50 Ways to Entertain Your Cat (+ Free PDF Printable)

by Monika
How to entertain a cat

Cats spend 2/3 of their lives sleeping but once they are awake, they love to do something active and fun. Bored cats can get stressed and try to entertain themselves by scratching your furniture, meowing non-stop or grooming too much which can lead to an excessive buildup of cat hair in their stomachs.

Having various ways to keep a cat busy and entertained is essential for keeping indoor cats happy.

If you’re wondering how to entertain your cat and want to keep them busy, happy and active, then I’m sure you’ll get plenty of new ideas from my list of 50 ways to entertain a cat. Take a look!

Download my PDF list so you always have a reminder of all the things you can do with your cat! Check it out at the bottom of this post.

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Contents

Provide mental stimulation

Puzzle feeder for cats

(On the photo: Trixie 5-in-1 Activity Center from Amazon)

1. Puzzle feeders

One way of “spicing up” your cat’s dinner time and turning a meal into a fun activity is by using a puzzle feeder. Food puzzles make the cat use their hunting and foraging instincts, so it has a positive impact on both their mental and physical health.

Even though you might love to treat your cat like a prince or princess, it is better for their mental health to work for food. Actually, this study found that food puzzles reduce stress in cats and make them less demanding. So there’s no reason not to try! Your cat will be more physically active, healthier and less stressed!

Start with a “basic” puzzle feeder. When Kitty gets used to it and no longer finds it challenging, switch to one that is more complex. If you want to save money, you can also make puzzle feeders at home using household items such as empty toilet paper rolls – check out #10 for DIY cat toy ideas.

2. Hide the food in new locations

Make your cat work for food! Now, I don’t mean they should help you with the house chores (Wouldn’t that be great, though?!). Rather, make their feeding time a bit more challenging.

Next time you’re about to feed your cat, why not make things more interesting by hiding their food? Try putting the food in a few different places so your cat will have to put their nose to work and hunt it down. As felines have natural predatory instincts, they’ll be able to tap into their inner hunter.

You can also do this hiding game with treats. Put treats in places that are not that easily accessible, which will encourage your feline to put in some effort to capture their “prey. However, make sure you don’t overdo it with the treats – they shouldn’t account for more than 5% of your cat’s daily diet!

3. Put food in a kitty KONG

The KONG interactive toy is very popular with dog parents that can also be used for cats. The company makes a smaller version for cats too, which is great for entertaining cats because it bounces around unpredictably. It does, however, only work with larger cat treats since regular sized treats fall out too easily.

4. Put kibble or treats inside an egg carton

You probably have an egg carton in your home right now. When it’s empty, don’t throw it away! Use it instead for treats, placing it inside the carton, and let your feline work to get the treats out.

5. Teach your cat some tricks

Cats may not be quick learners like their canine counterparts, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to train them! You might need to spend a bit more time but it can be done.

Give these cat tricks a try! Teach them to:

  • come when called
  • high-five
  • sit
  • fetch

Always use positive reinforcement and delicious but healthy treats such as chicken or turkey to reduce the likelihood of kitty putting on a few extra pounds!

6. Searching for food scent

Rub lunch meat on old socks or small pieces of fabric to add a yummy scent. Then, hide these meat-scented treats throughout the house. Your cat will enjoy using their nose to track the source of the scent.

Games

Cat hiding in a box

7. Make a labyrinth out of boxes

By connecting a few boxes and making doors or “passageways” between each box, you can make an exciting labyrinth where your cat can hide and play.

8. Shell game

Have you seen that popular video of a cat kicking ass in the shell game? You can try playing this with your cat, which encourages them to exercise their brain at the same time. Who knows, you might discover your cat is a genius! Try it out with your cat, it’s easy! Use 3 plastic cups such as empty yogurt containers, and a small ball, or pretty much anything that rolls around.

9. Fetching a ball

Some cats love to play fetch. It’s not only for dogs! Try throwing a ball near your cat and see if they’ll kick it back to you.

10. ‘Which hand has the food’ game

You’re probably familiar with this game, but when you’re playing with a feline, it’s best to use a treat instead of a penny or other things we usually play this with.

Put your hands in front of the cat so they can see which hand the treat is in. Then, place your hands behind your back and put your treat in another hand or leave it where it is. At this point, let your cat decide which hand has the treat. It’s a pretty simple and fun game for both of you.

