said, anything can happen and to be totally safe, you need to make sure your cat can be traced back to you if she gets lost.
- Get your cat used to their carrier.
Set the carrier in your living room (or somewhere they find comfortable), lay some treats and toys around and in the carrier and let your kitty get used to it for a while.
This can take a few days to a week.
Once she’s started to go into the carrier, gently close the door while reassuring your cat. A few seconds later, open the door and let her know she can come out.
- Start small.
We don’t want to start our first trip with kitty by taking her on some 9-hour drive. You want to start by taking her around the block, then expanding from there. The more you go out with your cat, the more she will become accustomed to it.
HIRE A PET SITTER IF YOU’RE THINKING OF GOING AWAY FOR A LONG WEEKEND
We can’t travel with our cats all the time – sometimes there are those trips that are just for humans.
When that’s the case, hiring a pet sitter is totally worth it!
Even if it’s just your nephew who comes to play with the cats a few times a day (before and after school) – your cat will be thankful to have some company and you will be reassured your cat is safe and happy.
If you plan on going out for a long weekend, your cat will need fresh food and water – and some attention.
GIVE YOUR CAT FREEDOM TO CHOOSE THEIR HAPPY SPOT(S)
Happy spots can consist of your bedroom drawers, your bathroom cupboards, the linen closet…the list of strange places your cat likes to nap goes on and on.
Allowing your cat to choose (and switch up) her resting spots will keep her content and give her a sense of new every time she gets bored of the current spot she likes to sleep.
We try to do this as much as we can for our cats, often leaving drawers or closet doors open if we will be gone for the day. More often than not, we come home to find our cat happily buried in one of her new places.
If your cat likes hiding in bedroom closets or in your wardrobe, make sure the doors don’t shut on her!
CONSIDER KEEPING THE CAT LITTER IN A PRIVATE AREA
This is beneficial for both human and kitty cat.
Who else hates cat litter tracked all over the house? I’m sure I’m not alone!
This solves that problem.
You know who hates being spied on, disturbed or doing their business in a space that’s not private? Your cat.
This solves that problem too!
Keeping your cat litter in a low traffic, private area of your home is just best for everyone!
CHECK YOUR CAT FOR FLEAS (OR OTHER SKIN IRRITATIONS) OFTEN
It’s easy to ignore your cat scratching her neck a little bit more, or not to notice that she’s licking herself in the same spot more frequently. Skin irritations and fleas are really common problems in cats that can sometimes go unnoticed.
Your cat will likely try to alert you to her skin irritations and there are some signs that you can look for:
- If your cat is scratching a lot more than usual, this is a huge red flag and you should check her skin for cuts or irritants.
- If your cat is hiding more often, this is another sign that she is uncomfortable.
- If your cat has bumps or cuts on her skin, this could be from bug bites or from her scratching her bites.
So next time you’re curled up with your cat watching Grey’s Anatomy – just give her a once over during the commercial breaks, checking for any spots, lumps or bumps that seem concerning.
[If you want to read more about keeping your home (and cat) flea-free, read this post.]
LET YOUR CAT LISTEN TO MUSIC OR WATCH TV WITH YOU
Settling in for a Harry Potter marathon might be your idea of an amazing Saturday, and your cat will likely agree.
The television might be interesting to a cat who doesn’t have access to a lot of outdoor viewing areas.
If your home doesn’t have a lot of window space, TV can be a fine substitute for the entertainment your cat would get from looking out a window.
According to Dr. Orlando (a vet behavior resident at a North Carolina State University), cats who watch television will likely be attracted to the quick movements of objects on the screen.
The TV programs that will most likely stimulate your cat are ones that depict birds, fish, and rodents.
Not only is this perfect bonding time to snuggle, pet and play with your cat, but your cat may actually enjoy some of the movies too!
INCLUDE YOUR CAT IN FAMILY TRADITIONS
A friend of mine had her cat in her wedding photos, and I fell in love with the final shots.
She and her husband adore their cats and their eldest (now deceased) cat has been a part of their lives for so long.
Having her in their wedding photos is something this couple will never forget, and it makes for a lovely sentiment now that the cat has passed away.
