How to Make a Happy Cat: Indoor Hunting
Cats are amazing predators and really enjoy hunting. They are literally made for it. When unchecked, their insatiable desire to chase and kill prey can have a large environmental impact. Some studies have shown that in the United States alone, 2.4 million birds per year die at the “hands” of the feline hunter.
To protect my neighborhood ecosystem, and to keep my cats safe, I choose to raise them indoors. There are many ways to adapt your home environment to allow your cats to live a healthy, happy, and full life inside. Think cat furniture, scratching posts, kitty safe shelving, and catios. All of these environmental adaptations will simulate the outdoor world and will enrich your cat’s life. For my cats, after renovating my home for maximum kitty comfort, I noticed that something was missing. Maybe you have too. My cats would lounge around, enjoying all the creature comforts that our home has to offer, but they didn’t seem perfectly content. I increased their daily play time, and that seemed to bring a lot of joy, but on days that my human family was too busy, it didn’t work. They seemed to lack the ability to keep themselves entertained. I realized that I needed to provide a safe outlet for their instinctual desire to chase, hunt, and even kill their prey.
After a lot of research, here are a few ideas that we’ve implemented in my home:
1. Play time! - That’s right, play with your cat. I had to mention it first because cats are social animals and will always love spending time with you. They also love hunting games that let them simulate murder. Cat feather dusters and wands bring together two of their favorite things, you and killing things. This is a great way for you to bond with your loved one. You can simulate small prey animals such as mice and birds, and watch your feline up close, and see how ferocious they can be.
2. Chews - Chewing isn’t just for dogs. Many, but not all, cats enjoy this pastime too. You can buy dehydrated duck heads, rabbit ears and feet, freeze dried chicken necks, salmon skin, cod skin, etc. The possibilities are endless! One of my cats will carry around his rabbit foot like a prize and then stop to kill it again with his back feet. Too cute!
3. Hide and Eat - Hide your cat’s food around the house in different locations. Sounds like something mean to do to a person, but it’s a great way to engage your cat’s sense of smell and need to roam. Start off with easy and obvious locations and over time increase the difficulty level. BONUS: Occasionally hide their food in their crate to get them comfortable with being in their crate before going to the vet’s office visit.
4. Puzzle Feeders - These help cats use their brains and manipulate their environment with their paws, just like they’d do when hunting outdoors. I switch out and use different puzzles every week to keep things interesting. If you're having difficulty finding a variety, you can get the easier ones made for tiny dogs.
I hope these ideas help you bridge the gap between a happy cat and a fully satisfied feline family member.
Share your indoor hunting adventures with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by tagging #MamaWalksDogs. Got ideas, suggestions, or wanna share your experience? Comment below!
With puppy and kitty love,
Lily the Dog Mama