Our bundles of fluff bring so much joy into our lives so it’s only fair to give back the same way and enrich their lives as much as possible. Just as humans, cats have a wide range of negative emotions such as boredom, depression, and loneliness waiting to come out if we put no effort into making our felines happy. The good news is that cats are not as complicated as us and keeping them happy is not such a hard task once you get the hang of it. All they require is to have their basic needs such as food, shelter, and entertainment satisfied, and they will give you endless purrs and head bumps in return.
If you want to make your cat happy like a responsible pet parent, but have no idea what to do and where to start, here are 15 ideas you can do right now to put a smile on their face (I’m sure they would smile if they could!).
1. Give your cat plenty of loving attention
Some people assume that cats are self-sufficient and that they are just fine spending time on their own. But even if they don’t mind spending time by themselves, they still want you to keep them company and give them attention on a daily basis. Cuddle and snuggle with your cat every day, play with your furry friend and pet them on their favorite spots!
2. Catify your home with furniture that cats love
Catification is a term created by the cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy. What does it mean? It means making your cat’s environment richer and better suited to their personality. You might have seen his TV show Catification where he helps cat owners deal with cat behavioral issues by catifying their homes and making them better tailored to felines. His book Catify to Satisfy is next on my reading list!
Boredom and lack of exciting challenges can contribute to different behavioral issues, and tiring out your cat both physically and mentally will help. If you suspect your cat might be bored, take a look at these 5 signs of kitty boredom. Making your mutual home more fun and challenging for your kitty will not only help with behavioral issues but will also make your feline a relaxed and content member of the family.
How to enrich your cat’s territory?
- Offer lots of places to jump, climb, scratch, stretch and sleep – use awesome cat trees, cat shelves, scratching posts, cat condos and other types of furniture that cats love. You can make cat furniture by yourself too, if you want to save money.
- Place the furniture to allow your cat to jump from one to another. For example, from sofa to the shelf, from the shelf to the cat tree and so on, without touching the floor.
- Try to identify your cat’s preferences. Some cats like to scratch horizontally while some prefer vertically, some cats prefer spending time on the floor and some prefer to be up high on the shelves and cat trees. We should cater to their preferences and catify our homes in a way that best fits our cats.
3. Provide plenty of entertainment
If your indoor cat has nothing to do all day, they’re bound to get bored sooner or later. Cats love adventure and exercising their hunting instincts. Their indoor environment should be apt to tackle those interests.
There are many ways to keep your cat entertained and happy (see my list of 50 ways to entertain your cat). A few things you can do right away:
- Your cat should have lots of toys to play with. For example, a mouse they can carry in their mouth, catnip toys, toys that work their hunting instincts such as a wand toy they can chase around. If you’re not around much to play with them, use automatic cat toys they can play with by themselves. Or you can make some of these simple DIY cat toys!
- Take the time to play with your cat. Use toys and try different games such as chasing the laser pointer or the ping pong ball in a bathtub.
- Set up an indoor playground where they can jump, climb, and play.
- Keep it interesting – buy or make new cat toys from time to time, hide the old ones so they don’t get bored with the same toys. After a while, bring back the hidden toys again and hide the toys your cat has been using. This way, the old toys will seem like new, exciting toys.
A tired cat equals a happy cat. If you spend active time with your cat and play with them every day to exhaust them, they will have no reason to complain.
Free Printable: 50 Ways to Entertain Your Cat
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4. Offer safe outdoor access
Keeping your cat strictly indoors or letting them go out is an age-old question that many cat owners deal with from time to time. It can be a really tough decision to make, especially if your cat is always meowing to go outside.
Luckily, I live in a safe place in Europe, with no big roads nearby and the most dangerous animal living here is Bambi. So I let Okica go out in the yard and she loves it. She’ll go for a stroll around the yard, explore new, interesting scents, sleep in a sunny spot, and then she’ll come back in.
Now, I don’t suggest you leave your cat out unsupervised if it’s dangerous where you live. Safety should always come first. But consider these safe ways to let your cat enjoy the outdoors:
- Fencing your yard so your cat can’t get away but can still enjoy the fresh air and sun
- A screened porch
- Walking your cat on a leash – this will require leash training first
- You can let your cat go on a balcony after cat proofing it
If outdoor access is not an option after all, here are 7 ideas on bringing outdoors inside to your indoor cat!
5. A nice place to scratch
Scratching is a cat’s natural instinct and their way of stretching and relaxing their muscles while they’re sharpening their claws. But not all cats have the same preferences when it comes to scratching. Some cats like to scratch horizontally on the floor, some prefer vertically while others are not picky and like both. Based on their preferences, you’ll want to get a scratching post they will love to use.
