They may be domesticated, but our cats’ natural hunting and prowling instincts still need to be satisfied. Months of severe weather often leave us and our pets with no choice but to stay indoors, and our cats are just as likely to suffer from cabin fever as we are. What can we do to help them cope during this period? Keep reading for sound, vet-approved advice on how to quell kitty cabin fever.
Challenge them to a treat
Cats love a good challenge, and adding their favorite treats to the mix will make them enjoy the challenging activity all the more. Kitty should have several treat dispenser toys, spread around the house, and with their locations changed every few days to make the “hunt” even more fun and exciting.
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Give them a different perspective
Like their wild counterparts, domesticated cats are territorial, and they enjoy prowling and observing their territory. In fact, it’s a key way to help cats avoid boredom. While their horizontal space might be limited by walls, we can still expand the area that they can prowl by providing them with a few, tall cat trees and scratching posts. This will add a vertical dimension to their space, and give them the opportunity to jump, climb, and move about more. If we can put the cat trees beside windows, the increased range of vision will also give them the impression of a bigger domain. We can also place a bird feeder outside the window, so that our cats will be entertained by the coming and going of birds.
We should, however, avoid placing a cat tree or scratching post by a window if other cats often roam nearby. Our territorial felines might get agitated and get into a spraying contest with the cat on the other side of the glass. They might also begin peeing and pooping by their scratching post, instead of their litter box.
Keep them entertained and stimulated
Even their favorite game of chasing the laser dot or pouncing on a feather wand will soon get old, and Kitty may get bored. We should be ready with an arsenal of toys to keep them entertained and distracted. Switching up their toys every now and then will help keep them interesting. When Kitty loses interest in the toys currently in use, it’s time to take out those in storage and pack up the “boring” ones. Adding a sprinkle of catnip to the toys we put in storage (in a ziplock bag or box) will definitely make Kitty go crazy over them when we take them out again. For some cats, this toy refresh will be weekly, while for others it will be monthly. It depends on the cat.
Keep cat cabin fever at bay
Our cats will not find as much pleasure as we do in cuddly weather - when inclement weather means staying indoors, getting comfy under a blanket, and just lazing around all day. Prolonged inactivity and boredom can become stressful for cats, so much so that they can develop health issues and destructive behaviors. Obesity is also a common result of lack of physical activity, which can lead to other health problems.
We should know our cats enough to recognize the signs of boredom and stress. They will certainly communicate their needs to us, being demanding creatures as they are. Only after their needs have been met will we be able to enjoy the cuddly weather ourselves.
- “Boredom Busters: Tips to Help Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy,” VetStreet
- “Enriching Your Cat’s Life,” WebMD
- “Cabin Fever in Pets,” Okaw Veterinary Clinic