|Cats are inquisitive animals with amazing senses. In the wild, they rely on their senses to survive—to catch food and avoid danger—and thrive.
Cats that are kept indoors can also thrive, but without an enriched environment many will become bored, stressed, and overweight. The consequences for their physical and mental well-being can be severe.
Fortunately, providing your cat with an enriching indoor environment doesn't have to take a lot of time or cost too much.
This Cat Health Topic offers a wide selection of websites that explain why cats need environmental stimulation, offer advice on how you can bring complexity and unpredictability to your indoor cat's daily life, and introduce products you can use to bring—safely—the outside world to your indoor cat.
Tony Buffington, DVM,
PhD, DACVN, and the team of the Indoor Cat Initiative
at Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine have created a website
that explains the importance of environmental enrichment for indoor cats and the role that stress plays in their general health. Dr. Buffington and his team show how our feline friends feel and see the world. The team then shows how you can apply this knowledge to your cat's basic environmental needs, such as litter boxes, scratching areas, places to rest, perches, and toys.
The Feline Advisory Bureau
(FAB) is a British charity devoted to the well-being of cats. From the feline behavior
landing page you will find links to information about cats and stress,
as well as ways to alleviate that stress with toys, catnip,
and a cat-friendly house.
Elsewhere on the FAB website you can read discussions of the pros and cons
of indoors versus outdoors and find out all about cat fencing (here
If you have or are contemplating getting a kitten, consider attending a kitten kindergarten class.
Kersti Seksel, BVSc, FACVSc, ACVB (Seaforth Veterinary Behaviour Consultants, Australia), explains all about kitten classes
and their benefits for you and your cat. (The link is to a PDF, so you'll need the free Adobe Reader to view the file.) By the way, if you have an adult cat, you might not be out of luck! Check with your veterinarian to see whether kitten classes are open to older cats.One of the best ways to enrich your cat's life is to dedicate a little time each day for play and interaction. The stimulation will be good for your cat, and you'll have a great time together! Cats International,
a nonprofit organization, has several articles on playing
Train your cat!
Cats can be trained to do many things, from performing tricks to not scratching in inappropriate locations to taking a harness, which is a safe, fun way of allowing your cat outdoors. Cats International has several articles that will give you an overview of cat training
. If you're itching to dive right in, you'll find instructions on this page
, including step-by-step procedures for teaching your cat to sit up, lie down, and take a harness or leash.
You might get some training ideas by watching this video
featuring a girl and the kitten she has trained since it was five weeks old. The video demonstrates that even young kittens can be trained to perform agility exercises.
(The video might be slow to download over dial-up connections, and if your Web browser isn't configured to play .wmv files, you might be prompted to download the appropriate extension in order to view the video.)
are another way of entertaining your cat. Some cats love them. Other cats won’t pay them any attention. The Kitty Show
company has video previews on its website, so you can look before purchasing. Video Catnip
doesn't include previews.
Finally, cat fencing
is a great way to let your cat safely enjoy the outdoors. Several companies, including Cat Fence-In and Purr...fect Fence make fencing designed to keep your cat in and dangers out. Each website includes a video demonstrating how the fencing works (although the video on the Cat Fence-In website is not as clear as the video on the Purr...fect Fence website).
Llibertat Real Sampietro, DVM
Clinica Veterinaria Bendinat