If you notice that your cat has been behaving weirdly lately, it might be a sign that your pet is bored. If you want to learn how to entertain a cat in a small apartment, the first thing that you should understand is that space should never be a constraint in fulfilling your goal.
How to entertain your cat in your small apartment
Compared to dogs, cats make better apartment pets. For one, they do not require plenty of space. In general, cats need about 18 square feet of space.
Second, cats can be trained to use the litter box. That means that you can leave your cat home without worrying about cleaning pee or poop once you get back. You do not need to walk around the block just to let your pet do his business.
Finally, cats are more or less self-sufficient and do not require as many resources as keeping a dog.
However, that does not mean that you can adopt a cat and expect him to live happily without making changes in your apartment and spending quality time with him.
Cats need both mental and physical stimulation to make them thrive and prevent unwanted behaviors. And to do that, you have to exert an effort to keep your cat entertained.
Here are seven ways to entertain your cat in a small apartment:
1. Create vertical space in your home
Cats like to hang out or even sleep atop high places. A lot of this goes back to their ancestry.
In the wild, the ancestors of your cats sought high places for a few reasons. For one, these places provided them with a good vantage point to spot their next prey. Second, being perched high up provided them with ample protection against sneak attacks from other predators who may attempt to steal their quarry or prey upon them.
Even after years of domestication, cats have retained their penchant for hanging around high places. And in fact, if you want to keep your cat entertained in your small home, one of the best things that you can provide your pet and enrich his living is to give him vertical space.
The easiest way to do that is to buy cat trees where he can lounge around on, sleep on, or even retreat to when he feels the urge to be alone.
But if space is a constraint in your home or if you do not want cat trees to become a dominant fixture of your apartment’s interior design, you can create vertical space by installing shelves.
Install a few shelves strategically around your home so your cat will have different options. Plus, these shelves can serve as bridges, enabling your cat to go safely from one spot to another.
In the kitchen, you might want to clear the top of the refrigerator from household items so that your pet can use this as a perch while you are working in the kitchen.
2. Make some space for him by the window
Another simple but effective way to keep your cat entertained in your small apartment, especially when you are at work, is to allow him to sit by the window.
To most people, the idea of sitting by the window and watching people and cars go by may seem boring. But to your cat, the window is like the equivalent of a television, keeping him entertained for hours. Your cat can entertain himself by watching people, other cats, vehicles, and other animals pass by.
To encourage your cat to stay by the window and watch the outside world, you should make sure that there is enough space for him. Start by clearing the window sill of objects that your cat can knock off.
If there is not enough space to accommodate your furry little pal near the window, consider adding a small shelf on to the window sill. Alternatively, you can move a small table or chair that is high enough that can serve as your cat’s perch.
To boost your cat’s comfort while he is watching the outside world, especially during the cooler months, you can lay down a soft blanket for him.
3. Start an indoor garden
Cats are obligate carnivores. That simply means that your cat’s diet should consist mostly of proteins. That does not mean that cats do not enjoy a bite or two off plants.
Felines are known to enjoy eating plants, especially the young and tender parts, for a variety of reasons. These reasons include the desire to add fiber or other nutrients to their diets or even just for the taste.
Cultivating an indoor garden is a good way to enrich your cat’s life. However, you should be aware that there are plenty of houseplants, including some of the popular ones, that are poisonous to felines.
Among the best plants to grow for your cat’s indoor garden are:
- Kitty grass
- Spider plant
4. Invest in scratching posts
There are a few main reasons why cats love scratching surfaces.
First, cats need to scratch surfaces so that they can remove the old layer coating their claws. Second, scratching helps felines mark their territories. Your pet’s paws contain scent glands that enable your cat to leave his mark on the surfaces that he scratches. Finally, scratching is a good way for cats to exercise their bodies.
And although there is not much that you can do to completely stop your cat from scratching, the next best thing that you can do is to redirect this behavior. To prevent your cat from scratching furniture, you should invest in scratching posts that you should place strategically around your home.
Place scratching posts in areas that you frequent. Cats love to scratch the pieces of furniture because you spend the most time around these. And when he scratches these, he is staking his claim on these.
