At the most basic level, mental health correlates with overall health and well-being. It is why we are concerned not only with making pets healthier, but also with enhancing their quality of life.
Basic Indoor Cat Needs
The “ideal” cat home is one in which all cat’s natural instincts can be satisfied, inside. While they need a litter box and food, places to scratch, rest and perch, and toys to play with are also ideal supplements. Providing acceptable outlets for natural behaviors, while removing or reducing exposure to stress and threats, enables you to fully enjoy a loving relationship with your cat.
The Cat Room
Have an area that your cat can call their own, with food, water, a bed, a litter box, a scratching/climbing post, a window with a perch, and some toys. Preferably, this room is serene, isolated, and warmer than the rest of the house. Cats love to be warmer than their human counterparts.
Make sure food, water and litter are in areas where there is nothing to “spook” the cat. Appliances and air ducts that start randomly may make the cat averse to using nearby resources. Be sure to change water and food, and scoop litter daily to keep them appealing to the cat.
The biggest benefit to staying indoors for a cat is that it is predictable and safe. However, try to avoid monotony. Bored cats may try to find their own fun and get into trouble by nibbling on things they shouldn’t (electrical cords, ribbons, elastics, etc.) or knock things off of counters.
A happy cat is one that is allowed to be, well, a cat. They love to pounce and hunt. Simple toys can be made at home to encourage these behaviors. An empty box can create days of entertainment. Just change where the box is, what is in it, how is it positioned etc. to create a new place to explore every day.
Drop a ping-pong ball in an empty tissue box or a favorite toy in a paper bag and see them try and get it out. Cats love to look outside. Clear a space where they can look out the window, even put up a bird feeder for entertainment. You can also rotate store bought toys so they never get to used to a certain toy.
For more information on enriching your cat’s environment, visit the Indoor Pet Initiative.