Including your cat in family traditions or photos may seem a bit “crazy cat lady” but I firmly believe we all have that side to us, why not embrace it?!
There’s nothing wrong with showing love for your pets!
Your cat may look like she’s un-amused with your family’s loud Easter celebrations, but she’ll change her tone really quick when she finds out you’ve hidden special treats around the house for her, too!
Including your cat in your family traditions (and even family photos) is a great way to make her feel like part of the family and spoil her.
Have limited space in your house?
Here’s what you can do…
Now, you may not want to go as extreme as this house in the video below (or maybe you do, because this house looks like heaven to me)…
But check this out:
REPURPOSE OLD FURNITURE FOR THEIR USE
Okay, so this one also benefits both human and kitty cat.
Repurposing or re-using old furniture or shelves and setting them up to be something new for your cat both adds to their environment and makes you feel a little better about replacing it with something new.
If you’re crafty (or want to try something new), here are a few fun ideas for repurposing old furniture for your cat’s needs:
- Turning a Hutch into a cat litter box area (video below).
- DIY cat bed made from an old sweatshirt.
- Using old wood scraps to make a cat house.
Even if you’re not crafty, there are quite a few ideas that are so easy your cat could probably do them herself…
- Creating a cat tent using a box and an old t-shirt.
- No sewing required to make this cat bed from an old sweatshirt.
GIVING YOUR CAT A FRIEND
While getting another pet is a decision you shouldn’t take lightly, chances are your indoor cat might love the company.
If you’re ready for another pet, that’s great!!
If you’re not sure you’re ready for another cat in your home, there are a few other ways you can give your cat feline companionship…
There are tons of pet-sitting agencies and online posts looking for cat-sitters – why not give it a try and see how your cat interacts with other cats for a short-term period?
Cat boarding is one of those things that benefits everyone – it helps you, your cat gets to spend some time with another cat, you help the cat in need waiting to be adopted AND you get to see cute cats!
- Pet play dates.
If your cat is familiarized with traveling and you have a friend who has a cat you think might get along with yours, why not set up a little play date and see how it goes? This is a great test to see how your pet will interact with others.
GIVE YOUR CAT SOME HIDING SPOTS
One of the things your cat might be missing from an outdoor life is the ability to hide in bushes or under trees.
Cats really like their alone time, and in a house (especially a house with kids, other pets, etc) that can be really hard to find.
Giving your cat the ability to choose from a few different hiding spots in your home will give her the chance to retreat when she needs to and will ultimately make her happier because she has the choice between her hiding spot(s) and being around you.
If you can’t find your cat and call her a few times with no answer, it’s likely that she needs her alone time and is in one of her cozy hiding spots (or is asleep and can’t/doesn’t want to move). I think most of the time with my eldest cat, it’s the latter.
GIVE YOUR CAT A WAY TO MAINTAIN HER CLAWS
While having your cat declawed is a personal choice, I won’t be shy about admitting I am against the procedure. Even if your cat is never going to set foot outside, I don’t believe cats should have to live without their claws and it’s a part of their body that serves a purpose and makes them the type of animal they are.
The best way you can give your cat a chance to maintain her claws is to give her certain areas that she is allowed to scratch.
This can be a scratching post, an old chair…really anything you’re okay with her using as a scratching area.
When your cat is scratching in an area you don’t want her to be scratching, try to refrain from using negative re-enforcement with her because this is a natural urge that just needs to be redirected towards something she is allowed to scratch.
BRUSH YOUR CAT’S HAIR
Brushing your cat’s hair might seem a bit mundane (and in the beginning, she may not take lightly to it) but it’s really for her happiness.
Having matted or unkept fur can be uncomfortable, itchy and just generally not much fun for your kitty cat.
How do I get my cat to like having her hair brushed?
- Choose a quiet time.
When it’s almost midnight and your cat is bouncing off the walls, running around with string in her mouth and trying to get you to play with her…that is the perfect example of the worst time to try to brush her hair.
- Make sure you are using the right kind of cat brush.
- Start gently.
If your cat’s hair is matted, you may want to just jump right in there and untangle that jungle…but I promise, your cat will hate this. She needs to get used to it, so slow and steady does it best.