Buy scratching posts that offer your cat a variety of positions, including horizontal, vertical, and inclined positions.
5. Make time for playtime
Cats may seem independent and aloof. But all cats crave the attention of their humans. Apart from grooming, playing with your cat is one of the best ways to reinforce your bond with your cat and provide for his mental and physical needs.
Ideally, you should spend at least half an hour playing with your furry little pal. You can break this amount of time into smaller chunks and spread this throughout different times of the day. For example, you can play with your cat before and after work.
One great game you can play with your cat is to hide his favorite treats around your home. This game will engage your cat’s hunting instincts, allowing him to make use of his highly-developed senses, especially his sense of smell.
Invest in multiple toys for your cats. Cats tend to get bored when they play with the same toys over and over again. Buy plenty of toys but hide most of these. When your cat loses interest in the toys he plays with, you can use the other toys that you have hidden.
You might also want to invest in a puzzle feeder, especially if you spend a substantial amount of time away from your home. This type of feeder will keep your cat engaged for a long time.
6. Provide your pet with a sanctuary
Although your cat likes spending time with you, whether to play or just to cuddle, he may still want to spend some time alone.
As such, you should provide him with his private space where he can run to if he seeks solace. This space need not be expansive.
A corner of one room will often do. And to boost his privacy and comfort, you can buy an enclosed cat bed.
7. Consider adding another cat to your home
If resources permit and if you are ready for the added responsibility, you might want to consider adopting another cat.
Although there are a few drawbacks, adding another cat to your home offers some advantages.
Although cats are often portrayed as grumpy loners, they are capable of forming bonds with other felines. Having another feline around means that your resident cat gets a playmate. Both cats can stimulate each other physically and mentally.
Getting another cat can also help your resident feline become properly socialized. In turn, this helps your original pet curb unacceptable behavior which often stems from boredom.
Furthermore, caring for two cats is essentially the same as caring for just one. And in some cases, that workload can be reduced, especially in terms of entertaining your resident cat as you now have another feline to help you.
Creating the right environment for your cat
Apart from entertaining your cat, there are a few other things that you can do to enrich his life and make him comfortable inside your small apartment.
For starters, you should keep your home, including his litter box clean. You can have the biggest home in the world and your cat will be unhappy if your home is downright filthy. Keep your home clean and clean your pet’s litter box regularly.
And speaking of the litter box, you should find the right location for it. Cats like privacy when they use their litter boxes. If space is a limited commodity in your home, you can place the litter box out in the open and conceal it with camouflage.
Your cat should also have an extra litter box. The rule of thumb is that for each cat you own, you should have one for each plus an additional one. This ensures that your cat has one litter box available if he does not like to use the other one.
Signs that your cat is bored
Your cat may not be able to tell you directly that he is bored. However, he can leave clues that indicate his boredom.
Cats tend to overgroom themselves when they are bored. The problem with overgrooming is that it creates an unhealthy cycle. On one hand, your cat is licking, biting, or chewing his fur and skin. And that can lead to skin irritation or even infections. When the skin becomes irritated or infected, the more your pet will groom himself.
Fighting other pets
If you have other pets at home, your bored cat can stalk and chase them. And a bored cat does not choose which pet to annoy. There are bored cats that will prey upon dogs several sizes larger than them.
Sure, cats spend most of their time sleeping and doing nothing. But when a cat is bored he will not engage in other activities that he usually does, except for eating. If your cat seems to be uninterested and inactive, consider visiting the vet to rule out medical issues.
On the converse side of the coin, some bored cats find ways to entertain themselves. And often, not in a cute way. If your cat has become destructive, preying upon furniture, the curtains, and other household items, he may be channeling his boredom.
Like humans, bored cats tend to overeat as a way of coping with the lack of mental and physical stimulation. If your cat seems to be begging for more food, it might be a sign that you need to enrich his environment and life.
Beyond the basics
It is not enough to provide your cat with just his basic needs like food and shelter. Beyond that, you should provide for his other needs, especially mental and physical stimulation.
It is not cruel to have only one cat as long as all of his needs are met. And it does not take much to keep your pet happy and content.
Image: istockphoto.com / Svetlana Sultanaeva