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Indoor Cats Need Outdoor Simulations — Do These 5 Things To Prevent “Cooped Up Cat” Behaviors

Felines have a need for nature.


Your indoor cat has adapted to your human home. That doesn’t mean, however, that she doesn’t crave the stimulation that the outdoors provides. But given all the threats cats face from other predators and road traffic, and the predatory menace they represent to small mammals and birds, your best bet for achieving this is bringing the wild inside. Here are five great indoor cat activities to give them a taste of the outside world.

1. Provide a great view of the jungle outside.

Make sure a perch is available for your cat so he can jump up, sit on a sill, and look outside — a view of the outdoors from a special window, with access to sounds and scents of nature would be ideal. Even a city tree with squirrels and birds will keep your kitty enthralled for hours. Just keep the shade up when you leave home.

2. Awaken the inner hunter.

Even a cat that never goes outdoors has the urge to hunt. That means toys on sticks that move and dart like little animals. Your cat needs your involvement here too, obviously. Only a human like you can make her toys move like a real bird, mouse, or bug.

3. Build a catio.

If you have a little yard space, you can create a wood or metal screened patio for your feline companion. The thrill of being safely immersed in nature while he observes prey animals he might otherwise hunt provides the best of both worlds for all parties. You can buy a ready-made catio or build one yourself; instructions on how to do so abound online.

4. Let her roam.

In the wild, cats are used to roaming a fair amount of territory and exploring multiple levels from the ground to the trees. Your cat will do best if she can roam as well through your house or apartment, especially if you provide scratching posts, boxes to hide in, and a climbing structure that reaches almost to the ceiling. It’s not the jungle, but good enough to keep your kitty happy and fit.

5. Put on a TV show.

A new raft of shows made specifically for cats can be engaging and stimulating for brief periods of time. Just remember that content matters and human TV can do your cat more harm than good. We especially recommend searching for cat-specific TV from the Cat Entertainment channel on YouTube. Three selections that our editors especially love include The Ultimate Cat TV Video: An Hour of Birds by Paul Dinning, Eight Hours of Birds and Squirrels by Birder King and Mouse Videos by Paul Dinning.

A version of this article appeared in our partner magazine, Inside Your Cat’s Mind, in 2022.

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