- Give treats.
Rewards in the form of tasty bite-sized bits…is there really anything your cat wants more? Giving treats and talking in a happy and calm voice to your cat is a great way to let her know that brushing time is a happy time!
TAKE YOUR CAT TO THE GROOMERS
Like I said, having your cat’s fur get matted, dirty or unkept will end up being a negative thing for both of you (because eventually, you will have to address it and if it’s gotten really bad, that can be a total disaster).
Taking your cat to be groomed at a salon can be a fun way to pamper her.
She might be a little afraid of the car ride or the strangers, but in the end, she will be feeling healthy, soft and happy.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CAT
I mentioned in one of the above points that listening to your cat’s needs is very important – but what I didn’t mention was that communicating back to your cat is also important!
I remember the first time I saw my husband blink his eyes at our cat, I giggled and asked what he was doing. He said, “watch”.
He did it again, and sure enough, our eldest cat blinked her eyes in return. The first time I thought it could be coincidence, but when it kept happening (when I did it, as well), I started to look more into it.
And this is 100% real. This is a real cat sign of affection and comfort known as the cat kiss.
Understanding your cat’s language can be difficult, but there are so many ways of communicating with your pets and you might just be amazed at how strong your bond is after you open up that dialog.
Check out this video for some great tips (and cute animations) on how to understand your cat’s language.
GIVE YOUR CAT NICE TOYS
Giving your cat toys is one of the best ways to reward and occupy her.
There are toys you can use to play with your cat:
- Good old fish-pole toys.
These are toys that come on a stick and allow you to control the play!
Dogs aren’t the only ones who like to play fetch, you know!
This game can be played with an old cardboard box you’ve cut holes in. Sticking your finger in and out of the holes and watching your cat try to capture you is endless fun!
And there are some toys you can use to occupy your cat while you’re away:
- Mechanical toys.
These gadgets do the work for you so you can leave your cat entertained while you’re out of the house!
- Ball of yarn.
What cat sees a ball of yarn and thinks “no thanks.”? Cat’s love yarn! She’ll be entertained for hours!
- Cat trees and caves.
Giving your cat ways to explore is one of the best ways to entertain her without having to be there playing with her yourself. One of the most fun things to do is to hide some fun treats or toys around her cat tree or house and she’ll have fun “hunting” and playing while you’re away!
CHANGE UP HER TOYS EVERY WEEK
I know you love your cat, but don’t buy her a bunch of toys and give them to her all at once.
If you’re wondering why she’s suddenly disinterested or bored with them, it could be a variety of reasons but most likely it’s because she is either overwhelmed by the toys or that she is bored of the toys.
Changing up your cat’s toys every week or two can really help bring some excitement to your kitty’s life.
For us, we keep about 4 toys out for our two cats, and we put those away and bring out new ones every Monday.
It’s a little thing (I simply go to their cat toy box and get new ones), but it makes a world of difference – sometimes it’s like they’ve never seen those toys before (even though they’ve played with them before).
GIVE YOUR CAT A NICE BREATH OF FRESH AIR WHEN YOU CAN
Opening the windows in your home might be better for something other than airing out the cat litter smell.
Giving your cat a chance to lay next to an open window lets her experience the cool breeze and sounds of nature that she would normally enjoy outside.
Making sure your cat cannot fall or jump from the window, maybe lay a nice bed or create your cat’s very own window perch so she can relax and enjoy it!
Check out this Buzzfeed video on how to make this super easy (and cute) window perch for your feline friend.
FEED YOUR CAT A DIET THAT IS TAILORED TO HER NEEDS
I mentioned above that feeding your cat a balanced diet is important – but sometimes you need some expert advice on what your cat needs based on her age, weight and other medical conditions.
My best suggestion would be to ask your vet after every check up if there is anything specific you should be doing with your cat’s diet. Letting your vet in on your cat’s regular diet will give them a better insight into their overall health and they may be able to give advice that is well-suited for your cat.
The world of cat food is a big one to immerse yourself into…you’ve got wet food, dry food, and raw meat diets…or a combination of all three.
If you’re looking for information on wet cat food brands, check out our cat food comparison post!
