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How to Have a Happy Cat Indoors

Updated on April 27, 2015
VladimirCat profile image

Vladimir is a former champion ratter (retired). His hobbies are bushwalking, birdwatching and nature studies

Cats hate being bored
Cats hate being bored | Source

There's nothing worse than a bored cat

Are you an inside cat? Perhaps you share a high-rise apartment with your staff people but there are all sorts of reasons for cats to live indoors.

I'm an inside cat not just because of my advanced age, but because I live next to a Nature Reserve. The woman who feeds me makes sure I'm not out slaughtering the local wildlife, being inside means I can't get my teeth into the Rakali in the creek or snack on an Eastern Rosella.

So most of my day and all of my nights, I'm inside. But I get bored.

In the interests of everyone, here's a few tips to keep your cat happy indoors.

Cats like a view of the outside
Cats like a view of the outside

Safety for Cats while you're away

If you're going to go out and leave a cat inside all day, make sure

  1. all the windows are closed
  2. curtains are closed on hot days
  3. cables are tied up and out of view
  4. plenty of fresh water is in the bowl
  5. a bit of kibble is left out in a bowl
  6. the litterbox is fresh

A cat needs something to play with

Have you ever watched a cat outside? If you do, it will be fairly obvious that we're constantly looking for something to stalk, chase or jump upon. We do this to keep alert and sharp, to maintain our peak physical fitness and also because it's fun!

If we're stuck inside then you better provide some different types of toys for different activities so we can continue to hone our natural hunting skills. Otherwise we may just start ripping up some cushions and ripping down some curtains. Maybe there are a few little precious ornaments around your house we can break too.

Did I mention scratching the furniture? Gouging deep furrows in antique chairs is a satisfying antidote to boredom.

A Simple Cardboard Box for Hours of Fun

Bags and Boxes are Excellent Cat Toys

Paper Bags, we are told, are good for the environment but, even better, they're absolutely irresistible for cats. It's that enticing, rustling, crinkling noise they make, so like the sound of some little prey animal scurrying inside a burrow. They're pretty handy as cat lurking spots too.

Cardboard Boxes are the best cat toys ever invented! If you can get your hands on an empty cardboard box I can get my paws on a great hiding place to use as an attacking spot. From the depths of the trusty cardboard box I can lie patiently in wait for an unsuspecting unshod human foot to walk past. Cardboard boxes are cozy napping areas too. Next time you get a delivery, keep the box for me please.

Simple Cat Toys are Cheap

Through play, we exercise our natural instincts to explore and thrive in the world around us. Simple little toys help keep us healthy, active and engaged.

Make Your Own Cat Toys

Make Your Own Cat Toys: Saving The Planet One Cat Toy At A Time
Make Your Own Cat Toys: Saving The Planet One Cat Toy At A Time

Reducing your cat's carbon paw print has never been easier!


Cats don't want expensive toys

You don't have to spend much, or even any, of that money you're always so concerned about.

There are numerous inexpensive cat toys to keep us busy - ping pong balls, balls with bells inside, balls hanging from rope, soft mice for stalking, batting and pouncing.

My favourites are those cat toys which dangle from doors.

A Room with a View

I want to look out the window

Oh my how we love to look out the window!

The whole world is out there and we can sit and stare for hours at a time. It's alright for people to gaily go off and join in the outside hustle and bustle but even a senior cat like myself needs to look at what's going on.

A bit of wood, a hammer and some nails and you have a cat perch on the windowsill. Too hard? Rented apartment? No worries, you can still manage a comfortable perch.

Arrange your furniture so that a cat can climb up easily to a window. First step a chair, then a table, dresser or bureau under the window.

Make a Cat Perch yourself

Really easy with a small ladder

Use your imagination!

You can construct climbing perches yourself with no carpentry experience whatsoever.

This clever woman has made a cat's perch, ideal for looking out the window.

She used a four foot tall stepladder and 500 feet of 1/4" sisal rope.. The ladder is reinforced by struts at the base for safety.

The Cat Ladder has carpeted pieces, these ones are parts of a 12" diameter cardboard concrete mold bought at a building supply store, but rope would do just as well.

Full instructions for the Cat Ladder

The Perfect Cat Platform - You could relax here all day!

What cat wouldn't instantly love this K&H Kitty Sill Deluxe

P.S What's a Rakali?