11. Hide and seek

Hide, call your cat and wait until they find you. If your cat is not very interested, you can take a slice of lunchmeat with you to motivate them.

12. Drag your cat on a slippery material

If you have some kind of old blanket or sheet that you don’t mind dragging on the floor, you can get your cat to climb on the blanket and drag them around the house! If the cat doesn’t want to get on the blanket, maybe she’ll be interested in chasing it around!

13. Playing games on smartphone

Technology has come such a long way that we can even get cat entertainment apps for our furry feline! You can try some of these 7 apps for cats to play. Your cat can catch mice, bugs, fish or even laser pointers on your mobile phone.

14. Move a stick under the door

Use some kind of thin stick or a string and move it under the door. When your cat runs for it and almost catches it, pull it away.

Toys

If you want to provide your cat with some top-notch entertainment, there are many cat toys designed to awaken your cat’s predatory instinct, keeping them entertained and occupied for hours. Try your hand at creating cat toys or choose some of the hundreds of different interactive cat toys on the market.

Cat toys to entertain your cat

15. Alternate your cat’s toys

To prevent your cat from getting bored with their toys, hide a few toys for a little while. When those toys “reappear”, they will be more fun. Always have a few toys hidden so when your cat gets bored with their “old” toys you can get the hidden ones out.

16. Throw elastic hair bands

When I was a kid, I loved launching hair bands in the air and running to catch them. It is still fun to do it, especially when your cat is so excited to catch them! Try throwing two at a time too!

17. Make foil balls

This is one absolutely simple cat toy that will keep your cat occupied for some time. Just make sure the foil has no food scent so the cat doesn’t try to eat it and supervise them while they play with the ball. You can also put the tape on the foil ball to make it more durable and the cat will not be able to nibble on the foil.

18. Laser pointer

Cats would do anything to finally catch that laser point, even if it sometimes means knocking things over and sliding all over the room in hot pursuit. But it is worth it because it makes an excellent exercise while keeping your feline friend entertained.

19. Ping pong balls in a bathtub

Such a simple game and so much fun! The ball will bounce everywhere while the cat is trying hard to catch it.

20. Drag shoelaces across the room

Cats don’t need a lot to be entertained. Sometimes something as simple as shoelaces will do. Drag your shoelaces across the floor and watch your kitty enjoy while trying to chase them.

21. Bottle rings

You know those things that detach from the bottle cap when you first open it? Don’t throw those away because they can make a great toy for your cat! Give it to your cat so they can push it around and play with it.

22. Put stuffing or catnip in old socks

Use an old sock to put catnip or simply a piece of material inside, and tie it with a string or sew the opening. This makes a really simple and fun cat toy.

23. Make paper balls

Another extra simple toy that will keep your feline entertained. Simply crumple a paper into a ball and give it to your kitty to toss it around.

24. Felted wool balls

If you know how to felt, you can make your own felted ball toys for the kitty to enjoy. These toys are lightweight so your cat can easily toss them around and carry them in their mouth. We love the Earthtone Solutions felted balls.

25. Remote control or a motion toy to chase

There are many motion cat toys that cats love to play with for hours, such as SmartKat Cat Toy, or if you have kids and they have remote control toys, they can also work great at entertaining your cat while also entertaining your kid. Double win!

26. Hang toys around the room

Put hanging toys in different parts of the apartment. For example, a toy can hang from the door handle, another one from the coffee table etc. So when the cat is walking by it will motivate them to play with it.

27. Wand toy

Wand toys are very popular among the cat nation and you can easily make one yourself with a stick, a string and something attached to it. You can take a look at the DIY cat toy wand from my collection of 10 easy DIY cat toys.

Avoid dangerous items as toys such as:

  • rubber bands
  • sequins
  • hairpins
  • anything else that is too small and your cat might eat it

Encourage exercise, climbing and exploring

Cat exercise to keep them entertained

28. Put boxes around the room

It’s no secret that cats love boxes and, according to research, boxes reduce stress levels in cats. Boxes not only provide a great hiding place but can make a great playroom. Your cat will enjoy jumping in and out of the box, lurking from the inside and other crazy things cats do with boxes.

You can also put boxes to use and make this simple DIY playhouse.

29. Cat tower or shelves to climb on

Cats love to climb and they love to keep an eye on everything from an elevated point of view. You can install the shelves on the wall for your cat to climb on.