You can also read my “diving into the world of cat food” post here.
FIGURE OUT WHAT KIND OF FEEDING ROUTINE WORKS BEST FOR YOUR CAT(S)
Some houses have scheduled meal times, some houses have food bowls that are full most of the time for your cat to graze whenever they are hungry.
Figuring out a system that works well for your cat can be a bit tricky, especially if there are multiple cats in one home.
For example, our cat Tessa is one of those cats who can just graze her food bowl whenever she feels the need.
Meanwhile, our youngest, Lucy, she will just eat until the bowl is empty – most of the time ending in her returning some of the food in a not-so-nice manner.
So here’s the thing…
Not every cat will be the same, and tailoring your feeding routine to each of your cats will take some practice, but I promise it’s what’s best for them.
GIVE YOUR CAT A WORKOUT
A big part of keeping your indoor cat healthy means finding ways for them to get the exercise they would normally get outside, in your home.
From chasing a laser pointer to playing fetch, there are lots of ways for your cat to stay active inside.
Check out some of the tips below:
- The Laser Pen.
Everyone knows this one. You point a laser pen (or a flashlight) at a wall or floor and your cat chases it.
It’s fun for them, and something that takes little effort on your part.
- Let’s Play Fetch!
Fetch isn’t just for dogs, you know. Our cat Lucy loves when we throw her toys across the room.
Sometimes she brings them back and sometimes she doesn’t, but it’s always fun for her regardless. We even do this with treats, we throw them and she chases them.
- Treadmill Time?
Okay so this one is a bit unorthodox but I swear, people do it.
Putting your treadmill at a very slow pace and letting your pet walk on can actually be fun for them. (Supervised, of course!)
Or, if you’re really interested in taking your cat workouts to the next level, check out the Cat Exercise Wheel!!
CONSIDER SPAYING / NEUTERING YOUR CAT
While I am still on the fence about how I feel about this topic, once our younger cat Lucy reached about 7 months of age, she became unbearable to live with.
At this point, she was a mostly indoor cat but had been outside a few times both on and off leash.
It got to the point where we couldn’t let her out for fear of her running away (seeking a male cat’s attention). We could tell she was uncomfortable and annoyed that we weren’t letting her go where her needs were telling her to go.
It’s a tricky situation and I won’t advise for or against it – but having your indoor cat spayed or neutered may make their life more pleasant if they are living inside. It’s worth discussing with your family and local vet to see if it’s the right move for your cat.
To read more about neutering your male cats, read this post.
GET PET INSURANCE
Having pet insurance is (again) one of those things that benefit both human and kitty cat.
Having insurance puts your mind at rest and would likely make you more comfortable taking your cat in for a checkup more often than you normally would.
For cats, there are four main types of insurance protection:
- Accident-only insurance.
This would cover accidents with your cat, but would not cover illnesses or medical issues that your cat is diagnosed with.
- Time-limited insurance.
This usually protects anything that happens to your cat within the time-span of your contract with the insurance agency.
- Maximum-benefit insurance.
This would cover the maximum amount of any illnesses or accidents per condition.
- Lifetime insurance.
This is blanket coverage for any illnesses, conditions or accidents that happen in your cats lifetime.
This is a super-simplified outline of the main types of protection you can get from insurance policies. Most of the time, the company you have your health, life or home insurance with will do pet insurance too.
KEEP YOUR CAT COZY AND WARM
Cats (like other animals) are able to grow their fur a bit thicker when the cold weather hits, but this isn’t the only thing they need to stay warm.
Have you ever noticed your cat loves lounging around in patches of sunshine (even in the summer?)
Cats need heat, so keep your home at a proper temperature.
Another thing to keep in mind is letting your cat sleep in warm places (like next to a radiator, furnace or fireplace) and having warm things for them to lay on (like cat beds, clothing, pillows or in baskets.)
TAKE YOUR CAT INTO CONSIDERATION WHEN MAKING BIG CHANGES TO YOUR HOME
At some point (or at many points, if you’re like me and love changing things up) you will need to move furniture, introduce new pets or people and maybe make some other big changes to your home.
Here are a few situations where you may need to take some extra care for your cat:
- Preparing your cat for a new addition to the family.