What are these things?

Wondering what a Rakali is? They're rats! I thought one of my jobs was to keep the place clear of rats but apparently not these ones. Rakali are water rats, native to Australia, and have nothing to do with those nasty critters who carried the Black Death.

And what's an Eastern Rosella?

An Eastern Rosella is an Australian parrot and totally out of bounds to me. These days I just watch them from the window.

© 2009 Vladimir

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    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 2 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      My daughter's cat had to live indoors when she moved to Boston - he got so bored she had to "lend" him to me! Now he can go outside and have his "adventures" but stay inside and enjoy looking out the window when the weather isn't to his taste. We still have to keep him entertained on those indoor days, so I appreciate the tips here!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 2 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Very interesting. We don't have any cats right now but always did until several years ago.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      My Olly would love this page ... he isn't good at reading :)

    • SimonJay profile image

      SimonJay 5 years ago

      Hey thx for these fantastic ideas i a m hoping to stop them from scracthing everything else around the house when they get bored

    • MariaDSk profile image

      MariaDSk 5 years ago

      I would be too concerned to keep a cat outside when I get one, and my grandma is too scared in moscow ( as are any cat owners there) to let them go outside so some ideas here are brilliant.

    • profile image

      glutenallergy 5 years ago

      This is full of wonderful ideas! I especially like the picture showing the cat-friendly room.

      The absolutely favorite cat toy in our five-cat household is the plastic easter egg. Even our most timid cat can sometimes be found batting at an egg. Our cats like the eggs both put together (complete) or pulled apart. They make noise, which they seem to like, and complete eggs roll, in a very unpredictable way, that they love. These are a super cheap cat toy that you can find at your local dollar store, just be sure to look around Easter.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 5 years ago

      My cat doesn't have even the slightest desire to be outside. I'm glad because I don't want her to get hurt. She does love playing with toys though, and she has to go up and down stairs to her litter box so she does get exercise.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 6 years ago

      My cat is an indoor cat and get supervised weekend walks in the backyard. She is a scaredy cat and loves being indoor except for the occasional craving to eat grass.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 6 years ago

      My cat is an indoor cat and get supervised weekend walks in the backyard. She is a scaredy cat and loves being indoor except for the occasional craving to eat grass.

    • profile image

      Tamara14 6 years ago

      What an entertaining reading this was :)

    • AlexTedford profile image

      AlexTedford 6 years ago

      Well done! My cat is very mischievous and I usually just let her roam outside!

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

      We love cats, but unfortunately my husband became allergic.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 6 years ago

      An adorable lens. Having indoor cats myself, I can say you have a lot of great ideas here. Blessed!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 6 years ago

      This lens merits four paws. Meow.

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 6 years ago

      My cat doesn't play much with his toys or use his scratching post or trays, but he loves tearing into a cardboard box I leave in the foyer (rarely go out that door). That's his favorite place to scratch. I also have a pillow on an end table by the window in the family room where he loves to perch to view the world. Also the couch in the living room has a window at each end, so I pull the curtains back so he can perch there also and look out. I'd like to link this article to my cat shop article, if you don't mind.

    • profile image

      greenlungsofpoland 6 years ago

      Wonderful Lens we have two house cats who have adjusted well to our two house bound dogs - It took a while but i am pretty sure the cats are in charge and our Doberman and mini terrier both tow the line. During the spring the dogs spend most of the day outside, i think the cats will miss them, so will be putting your ideas into action x great stuff

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      Ah so very true how a cardboard box can provide hours of entertainment to an indoor cat. Hope you are well Vladi I know that you are getting up there in age and may not be able to do that amazing leap into the old cardboard box quite as easily as you used to.

    • profile image

      agent009 6 years ago

      I kept my cat outdoors and they enjoyed themselves. My friends with indoor cats just sat there and watched TV haha.

    • BuddyBink profile image

      BuddyBink 6 years ago

      Wonderful. I try to keep my cats entertained. For some reason the best toy is just a piece of string, they go nuts for it. Anyway, nice lens.

    • KarenTBTEN profile image

      KarenTBTEN 6 years ago

      I have a friend who made walkways around the house for his cats. (He is in the home improvement business.) Good tips. SquidAngel blessings.

    • imaginemdd lm profile image

      imaginemdd lm 6 years ago

      Great to keep your cat safe indoors. Thanks for the advice and inspiration.