Does your cat like to scratch your carpet while their fancy vertical scratching post is sitting right there, unused? They’ll probably like a horizontal scratching post better. If your cat is scratching the sofa while you have a nice horizontal scratching post on the floor, maybe your feline just prefers vertical places to scratch. Having both a vertical and horizontal scratching post is also a good idea because your cat might love to use both, depending on their current mood.
6. A nice view of the outside world
Cats can spend hours and hours resting in front of the window and looking at the birds and squirrels. Make sure your cat has a decent view on the outside and a place where they can lie for hours while enjoying the sun. Having a cozy window perch in front of the window is an excellent way to make your cat comfortable while they watch their kitty TV. A bird feeder you can attach to the window such as Nature’s Hangout Window Bird Feeder makes a great show that’ll entertain them for hours.
7. Keep your litter box in the right place
Location of the kitty toilet is important for building good toilet habits. If your kitty’s restroom is located in a place they don’t approve, they might avoid using it. Or they will still use it but not be overly happy about it. Consider this to make sure your cat is content with the litter box location:
- Keep the litter box in a private area, without too much noise and people running around. A bathroom or a hallway might be a suitable choice. If the box is in the living room, put it in a more secluded area, or isolate it with some kind of curtain.
- Don’t put the kitty toilet near their food bowls. They don’t like to do their business near their food (who does, right?).
8. Keep their environment clean
Cats are neat freaks and they want their living space to be nice and clean. They will not tolerate a dirty litter box. Some cats might even protest if you’re not scooping the poop often enough by not using the box. Cats don’t like to do their business in a stinky toilet and who could blame them? Clean the kitty toilet at least once a day, or even better – scoop as soon as your feline uses the box.
9. Time for themselves
Cats need privacy and time for themselves too. They love to hide in a box or other secluded place so arranging a hideaway where they can go to rest, sleep, or hide is always a good idea. Their hideaway can be an ordinary cardboard box, a covered cat bed, a cat condo / house, or any place where they’ll feel safe and at peace.
10. Grow cat grass for them to nibble
It’s natural for cats to nibble on the grass when they live outdoors. Why not make it possible for indoor cats too? Many plants you can grow indoors are beneficial for a cat’s health. Some plants you can grow for your kitty are:
- cat thyme
- licorice root
It doesn’t take long to grow a kitty garden. Your feline will enjoy the green blades in only a week after you plant them. If you’re new to gardening, you can start with a simple cat grass growing kit that has all the instructions. It can’t get any easier than that!
11. Be your cat’s catnip supplier
It’s no secret most cats like to get their dose of catnip from time to time. Catnip contains a chemical compound called nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is a stimulant that makes cats “high”; they get euphoric, hyperactive, and simply enjoy those 10 minutes of ecstasy. It is completely safe for our kitties so it’s no harm to treat them with this exciting plant from time to time. You can get catnip in a bag and give your cat some when you feel like it. Or you can opt for catnip toys – consider making them yourself if you’re DIY savvy.
12. Keep an eye on your cat’s health
Even though a trip to the vet is not something cats enjoy and look forward to, keeping our felines healthy is extra important for their happiness. A healthy kitty is a happy kitty, so make sure to keep yearly vet checkups and that they get all the shots they need.
13. Challenge your cat
Being fed the same food at the same time has its benefits but it is also unchallenging and boring. This is especially true for felines wired to hunt for their food and use their hunting instincts. Instead of simply feeding your cat as you always do, provide mental stimulation and encourage your cat to work for food to spice things up. Use puzzle feeders and food dispenser toys to challenge your furry kids and let them exercise their mental cells to get their delicious reward.
14. Feed them the right amount and provide fresh water at all times
Cats love to eat and love to do it often – maybe even too often. Give your cat enough food to fill their little bellies but don’t overfeed them even if they are asking you for more goodies. Your vet can tell you the right amount of food for your cat based on their weight and level of activity, so stick with that amount. It can be hard to say no when your fluff ball is meowing like crazy every time you sit down to eat your food. But overfeeding your kitty leads to obesity, and they become unhealthy and unhappy as a result. There’s nothing wrong with giving your cat an occasional treat or a piece of ham, as long as you don’t overdo it.
Your cat should always have access to fresh water. This is crucial if you’re feeding your cat dry food. Dry food is only 10% water while wet food is 80% water, so keep an eye on your cat’s water intake and make sure they are drinking enough.
15. Get another cat
Some cats prefer being the sole queen or king in their home while some of them would embrace a new furry friend to keep them company. Does your cat seem to be lonely and you are out of the house for most the day? They might appreciate having a kitty BFF. If you go that route, introduce your cats slowly so they can start on the right foot and quickly become best buddies.
If your cat is not already a contented kitty, I’m positive this list of 15 ways to make a cat happy will add plenty of joyful moments to your cat’s life.
How do you keep your cat(s) happy? Any cat happiness tips to share?
I would love to hear about it in the comments!