A cat tree would also make a great addition to your cat’s entertainment and by having these areas where the cat can climb and jump to, there’s a smaller chance they will go on the kitchen counter and the table.

30. Fill the box with balls or cloth

If you have pieces of cloth that you don’t mind getting cat hair on, or even better – if you have a bunch of plastic balls, you can fill the box with those and let your cat dig, explore, sniff and enjoy!

31. Leave paper bags and packaging out

When you get home from shopping with a bunch of paper bags, leave those in the room for your cat to explore before you throw them away.

32. Make a cat tent

Cats love to have a hiding place. Ask my boyfriend’s cat Minka. Since we made her a pet teepee we barely see her 🙂 She is always inside sleeping and resting! If you are willing to take that risk too, you can easily make a simple cat tent where your cat can go to hide and rest.

33. Make a blanket fort

Did you also make blanket forts when you were a child? I sure was and we had a great time building those and “living” in them!

If you want to refresh your memory of those fun childhood times and have fun with your cat, get those blankets out and start building the fort! Your cat will love hiding inside together with you.

34. Take your cat for a walk

If you have an indoor cat, you can take them for a walk on a leash. If your yard is closed, you might be able to get your cat out without the leash. Fortunately, where I live there are no roads with big traffic nor coyotes or any big threats so my cats are allowed to run around without a leash but they never go far from the house.

If you are not comfortable having your cat out without the leash or there are potential dangers around, it’s better to be on the safe side and use the leash. It is especially important to use a leash for your cat’s first visit outside, when you don’t know how they will react to the outdoors.

35. Make a cat catio

If your cat is an indoor cat only, chances are they will get bored from time to time. Cats like to run around, explore new things and see what the outside world offers, so a cat catio is a great way to allow your cat some outdoor time while keeping them safe.

If you’re not familiar with how cat catios work, it is basically a small enclosed outdoor space connected to your house so your cat can walk into it from the house and enjoy the outdoors. If your living conditions allow it, consider making a catio for your cat.

36. Agility course / indoor playground

Use pieces of furniture and household items to make an agility course where your cat has the jump, wriggle and bypass things. This will make the perfect exercise, plus it is a lot of fun.

You can also hide treats so that your cat has to do make an effort to get to the well-deserved treat.

Bonding

Bonding time with your cat

37. Cuddling time

There’s no better antistress session than cuddling with your kitty while they soothe you with their purrs and warm paws. Enjoy it!

38. Brushing your cat

Brushing your cat can be a great way of bonding and enjoying each other’s company. That is if your cat likes to be brushed. If they do, then you’ll get rid of excess cat hair that would end up all over the apartment, while you’re spending some quality time with your cat.

39. Talk to your cat

If you don’t already do this (I do), this is a great way to relax while you also give attention to your cat who might even talk back to you with their precious meows!

40. Give your cat a massage

That is if they let you! My Okica and my boyfriend’s cat Minka are not interested in things like that but your cat might be up for it! Instead of petting your cat as you usually do, give your cat the best massage ever.

Other ways to entertain your cat

Window bird feeder for cats to watch
(On the photo: Nature’s Hangout Window Bird Feeder from Amazon)

41. Put bird feeder at the window

Your cat will enjoy spending time watching the birds as they feed from the bird feeder attached to the window. It will be like their own cat HD TV! This is also a great way to keep your cat busy while you’re at work.

42. Provide a nice view on the outside

If you have a bit of room in front of your window, put the cat bed there so your cat can enjoy watching the world go by through the window.

If there’s not enough room to put the bed, I’ve seen a practical cat bed on Amazon that can be attached to the window with suction cups. This way your cat will get to enjoy the view while soaking up the sun.

43. Hire a pet sitter or get your family member to check on your cat

When you are away for long such as an entire day, your cat might start to miss your company and interacting with someone so having a sitter or a family member visit your cat once a day would help a lot. Try not to leave your cat by themselves for too long and especially not longer than 24 hours!

44. Plant an indoor cat garden

Cats love to chew cat grass but if they live indoors only, they don’t get that chance. Even though cats throw up after eating a lot of grass, it is actually really good for them. When they throw up, they also clear their digestive tract from any indigestible matter and also their own fur.

Growing cat grass in your house is really easy – you can see how to do it at Balcony Garden. But don’t confuse cat grass with other houseplants because many houseplants can be toxic to cats.

45. Play music to your cat

It seems that cats enjoy classical music the most, while rock and roll is not their favorite genre.

