Category Archives: Cat toys

How to Keep an Indoor Cat Happy


By Julia Williams

Until recently, I didn’t believe an indoor cat could be happy. I thought that “depriving” a cat of the outdoors would surely make them depressed, lethargic and overweight. I saw how much my own country kitties enjoyed climbing trees, fences and trellises, lounging in the garden, and hunting the ever-prolific gophers on our five acre field.

Then we moved back to the small town of my childhood, and my cats became primarily indoor cats. They were scared at first, and hid in the bedroom closet for a week. I wasn’t going to let them go out for at least a month anyway. When they finally did come out of the closet, my California born-and-raised cats took one sniff of the cool Montana air and must’ve decided then and there that being indoors suited them just fine. And when the snow came, it pretty much sealed the deal.

I worried that they’d hate being inside and cease to be the joyful kitties I knew and loved, but soon realized that my concerns were unwarranted. In fact, to my surprise they now show little interest in going outside, even when offered the opportunity. I did make some adjustments to their indoor environment however, to make it as kitty-hospitable as possible. The key to keeping an indoor cat happy, it seems, is providing them with plenty of stimulation and attention, along with an enriched environment.

So what does that entail, exactly? I keep my indoor kitties stimulated by having lots of different cat toys for them to play with. I bring home a huge bag of Christmas clearance cat toys from my local pet store every January, and rarely spend more than $10. Some of those toys have a holiday theme of course, but the cats don’t know the difference or care, and neither do I.

The important thing to remember about cat toys is that every kitty is different; for example, mine go crazy for furry mice but get bored with balls in a nanosecond. If I buy assortments that have balls in them I give those to my sister, whose cats love to bat balls. Soon enough you’ll discover which types of toys your cat likes best, and you can get more of those.

Another other thing to keep in mind is that you need to rotate your cat toys frequently. Once a week I swap out all the toys with others that I keep in the “cat toy drawer.” In a feline’s world, this is like getting brand new toys to play with every week.

I also buy them toys that require human participation – like mice-on-a-stick, lasers, and cat “fishing” poles – which accomplishes both the stimulation and attention aspect. I also try to give each of my three cats my undivided attention every day, no matter how busy I am. I brought these cats into my family because I wanted to give them love and a good home, and I owe it to them to pay attention to them. Now that they’re primarily indoor cats, they are a bit needier and they crave more attention than they did before, so I adjusted to accommodate them.

Besides playing with them, you can also give your cats attention by having petting sessions, lap time, and grooming time. As with the toys, you need to discover what your cat likes the most, and do more of that. Annabelle loves to be brushed and combed (that’s an understatement), so this is what I do for her time. Mickey loves to sit on my lap, so I let him, even if it means I have to sit two feet away from my keyboard. Rocky prefers plain vanilla petting, so he gets that.

The third aspect to keeping an indoor kitty content is an enriched environment. In other words, you need to provide things besides toys that make them happy. My cats like to lie on the back of the sofa and watch the birds, so I placed a comfy sheepskin kitty mat there to contain the cat hair. You can also buy window perches that accomplish the same thing. You might want to get them a cozy cat bed or cat “donut” to sleep in, too. If your kitty likes to nibble on grass, it’s easy to grow special cat greens for them.

Cat towers and cat condos are a great way to provide your cat with a place to nap, scratch, climb, play and perch, all in one day! It’s also a good idea to provide your indoor cat with various scratching surfaces— I have several styles of corrugated cardboard scratchers, as well as a carpeted scratching post. I’ve learned that when it comes to cats, you really can’t have too many scratching posts!

My cats are probably not as happy indoors as they were outdoors, but they are happy enough. Given that indoor cats live longer and are typically healthier, that is good enough for me.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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How to Save Money on Cat Toys

Kittens are naturally more rambunctious than adults, but all cats love to play. Even “senior” cats enjoy playing with their favorite toy in-between naptime. Consequently, cat toys are an important element of good feline care. Cat toys do more than just entertain your kitty, though; they also give your cat an outlet for excess energy, provide needed exercise (especially important for indoor cats), and can be a fun way to bond with your cat. However, this doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune on toys for cats. 
Since how to save money is on just about every person’s mind nowadays, I wanted to share some economical ways to keep your kitty entertained. There are basically three ways to spend less on toys for cats. The first one is seasonal: shop the after-Christmas clearance sales at your local pet stores. Most carry an inventory of holiday gifts for pets, such as stockings filled with cat toys or individual items that have a holiday theme. Last year I came home with a huge bag of cat toys that were 75% off, and I paid less than $10 for all of it. 
My three felines probably have enough cat toys to last a lifetime now. If not, my second idea for how to save money on cat toys involves buying inexpensive items that cats love to play with. My favorite of these is ping pong balls, which have an unpredictably wild bounce that cats find irresistible. If you buy them in bulk, they can cost as little as 25 cents each, and also won’t get stepped on later. Straws are another feline favorite in my house. I found this out after I caught my cat Rocky stealing them right out of my drink! He loves to flip the straw up in the air and try to catch it. 
If your cat enjoys catnip (some do, some don’t), you can buy some fabric and catnip to make homemade catnip toys. Little pillow-shaped catnip toys are what I usually make, because they’re incredibly easy to assemble. Just cut out two squares of fabric (about 3”), sew three sides closed, fill it with catnip and sew the fourth side shut. If you don’t like to sew, you can also fill a child’s sock with catnip, tie a knot in it and voila! Instant homemade cat toy.
My third idea for how to save money on cat toys (and my personal favorite) involves using readily available materials found in your home. Once you understand what makes a good cat toy – things that roll, bounce, simulate “prey” or make noise – the potential for free homemade cat toys is practically limitless. Crumple a piece of paper into a ball and throw it across the room for your cat to chase. My sister’s cat will even bring it back, over and over. None of my cats will fetch the paper ball, but they will run after it and bat it around for a bit. 
A piece of string or twine is the ultimate cheap cat toy. My cats will chase a string around the house for hours, and they’ll jump up for it if I dangle the string several feet from the floor. I also like to tie one of their furry mice to the end and drag it around so they can chase after it. It’s very important, though, to always put the string away when you’re done playing, because your cat might swallow it and become ill. 
Paper sacks are another classic cat toy that doesn’t cost a penny, and I’ve never met a kitty that didn’t like to get into them and rustle around. If you have 35mm film canisters, you can fill them with anything that rattles, such as pebbles, pasta or beans. Just make sure the lid is on tight before giving it to your kitty. Boxes are another great free cat toy. You can even construct a kitty playhouse by fastening several large boxes together. Cut out holes for your cat to walk through and stick their paws through, and place the box upside down on the floor. 
Empty toilet paper tubes make excellent toys for cats. I have a similar tube that is thicker, sturdier, and about half the length. I can’t remember where it came from initially, but I saved it because I knew my cats would enjoy playing with it, and they do. Before you throw anything away, you should always ask yourself if the item might somehow become a cat toy. There’s a very good chance that it can, and your kitty will have just as much fun playing with his homemade cat toy as he will with a store-bought one. That’s the beauty of cats – they’re easy to please, at least when it comes to their toys!

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.