When you adopt a kitten or cat from Berkeley Humane, we always recommend they are kept indoors. Not only will they have a longer life, but they will be healthier and safe from the many dangers the great outdoors can pose to a curious kitty. Outdoors, cats can be lost or stolen, and even if they make it home, they can experience hazards like overexposure to direct sunlight, natural predators like coyotes, and human-made dangers like vehicles.
When you bring a new furry, purring cat or kitten into your home, you want to do everything you can to keep them happy and safe—after all, they are your newest family member! You may be wondering, though, whether an old cat, or even a young kitten, can really get all the stimulation they need by staying indoors.
With a little bit of planning, your cat can get the physical and mental stimulation they need, even in a small apartment.
Here are some tips to turn your home into a kitty wonderland:
- Double the space by going vertical! Cats love to climb, and should have access to several different levels throughout your home. Invest in a solid cat tree, and find other surfaces that are safe for your cat to climb on, such as end tables or windowsills. If you’re limited on space, you can even install “cat shelves” on an empty wall!
- Give your cat places to hide. Like climbing, hiding is an important feline instinct. Give your cat at least 3 or 4 comfy places to hide, like a towel-lined cardboard box with a hole cut out of one side makes for a great cat den!
- Cats love looking out windows! Make sure your cat has access to a window, and even better if they have a bed or soft blanket to relax on while they watch the world go by. There are even cat hammocks that you can stick on a window—good luck getting your cat out of them!
- Food, water, and litter are important. Choose a couple of low traffic spots for your cat’s food, water, and litter boxes. Cats don’t like eating near their “bathroom,” so try to keep the food and water away from their litter boxes.
- Your cat can never have too many toys! Gather a variety of toys, both ones they can play with on their own and “interactive” toys for you to play with them. Keep the solo play toys out all the time, or cycle them through so there’s always something new. Put the interactive toys away when you aren’t using them so they stay special, and pay attention to what types of toys your cat prefers. Some cats like chasing balls, while others prefer kick toys that they can pretend to “kill” over and over.
- Help them scratch the right things. Cats need to scratch—it’s an important instinct of theirs. Help them scratch the right things, and it will save your couch too! Purchase 2-3 different styles of scratchers for you cat to try out. Notice which ones your cat does or doesn’t prefer so you can get more in the future.
- It’s not always zoomie time! Your cat needs a quiet space too. Make sure your cat has a safe space to be their “bedroom”. This can be a closed off room (good for if you have other pets), or a quiet corner that you don’t regularly use. You can even put a place to hide in this spot!
Do you have a specific behavior advice question? Berkeley Humane’s Behavior Advice Line is here to help! You can send your question, to be answered by a cat behavior expert, here.
– Carly Skonnord, Pet Program Manager