Open Menu Close Menu Open Search Close Search Open Directory Close Directory
COVID-19 Guidance: Guidance and operational updates for Cummings School and its veterinary teaching hospitals

Enriching Your Cat’s Environment

We Are All Indoor Cats Now

Thanks to the coronavirus, many of us have a much better understanding of what it is like to be an indoor cat. When we found ourselves suddenly confined to home, there was an explosion of sewing, remodeling, Netflix binge-watching, bread baking, video making, and many other human forms enrichment. Treadmills and stationary bikes came out of mothballs and empty streets filled with walkers and runners as we sought ways to exercise.

Cats, too, need species-appropriate enrichment and activity. Free-roaming cats spend the bulk of their days patrolling their territories, making their (urine) marks on the feline world, and hunting for small animals. However, there is no need to open the doors and let your cat out into the world of cars and coyotes. With a little work and a lot of thoughtfulness, the indoor environment can be wonderfully enriched for your feline family.

The most successfully enriched environment allows a cat to do everything it would do outside.

Cats like high places, so provide cat trees, cat shelves, and high catwalks.

Feed your cat’s predatory dreams by putting a bird feeder in front of a favorite window seat. Let your cats hunt and play with their dinner by distributing food in foraging feeders and puzzle toys such as the Pipolino, the No Bowlz forage feeder, or the cups of an egg carton.

Place paper bags or boxes in new places around the house every few days so your cat has new territory to explore. Hide some catnip or food inside the boxes or bags for a special surprise.

Pick up most of the toys that are no longer played with. Leave out a few toys each day and rotate them so they remain interesting. Set aside time every day for predatory play with a ball, fishing toy, or cat dancer.

How about supervised outdoor time? Train your kitten to enjoy leash walks in the tall grass or leash rests in the sun and fresh air. Catios—screen-covered enclosures where cats can enjoy the outside without the danger of predators or busy streets—are another great option.

Dr. Borns-Weil says...

Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM, DACVB

Dr. Borns-Weil, DVM, DACVB

Board-Certified Animal Behaviorist

With a little work and a lot of thoughtfulness, the indoor environment can be wonderfully enriched for your feline family.