When you play music for your cat, keep it on low volume so it doesn’t irritate them, and observe their reactions because the type of music you like might not be the best choice for your feline.

46. Play videos that entertain cats

Technology doesn’t have to be for humans only! There are a bunch of awesome videos made for cats on YouTube that your cat would love to watch!

You can check this YouTube channel dedicated to cats or try some of these videos with birds:

47. Give your cat some catnip

Most cats like catnip and enjoy it very much. If your cat never had catnip, treat them with some of this exciting herb and see how they react. Most probably, your cat will be very amused! And so will you, because your cat will act even funnier that usually!

48. Make small catnip pillows

I’ve seen these small catnip filled pillows all over the Pinterest and they are totally cute. You can do one yourself if you know how to sew – you simply sew a small rectangle and fill it with catnip. The smell of catnip will get your cat hyper excited!

49. Use sisal rope to make more places to scratch

Put sisal rope around a piece of furniture so your cat has more places to scratch. This is also a good idea if your cat likes to scratch the furniture. If they have more places to sharpen their nails, they’ll not use your furniture as much.

You can get sisal rope for a few dollars and glue it around the coffee table leg, a piece of wood, or something else that can be used as a scratcher.

50. Have a party for your cat

Ok, this one is a bit more extreme but if your cat likes it, why not? You can prepare one special day for your furry feline!

Remeber that this party is for your cat and not you so you must do everything that your cat would enjoy and not you. For example, don’t invite a bunch of your friends because your cat couldn’t care less about them.

Let’s think… What does your cat love to do?

You can get a bunch of new boxes that you’ll place all over the room, make a few balls out of paper, decorate the apartment with colorful strings, play games…

Treat your cat with their favorite food and treats and just spend the day humoring your cat as they are a prince or a princess and you are their slave (so nothing different than any other day :D).

Or maybe adopt another cat?

If you’re very busy and away for a big part of the day and you only have one cat, they can easily get bored and lonely. You might want to consider adopting another cat to keep it company.

But keep in mind that some cats get used to being alone and can react negatively if you suddenly bring another cat into “their territory”. That is why you need to introduce two cats slowly to make sure they get accustomed to each other.

Spending quality time together = happy kitty

At the end of the day, the most important thing to keep your cat entertained and happy is to give them your loving attention every day. Cats might not seem as attached to humans as dogs but that doesn’t mean they don’t want out companionship.

Make sure to play with your cat for at least 10 minutes a day so you can develop a deep bond with your cat and keep them from getting bored out of their mind. If having a job or/and a family takes most of your day, it can easily happen that you don’t get to spend enough quality time with your cat every day. But 10 minutes is always possible to squeeze into your day, be it before you go to sleep, after dinner or first thing in the morning, while you sip your morning coffee.

I hope this list gave you some new ideas of all the things you can do to entertain your cat. If you liked the list, don’t forget to download your free 2-page printable with a list of 50 ways to entertain a cat so that you always have a reminder!

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28 comments

Marjorie at Dash Kitten March 7, 2018 - 7:47 am

I am so glad our cats have access to the garden! If I had worth this hard to keep them occupied I would be worn out. I am thrilled this is a printable though, having the list to available for inspiration will save plenty of cats from boredom.

Well done on finding so much inspiration.

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Monika March 7, 2018 - 9:07 am

Of course, nobody will do all of these 50 things to keep their cat entertained. It would be too time-consuming 😀 It is merely a list of ideas so everyone can find something for themselves and their cat, even if it’s just 1 thing 🙂

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Sonja of Montecristo Travels March 7, 2018 - 2:58 pm

I am going to share this with the cat lovers inner lives. Some really fun and new ones here. Great job with this post! I may have even been inspired for a few things that could work for tiny dogs!

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Lola The Rescued Cat March 7, 2018 - 3:33 pm

What great tips! OUr mom talks to us ALL the time and we love it! Especially me- I meow back at her all the time! My sister Lexy loves a good paper bag. She can play in it for hours.

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Monika March 9, 2018 - 8:28 am

Yeah, paper bags rock! 🙂

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kelly March 7, 2018 - 4:01 pm

Wow, what a fantastic list of entertainment options to keep our kitties busy and happy!
I’m going to try some of these suggestions with my 2 cats, I’m sure they will have a great time and will get lots of exercise too 🙂

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Monika March 9, 2018 - 8:30 am

I’m glad you got some ideas to try out from my list. I hope your kitties will love it!