Whether it’s a new baby or a new puppy, there are some guidelines you should follow when it comes to introducing your cat to new things.
- Buying new furniture, moving furniture.
While this may seem like a minimal change to you, this could drastically alter your cat’s life.
One of the ways you can prepare your cat for this change is to make little changes where you can, and be gentle with your cat if they become disobedient or anxious about the changes.
- Try to keep their hiding spots the same.
With all the changes, your cat may be feeling a little threatened and may need a place to retreat to. Make sure her normal hiding spaces stay the same so they have a safe place to go when they need to retreat.
SEPARATE YOUR CAT’S FOOD FROM THEIR WATER
Keeping your pet’s food and water apart has quite a few benefits.
Did you know that cat’s like to get their water from a different source than their food?
It also helps keep the little food pieces from getting into the water bowls (I can’t be the only one whose cats like to drag food around the house!)
What I found really interesting when researching about this one, is the reasoning behind why your cat could be turning down water that’s close to its food source.
Instinctively, your cat won’t want to drink water that’s next to their food (or prey) because they think it could potentially be contaminated.
Think about it…
If a cat has just killed a mouse and finds water near that prey they just killed, it makes sense for the cat to think “this water could be contaminated because of this animal I killed.”
Cat’s are smart! So, if you notice your cat refusing water from their bowl, try moving it to a different area and see what happens!
LET YOUR CAT SLEEP IN YOUR BED WITH YOU
Letting your cat sleep in the bed with you can strengthen your bond…or show you how strong your bond actually is!
Sleeping is a naturally vulnerable state, and if your cat is one of those “curl up right next to you in bed” cats, chances are that’s a great sign of your bond and comfort levels!
But can sleeping in the same bed as your cat actually benefit you both? Of course!
Not only is it adorable and gives you all those warm and fuzzy feelings, it can provide stress relief and reassurance that your cat isn’t getting into mischief in the middle of the night.
Some cats love getting right under the covers to go to bed, and others prefer to lay at your head or at your feed – either way, sleeping in the same bed as your cat is a true sign of affection!
GIVE A TREAT OF CATNIP
Cats love catnip (along with other cat-friendly plants as mentioned in one of the above points).
Giving your cat toys that have catnip concealed in them is a great way to reward or treat your cat.
When you do give catnip, the most important thing is to not give too much.
If your cat seems irritable or on edge when they smell catnip, chances are your cat isn’t one of those catnip-happy kitties.
Did you know…
The effect catnip has on your kitty will differ if she ingests it or sniffs it!
Ingestion of catnip can give sedative effects while sniffing it gives the opposite stimulating effect. (Who knew!?)
Check out this interesting PetMD video on some things you might not know about catnip!
DIVE INTO THE WORLD OF CAT MUSIC
There’s music just for cats?! Is that crazy or cool…I’m not sure yet.
Let’s talk about this more…
Described in the video below as “science’s way of spoiling kitties”, music for cats is basically the idea of playing sounds that cats respond to that could elicit feline feelings based on the tones of those sounds.
David Teie (the inventor of species-specific music) narrates this video explaining how music can be made for cats, how it is scientifically backed up and how cats respond to his musical creations.
Remember that whole experiment where plants were grown better when they listened to classical music? This is kind of the same idea, but for cats.
Given the influence music has on plants and humans, I really think there is something to this idea as well.
This whole idea is so interesting, and I’d love to dive into this for a bigger post…stay tuned!
The verdict is in…cat music is cool! Learn more about cat music in the video below!
DO YOUR RESEARCH
If you’re reading this post, you’re doing it right! (And thank you for sticking with me this far!)
Doing research on your pets allow you to dive into their world and really get to know what they need.
Research on health issues, breed behavior and indoor cat needs (wink, wink) can help you be a better pet-parent!
Every cat is different and nothing compares to the advice of a vet, but with the internet at your fingertips (literally), you can learn everything you need to know about having healthy and happy cats.
CAT-PROOF WHERE YOU CAN
Cat-proofing your home may make you think of things like getting a litter box, some toys, and a bed.
