Cats were born to move. Running, leaping, hunting, and climbing are just some of the many remarkable qualities that our feline companions possess, along with excellent vision, hearing, and a superb sense of smell. The cats of yesterday mainly lived outdoors and used their unique skills to interact with their environments through hunting and stalking prey, defending their territories, and seeking out mates.
Although most domesticated cats nowadays live indoors (something we always recommend for their safety and health), those feline instincts are still urging them to follow in the footsteps of their feline forefathers.
Boredom in indoor cats can spell big problems for them and you, and that is never more evident than during the holidays, when Christmas trees and other decorative items can become your cat’s indoor playground.
Beating Boredom in Indoor Cats
The benefits of providing an exciting and enriching environment for your cat are far reaching. Not only will kitty burn calories and stay physically fit, he or she will also feel more confident and experience less stress.
Fortunately, creating outlets for your cat’s natural instincts doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, and you are only limited by your imagination. Try these ideas for starters:
- Vertical space – Cats love to climb, and most cats prefer a high perch where they can watch the world go by. Provide your cat with safe places to climb, such as a cat tree, catwalks, or simply clear out a high shelf.
- Meals – It’s in your cat’s DNA to hunt for his or her food, so engage this instinct with store-bought or homemade food puzzles. Similarly, you can give your cat the chance to “hunt” by hiding or scattering pieces of kibble throughout the home.
- Playtime – Playing with and watching cats play is one of the great joys of cat ownership. Experiment with various cat toys (feather chasers, laser pointers, catnip mice), or come up with free entertainment using safe items you have in your home, such as paper bags, crumpled up paper, and cardboard boxes.
- Greenery – Cats enjoy nibbling on greenery, but this can spell disaster if kitty gets into a poisonous houseplant. Plant a few pots of cat grass or other cat-friendly greenery for kitty to munch on, making sure to avoid lilies and other plants that are toxic to cats.
- Viewing pleasure – Give kitty something interesting to watch by placing a perch near a window. Add a birdfeeder or two near the window to bring neighborhood birds and squirrels in for easy viewing. If your cat enjoys watching animals on TV, consider purchasing a specialty cat DVD, full of birds and small mammals for your cat to chatter at and track on the screen.
About that Tree…
A beautiful Christmas tree displayed in your living room inspires feelings of holiday warmth and nostalgia for us humans. Unfortunately, your cat likely thinks you have just given him or her the ultimate gift: a “cat tree”, full of sparkly toys just ready to be played with!
Take the following precautions to keep your cat, and your tree, safe:
- Location – The first step in cat-proofing a tree is to choose the right spot. If possible, situate the tree in a corner, making sure to remove any furniture or shelving your cat can use to springboard into the tree.
- Safety – Anchor or secure the tree to prevent it from toppling over if your cat climbs it, and remove breakable ornaments or place them on higher branches. Keep kitty from chewing on pine needles and drinking water from the reservoir, both of which can be toxic if ingested.
- Enrich! – Take the time and energy to provide plenty of environmental enrichment for your cat, and he or she may ignore the tree altogether!