Indoor cats live safer, longer lives than their outdoor counterparts, but they can get bored and lazy if you’re not careful. These tips will ensure your kitty stays fit and happy, both physically and mentally.

Keeping your cat indoors is a wise idea. It helps protect her from disease and injury, and it prevents her from killing songbirds and other wildlife. But unless you give indoor cats ways to stay occupied and active inside the house, they may become bored and lazy. This can lead to destructive behavior, excessive sleeping, or unhealthy weight gain. Here are eight ways to keep your indoor kitty healthy, busy and stimulated.

1. Feed her a high quality, meat-based, grain-free diet, and don’t free feed. Having food available 24/7 encourages indoor cats to eat out of boredom, which can quickly lead to obesity. Feed your cat at set times during the day, and if the food isn’t eaten within half an hour, remove it. An interactive feeder will challenge your cat to work for her food, and make mealtimes more mentally and physically engaging.

2. Make sure she has fresh, clean water available all the time. The air inside a home can get dry, especially during the winter when the heat is on, and that can contribute to dehydration and dry skin if your cat isn’t getting enough moisture. If she doesn’t drink much, consider buying her a pet water fountain – not only will it encourage her to consume more water (cats like moving water), but it’ll also give her something to watch and play with.

3. Play with your cat. Interactive play is one of the best ways to keep your cat physically active. Even just 15 minutes a day can make a big difference, and it can also help satisfy her natural hunting instincts. Throw catnip balls for her, or encourage her to chase a feather toy or a laser light around the house (never shine a laser light in her face). Cats also love jumping into empty cardboard boxes, so have a few of those around and play hide and seek with her.

4. Make sure she has at least one durable scratching post that’s big enough for her to stretch full length along. Scratching is excellent exercise for cats, and it’ll also help prevent her from shredding your upholstery. A cat tree or condo is another great idea. They come in all kinds of fabulous styles and configurations, with multiple levels, hidey-holes and even hammocks. Your cat will get lots of exercise – and have lots of fun – climbing and jumping between levels and enjoying a birds-eye view from the topmost perch.

5. Create or buy a feline window seat for her in a spacious, sunny window. Indoor cats love to look outdoors, and a soft, comfy platform or hammock near a window will soon become one of her favorite spots. Make the view even more captivating for her by situating a bird feeder on or next to the window ledge outside.

6. Cats love fresh greens, so make sure she has her own pot of cat grass. You can buy cat grass kits to grow from seed (barley is an ideal choice), or purchase the grass already grown. Cat grass provides extra nutrition for your cat in the form of chlorophyll, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and she’ll love nibbling on the fresh blades.

7. For hours of entertainment, DVDs for cats feature videos of birds, fish, insects, rodents and all the other small critters felines love to watch and stalk. If you have an iPad, download one of the growing number of apps for cats; they’re games that generate everything from virtual fish in ponds to mice in boxes, with or without sound effects. Load the game, put the iPad on the floor and your cat will have loads of fun tapping the moving images on the screen; in most of the games, the images will disappear when the cat “catches” them, only to be replaced by new ones she can “chase”.

8. Give your cat some quality time every day. Some people think cats aren’t as affectionate as dogs, but most kitties love one-on-one attention from their favorite people. Take some time to stroke your cat, talk to her, or brush her. Make eye contact and slowly blink at her – in feline body language, slow blinking signals trust. You’ll find spending quality time with your cat will relax you and strengthen your mutual bond of love.

Is she a “pushover”?

As any cat lover will tell you, kitties love knocking things down from high places. While you don’t want to encourage your cat to knock over your houseplants or smash your china, you can let her have fun with this by placing a few of her own toys on a table or desk – or even a shelf you’ve set aside specifically for the purpose – and let her push them onto the floor. Make it an interactive game by putting the toys back on the table for her to knock down again.

By taking steps to make sure your indoor cats stay physically and mentally fit and active, you’ll keep them healthy and “purrfectly” contented!

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