Your home could pose some dangers to your cat, and here are a few ways you can cat-proof your home:
- Unplug when you’re not using power sources.
Unplugging power bars and extension cords can protect your cat from harm if they decide to try to chew on them while you’re sleeping.
- Be aware of what plants are in your home and make sure they aren’t toxic to cats (I mentioned above which plants are toxic to cats, scroll back up!)
- Make sure your cat can’t get stuck somewhere.
While your cat might think it’s a good idea to wedge herself behind your washing machine, it’s best to just not make that possible because that seems like a recipe for disaster.
- Make sure windows and doors are closed.
BE CAREFUL OF YOUR CAT’S WHISKERS
Did you know that whiskers help a cat determine direction, distance, and texture? Did you also know that a cat’s whiskers are able to detect even the smallest change in direction of the wind? That’s crazy!
Caring for your cat’s whiskers is more of a “be careful of them” kind of thing. While there isn’t much actual maintenance of the whiskers involved, being sure not to harm your cat’s whiskers is a must.
Basically, leaving them alone is the best way you can care for your cat’s whiskers.
Cutting, trimming or grooming a cat’s whiskers is a huge no-no!
What if my cat loses a whisker?
Don’t worry, they shed and grow back naturally much like our hair – so the best thing you can do is just to leave them be.
To read more on cat whiskers, check out this post.
KEEP YOUR HOUSE FREE OF CAT URINE ODORS
Keeping your house free from cat urine odors isn’t just something you want, it’s something your cat may need!
If your cat is constantly surrounded by urine odors throughout your home, they may become confused about where to do their business – or you may find their business scattered throughout the house as a sign of protest.
Getting out cat urine stains and the odor isn’t easy, though!
Especially when it comes to carpet, linens, and furniture.
Using a pet-friendly odor remover (and maybe steam cleaning those carpets once a year) can get rid of the odors!
I find that it’s really helpful (if you have carpet areas that are causing odors) to do a steam clean of it as well. This will likely bring the odor into the air again (adding heat to odors does that), but it’ll also lift the odor out of the fabric so it’s easier to treat.
BATHE YOUR CAT IF SHE CAN’T GET HERSELF CLEAN
Bathing your cat in the tub or sink might seem like a nightmare to you (and to her), but sometimes it’s needed. If your cat has a particularly difficult dirty patch of fur or some mats that need the gentle care of a de-tangling shampoo for pets – you’re on!
Generally, indoor cats could easily handle baths by their humans twice a year or so. While it may seem like a struggle, if the mats or dirt in her fur is bothersome to her, she will feel much better afterward!
Some tips on bathing your cat:
- Plan the bath when your cat is in her “down time” and feeling mellow.
- Brush your cat BEFORE and AFTER her bath.
Before, so you can get the mats and dirt out as best you can, and after so new mats don’t form.
- You can place some cotton in your cat’s ears to protect them, or be hyper-aware of this area.
- Avoid pouring water directly onto their face!
To wash their face area, use a damp cloth and no shampoo, as cats can clean that area really well themselves.
- It might be a good idea to have a plastic bath mat so your can doesn’t slip around.
- Gently massage your cat with a pet-friendly shampoo, mixed with water.
(Usually 1 part shampoo to 5 parts water).
- Thoroughly rinse the shampoo, really making sure it’s completely gone.
You can do this by seeing when the water that runs out is clear, not soapy.
- Dry your cat really, really well, but try to avoid hairdryers and other dryer machines unless they are specifically for pets (even in which case, she will likely be terrified of the noise).
- Reward your kitty cat because she did an amazing job!
TELL YOUR CAT YOU LOVE THEM
Or show them!
By doing the things on this list, by praising your cat when she does good things and by giving her the best diet and exercise possible – you can really show your cat that you care for them.
I personally love telling my cats “I love you” when I give them treats or food, so much so that they know this is a good thing. If I say those 3 magic words, they know they are about to get something really good!
Associating words with rewards for your cat (like “I love you“, “good girl” or “well done“) is a great way to teach your cat the feelings behind those words.
I hope you enjoyed reading about all the fun ways you can keep your indoor cat happy, healthy and playful!
Let me know in the comments below how you show your cat you love them!