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 6 years ago

      Great advice. That first cat photo is priceless (Please, go on...). LOL Thanks for making my day.

    • MeganShoop profile image

      MeganShoop 6 years ago

      This is so comprehensive! Our cats loooove paper bags, especially when they can hide and attack feets from inside.

    • RobinK LM profile image

      RobinK LM 6 years ago

      My cat loves cardboard boxes! Great lens! My cat likes to sit and look out from our sliding glass door too. Still need to get him a perch as he climbs everything.

    • profile image

      TravelingRae 6 years ago

      My cats' favourite toys are cotton swabs (Q-tips) and rubber bands. My girl knows where the rubber bands are hidden and gets excited when I open the top drawer of the desk. I let her help herself and it's like watching a kid at Christmas. What makes me brood happy is that we live in an RV so the view is always changing. I love it when I leave a location to empty my tanks and come back; the cats are visibly disappointed to be back in the same place!

    • profile image

      Wordsmithery 6 years ago

      Awesome! In my opinion, a good view from the window is CRITICAL to an indoor cat's wellbeing! My kitties get so happy when they catch a glimpse of a bird or squirrel - they chatter and twitch like crazy! Little gems like that inspire them to play even more.

    • Andrea RM profile image

      Andrea RM 6 years ago

      Very good tips and awesome pictures. I especially liked the walkways and ladders one; wish I could do something like that for my Strider. I'm also a huge fan of Maru, that cat puts a smile on my face every single time :-)

    • profile image

      Chardoo 6 years ago

      Great photos! Those cats look very happy.

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Just made my cat an indoors girl - she gets a bit bored sometimes, but I'm working on it. Have got an outside run too, for a little fresh air when the weather is good (Winter here at the moment)

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 6 years ago

      Just did a lens on our cat that died after 20 years. Thought I would check out some cat lenses. Nice Lens. Nice subject.

    • profile image

      Helene-Malmsio 7 years ago

      my cats have a HUGE catrun down the side and back of house, so they can play outside 24/7 without risk to themselves or wildlife. Also have a big birdfeeder outside glass door which they stare at like their own "national geographic" TV show - lol!

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 7 years ago

      Great tips ~ I'm a firm believer in keeping kitties safe indoors, my Kitty Wompuss was run over by a car because I gave into my x-husband's insistence that cats should be allowed to run free outside ~ I will never make that mistake again...though my kitties do go outside for walks on their leases & they love it! ~ Blessed >*

    • KokoTravel profile image

      KokoTravel 7 years ago

      Nice style of home ... for cats. I agree about giving you all some perches and play areas, but my cats seem to like the fun and games of playing around the people stuff.

    • KokoTravel profile image

      KokoTravel 7 years ago

      Nice style of home ... for cats. I agree about giving you all some perches and play areas, but my cats seem to like the fun and games of playing around the people stuff.

    • catbehaviors profile image

      catbehaviors 7 years ago

      You sure do have some wonderful tips, Vladi! I really like the cat optimized home, but I don't think I'll be doing it to my home anytime soon! :)


    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 7 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      Lots of great ideas for keeping indoor cats happy and busy. Pointing out the threat cats pose to the native wildife is so appreciated. Blessed by a SquidAngel

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Another awesome lens! Love it! As a cat rescuer myself,,I really agree with everything you wrote on this page! Especially that so many people don't think about the dangers to cats outside!

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 7 years ago

      I love the kitteh house!!! And I forgot about the cat in the cardboard box video. Still makes me laugh.

    • profile image

      Fit_Over_40_Buzz 7 years ago

      This is a great lens. Thanks for making it. Very informative. I gave you a thumbs up

      cause I like your lens.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 7 years ago from Canada

      I love the house designed for cats.....absolutely positively divine!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      For us it is a real juggling act to maintain the cats that are 100% indoors and then to sort out those that come in and out and then those that are 100% outdoors in the feral colony -- once in a while, some of those are wanting to come in to.

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 8 years ago from Quezon City

      Wonderful lens and excellent tips! We keep at least one window that our cat can't reach open though so he can breathe fresh air while we're out. Thanks for the link to the Ultimate Kitteh House too, it should be useful for those of us who are constantly looking for more ways to make our home interesting for our kitty cats. (: