Tips for Indoor Cats this Winter

tips-for-indoor-catsWe hope you have been enjoying our relatively warm winter so far, but it appears the mercury is starting to drop. Burr! Time to curl up with a great book, a warm blanket and the family pet for some warm indoor evenings.

In some of our previous entries, we talked about animal safety in winter but some of you have very correctly pointed out two things: (1) Most of our advice has been about dogs and (2) The safest place for your cat this winter is indoors.

You are absolutely right on both counts! A lot of the winter safety advice we hand out is for dogs because dogs typically continue to go outside in the winter while we truly hope that everyone is keeping their felines indoors. For felines that are let outside or those who do not have homes, winter can be a very hazardous time. In fact, being allowed to roam outside is hazardous for felines at any time of the year, in addition to being against city bylaws. We have previously shared a little information on how to keep these outdoor felines safe, but we would also encourage you to bring any cats you find outside in the cold to our shelter so we can keep them safe.

Today on the blog, we’re bringing you some advice on how to keep your favorite feline friend happy and safe indoors this holiday season!

  1. Know the mantra of your cat! Hunt-Catch-Kill-Eat-Groom-Sleep! This is what cats want to do, in this order, every day (cat mantra courtesy of Jackson Galaxy). You can help your cat get in touch with their inner ocelot by setting up playtimes at the right times of day. Engage your cat in vigorous play right before meal time, feeding them after they have had a chance to “kill” the toy they are hunting. This will inspire the cat to spend 30-60 minutes grooming after the meal followed by a nice long nap. If your cat is disruptive at night, timing this ritual before you go to bed can buy you a few extra hours of shut-eye.
  1. Add some cat-friendly furniture! The number one reason that cats find trouble in our homes is boredom. Cats sleep many hours a day (anywhere from 16-20 usually) but during the hours they are awake cats are curious and active animals! For wild cats, this time is filled with hunting, exploring and territory marking and your little house panther wants to do the same thing. Invest in a good quality cat condo that you cat can scratch, climb and sit on. Cats LOVE to sit up high and survey their territory, so the taller, the better!
  1. Catify your living space! Once you’ve chosen an awesome cat condo, don’t hide it away in the basement! Territory is VERY important for cats, and they want to be where the hub of activity in the household is. Getting the most out of your cat tree usually involves sacrificing some prime real estate – like in front of a living room window. This gives your cat a chance to enjoy your company when you are around but also gives them access to cat TV (the great outdoors) when you are away. Hanging a bird feeder in the front yard can provide even more visual stimulation for cats.
  1. Invest in the right kinds of toys! Invest in some good quality interactive toys as well as some foraging toys (like treat balls) that you can leave out for your cat to solve. If your cat is easily bored an interactive feeding dish (a dish that requires your kitty to solve a puzzle or manipulate food in order to remove it from the dish) can be a great way to keep feline brains busy.
  1. Catnip responsibly! Not all cats like catnip, but if your cat does then catnip is a great way to occasionally spice up your cat’s life. Catnip can be a great way to encourage cats to play more and it can also be used to reinforce the use of specific items in a home (like a new cat tree!). Consider purchasing some catnip scented toys or rub a bit of catnip into the cat tree from time to time to keep things interesting. Some words of caution: Overusing catnip can cause your cat to become bored with it, and if your cat gets aggressive when given catnip you will want to ensure their catnip time is well-controlled.
  1. Variety is the spice of life! Provide a variety if different types of cat toys and rotate these toys out regularly to add more interest to your miniature tiger’s indoor world. Be warned though: When it comes to toys variety may be the spice of life, but most cats do NOT appreciate remodeling of their territory, so please don’t start moving the furniture around unless you really need to!

We hope this helps you keep your indoor feline happy this winter!

Calgary Humane Society