A bored cat is a destructive cat. Many pet parents know if cats are left unattended, they can wreak havoc on a house or apartment. A cat that lacks appropriate mental stimulation and exercise will attack your houseplants, which can sometimes be toxic to them, can shred your curtains, and turn a fancy chair into a pile of shredded stuffing and upholstery tassels.
Make a Feline Amusement Park
When kittens play, the thrill is obviously stalking, pouncing and “hunt” stimulating. Since cats are predators, their natural instincts are to stalk, chase, and catch their prey. Cats are also crepuscular, a special type of nocturnal which means they are most active from dusk to dawn. They make the best use of their agility, speed, and incredible acrobatics while you are asleep. A younger cat will often do these on top of you at night. It’s one of their annoying but adorable qualities.
One solution to this (and possibly preventing those 3 a.m. toe attacks), is to build a feline jungle gym or playroom. You can go the high-tech route or upcycle/recycle items to create a cat playground that gives a cat the stimulation and excitement they need to be happy.
Here are some tips for creating a healthy environment for you and your feline companion, while both providing a recreation area for your cat and keeping your home stylish!
DIY Construction Tricks
If you have an indoor cat, they typically have less places to climb up high to be king or queen to survey everything. In general, cats like to have a high vantage point from where they can view their immediate environment.
You can modify your home with simple construction. One of the best (and best-looking) ways for your cat to exercise and climb is by building a set of cat shelves or cat stairs. The concept is similar to installing bookshelves, only in an ascending pattern up the wall that your cat will enjoy.
Saucy Dwellings features an article on how to build your own cat shelves using modified Ikea furniture. Even unmodified furniture can become a cat’s favorite amusement park ride. If you’re a weekend DIY’er and enjoy construction projects, you can find plans like these at Ikea Hackers. This type of cat environment gives your kitty all sorts of places to climb and jump from, as well as providing you with some additional storage. Cat stairs and shelves serve double purpose for us and our pets.
Using a similar concept, Etsy seller “Like Kittysville” designed a collapsible medium density fiberboard holiday tree and made the plans available online for free. Another great source of inspiration can be drawn from The Cat’s House, an online folio of a home that was redesigned to accommodate its four-legged residents.
If you are not handy with tools or allen wrenches and hate following pictograms and doing DIY, there are also ready-made cat shelves at many pet retailers. You can even just hang individual stable shelves vertically and diagonally staggered up part of the wall so your cat can walk up and discover them. It need not be fancy; it just needs to fascinate and engage your cat.
Up and Down
When thinking about ideas to create a playroom for your feline, remember the most important aspect – your cat’s happiness and needs. That is why it is best to design a room where your feline will feel at home, either at rest or at play.
You can simply choose a specific room or an area to stock with your kitties’ favorite toys and essentials. Sometimes by simply installing a feline scratching post or tree, your favorite couch or table will be spared from the claws of a cat suffering from ennui and looking to show its contempt for its doldrums!
While younger cats typically like a tall structure they can climb and stretch their claws out on, older pets will be less prone to acrobatics, so a lower piece of cat furniture with a hammock or such and a lower height may be preferable. If you have multiple cats of varying ages, provide both options and let the cats decide their favorite play spot and vantage place.
Try observing their behavior to choose the type of scratching post they will enjoy the most. Do they prefer to stretch up and out while cleaning claws on a surface, or do they prefer to knead at ground level? The simple vertical or horizontal orientation of a scratching post will encourage a cat to use it more.
The more active a cat is, the more he’ll appreciate scratching posts. You can either purchase or make your own scratching post. If your cat is older or has a more laid-back personality, you might consider getting a horizontal or ground level scratcher.
High Tech Cat Amusement
Remote-controlled play time can benefit many cats and can also have anxiety-reducing benefits. For the humans logging in to play with the cats, they get to watch their cats pouncing and playing in their home environment.
Cats are very social creatures and can become depressed if they are left alone for long periods of time. There are a variety of interactive cat toys available. You can also stock your cat’s playroom with laser pointers, or engage their nighttime hunting instincts with toys that light up realistically in the dark, or even a light-up mat to keep them entertained in the wee hours of the morning. Many toys are motion activated and will respond to the cat via sensors. So even if you need to sleep, the cat will still have a wiggling feather teaser they can chase around.
Reuse and Recycle
You don’t have to break the bank to create a feline playroom. Many cat toys and grooming options are made from recycled items, and many cat diversions can be easily made with just a couple craft supplies or even free by up-cycling items from your home.
The Learning Channel provides a list of household items, many that you probably already have in your home, which can be up-cycled and reused as cat toys. Do you have old cardboard boxes or holey socks? By constructing a cardboard cat fort and stuffing those single or holey socks with catnip, you now have a toy your cat will love!
You can also purchase a copy of the book “Make Your Own Cat Toys” and discover great ways to create simple, earth-friendly toys. With a little creativity, you can create fun for your cat out of things you have on hand and make trash into kitty treasures! Your cat doesn’t care where its toy came from or how much they cost, only that it’s fun and frolic-worthy!
Family Quality Time
One of the best things you share with your cat is the bond of love and affection – and cats love to play with you! Playtime with your cat increases that bond for both of you and relieves stress as well. Indoor cats will adapt their sleep cycle to spend time with you, even if they take over the entire bed.
Regardless of what tips and tricks you use to create a special stimulating and play-friendly space for your cat, don’t forget to involve yourself in their playroom! Get involved in feline fun with feather toys, string toys and even grooming mitts. Add to the excitement by blowing catnip-flavored bubbles for them to leap up and catch. Interacting with your cat during its playtime will make you laugh and make kitty love you more.
Ultimately, one of the responsibilities as a great cat owner is making sure your cat is happy and has fun being a cat. This means ensuring your beloved cat is mentally stimulated and content. Now get busy making pom poms out of freshly washed, old t-shirts by hanging them on doorknobs….an octopus of fun for your cat to flail around and wrestle with!