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You don't have to open the door to the great outdoors to give your cat a more interesting life. In fact, by just looking at your home from a pet's point of view and adding a few environmental enrichments, your cat can be both safe and happy indoors. Here are five easy ways to get going:
Cats love to climb, so give them the opportunity. Cat trees mounted floor-to-ceiling, wrapped with sisal rope and studded with platforms for perching will give your cat the opportunity to look down on the rest of the world. This is especially satisfying if there are dogs in the household. What cat wouldn't like the chance to finally look down on the dog?
The cat with the most toys wins. Every indoor cat should have toys for batting around, toys for chasing, toys to hide inside and toys for interactive play. And don't forget that some of those toys ought to have catnip in them. While not all cats can enjoy the fragrant herb, those who do find it extremely blissful. If your cat is a catnip junkie, indulge him frequently. Rub fresh catnip onto cat trees or scratching posts, or stuff it into toys. It's perfectly safe for your cat to enjoy the buzz.
Some of the most enjoyable toys for both people and cats are the interactive ones. Every cat lover should have a "kitty tease" toy, typically a flexible rod with a line that ends in something furry or feathery to engage a cat's prey drive. Other interactive toys include gloves with goodies dangling from the fingertips, or laser pointers that offer cats a spot of light to chase. (Just be careful not to aim the beam into your cat's eyes).
Whatever the size of the house, your indoor cat will know every one of its sights and sounds within just a few days. Provide a little visual stimulation by putting a bird feeder outside a window fitted with a cat-sized ledge that allows for comfortable viewing.
Be aware, though, that the view of the world isn't always going to work for your cat. If your yard is attracting other cats from the neighborhood, your own cat may become frustrated by the sight (he can even turn that frustration into attacks on people in the house!). Blocking visiting cats from your yard or discouraging them with sprinklers may solve the problem. Otherwise, you may have to make certain windows off-limits to your own cat.
If a window view isn't going to work, try a TV. A few companies offer DVDs for cats. Pop one of these in, and it will entertain your cat with a lively mix of feline-friendly images and sounds, including those of birds and rodents.
Cats love nibbling on plants. Any decent feline reference book will provide a list of plants which should not be in a pet-friendly house. You can also visit the Animal Poison Control Center for information on dangerous plants.
After you get the unsafe ones out of the way, protect your decorative houseplants by hanging them up or otherwise placing them out of reach. Keep cats from digging in your decorative pots by putting a layer of small, rough stones over the dirt. You can then add a collection of accessible plants (such as grass shoots) for him to rub.
Of course, one of the best things you can do for your indoor cat is to spend time with him. Playing, grooming, petting or just plain hanging out -- it's all good. Your cat loves you and loves spending time with you.
Keeping a cat inside is one of the best ways to ensure a long and healthy life, but it won't be a very happy existence unless you're going to add some intrigue to the surroundings. It doesn't take much in the way of time or effort, so get going. Your cat will thank you!
This article was written by a Veterinarian.
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