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Nichole March 7, 2018 - 4:29 pm

We don’t have cats, but many of these certainly can transfer to dogs too! I love all the stimulation games. This can be fun for the whole family! And yes, my dogs love watching the birds too!

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Kamira G. March 7, 2018 - 4:55 pm

If anyone was ever at a loss how to entertain their cat, this list is purrfect! It really didn’t take to much to keep my furkids entertained except a empty cardboard box or lightweight paper toys, LOL. Will definitely share this post with my cat loving feline friends.

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Seville at Nerissa's Life March 7, 2018 - 5:57 pm

My peeps try very hard to keep my fur-sibs and me entertained. They’ve learned the hard way. Bored kitties get into mischief and when a kitty like me gets bored… Well let’s just say, that’s why Nissy and I invented eggbeater-whisk time travellin’ teleportation technology. MOUSES!

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Joely Smith March 7, 2018 - 6:55 pm

This article ROCKS!! I am totally bookmarking to reference!
I must get that 5 in 1 activity toy!
My cats favorite thing I have seen on your list so far at least is “catching” the hair bands!

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Jana Rade March 8, 2018 - 12:14 am

Wow, that is a huge list! Fantastic; kitties need entertainment too. Just imagine laying around all day not having anything to do.

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Monika March 9, 2018 - 8:25 am

So true. It gets boring not having anything to do all day, even if you sleep 16 hours a day.

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Amelia Johnson March 8, 2018 - 2:44 pm

These are all excellent tips! I loved pet sitting for a family of cats that had their own jungle gym and could hide or come out and play ball with me. I never knew whether they would put their play mice in the water bowl to drown them…always had me laughing.

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Sadie March 8, 2018 - 3:45 pm

This is a great list – thank you! I will definitely print, and also share this as a reminder. Cats enjoy mental and physical stimulation as much as dogs. Perhaps even more than some dogs.

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Monika March 8, 2018 - 5:38 pm

I am glad you like it! 🙂

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Monika March 9, 2018 - 8:23 am

I think cats need it even more since they don’t go on daily walks like dogs 🙂

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Sweet Purrfections March 8, 2018 - 5:08 pm

These are great ideas to try and keep cats entertained. I do find that my cats need a variety of stimuli. One day, it may be a catnip toy and the next day, it may be an interactive toy. They do entertain each other to the point of being irritating sometimes.

You have some beautiful photos! I wish I could get as clear of photos are you are getting!

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Monika March 8, 2018 - 5:32 pm

Unfortunately, these are not my kitties nor my photos. The photos I take using my phone are so awful that they are not for the public eye. I should really get a phone with a better camera 😀

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Beth March 9, 2018 - 4:47 am

What great suggestions! I’m going to share this with my cat loving friends. My cat is a senior and has never been very cat like, but I’ll try some of these and try to wake his inner feline. (We think he suffered neurological damage when he was a stray 15 years ago.)

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Monika March 9, 2018 - 8:22 am

Oh, poor little guy. I hope some of these will help motivate your kitty to play.

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Rachel March 11, 2018 - 7:15 pm

What wonderful ideas! I love the idea of a catio or an indoor cat garden! I think cats would love that!

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Carl October 1, 2018 - 5:27 am

Thank you! Very well thought out and well written. I enjoyed your ideas and will use several of them. I appreciate the work you put into this…

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Monika October 4, 2018 - 12:07 pm

Thank you for your kind words 🙂

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T. February 27, 2020 - 6:29 am

Hi there,

I love the content, and would like to download the pdf that you mentioned, but I cannot find it anywhere on the website.

Please put a link up for it! 🙂

Thank you

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Monika February 27, 2020 - 5:45 pm

Hi, there is a form in the post to enter an email and then you receive the printable. I sent it to your email now 🙂

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Robin April 30, 2020 - 2:23 pm

Good article, however #24 concerns me about the balloons. What person in their right mind would do this to a cat? Cats are easily frightened and the popping of the balloon, which will happen, will scare the bejesus out of them. Not to mention if they try to eat any pieces, this can choke them or if swallowed block their intestines. One more note, you may want to edit the spelling of “ceiling” in that comment.

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Monika April 30, 2020 - 3:19 pm

Thank you for your comment, Robin. I didn’t consider that balloons can be a choking hazard for cats and you are right, I’ll remove that suggestion from the list.

Reply

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