If you make your home an entertaining and comfortable environment for a cat, they will spend more time with you and so be a more rewarding pet. Here are some suggestions on how to stimulate and enrich a cat's indoor environment. Every cat is an individual so learn what your cat enjoys and give them more of it!
Choice – cats need more than enough of everything
Cats like choice, and being able to choose where they eat, sleep etc. is important to them. Make sure there is more than enough of everything.
- Scratching posts (see below)
- Beds – two beds per cat, one high one low, is a good idea
- Litter trays – one per cat plus one extra, placed in different locations
- Feeding stations and water bowls – have several throughout the house, with water bowls placed away from the food bowls, cats don't enjoy having them close together.
One scratching post is not enough! Get different textures like sisal, cardboard, carpet and wood will give pleasure. The more torn and ragged the surface, the better it is for your cat.
Posts with a carpet-lined hidey hole higher up are great as cats are particularly fond of being high up. For top cat points, position it so the cat can see out of the window (see below).
Cats need to scratch in different positions – at least one post should be upright and high enough for your cat to scratch at full height when standing on its hind legs, and then add other choices such as horizontal, wall mounted or flat scratch pads. If your cat needs encouragement and is sensitive to catnip, spray with catnip spray.
Cats like looking down on us! Ensure there are high places for your cat to access, like the top of bookcases or kitchen cupboards. Supply shelves to sit on at various heights, with different textures – fleece, carpet, rush matting. You can put little shelves that make steps up to a high large shelf, so they can leap up one by one. The surfaces must not be slippery. Aim for a vertical complexity.
Cats like to hide, particularly at times when they are worried by other cats or humans. Supply cardboard boxes and large paper bags (plastic ones aren't safe). Cut holes in the boxes for entrances and windows. Boxes are particularly good for cats that may want privacy from other household cats. They are also fun! Or just adapt an old cupboard to make individual sleeping places.
See if your cat wants to look out of the window. Window sills are great places for cats to sit or sleep. Provide sitting places on ledges and shelves with the best view i.e. with things going on like passers by, dogs, wildlife, other cats – as long as your cat isn't frightened by them. If your cat seems stressed (if their behaviour changes after watching out of a window) then block access to them. Make open windows and balconies safe using screens and vents.
From an original article by cat behaviourist Celia Haddon, with kind permission.