How to keep your cat happy indoors, especially during winter

February 26, 2024

a person with black hair petting a gray cat

Cats love exploring the sights and scents of the great outdoors. An increasing number of Americans are keeping their cats indoors, however. This isn’t a bad thing: Indoor cats encounter fewer dangers compared to outdoor cats. Even if you let your cat go outside regularly or occasionally, you likely keep them inside during bad weather or in the winter.

You can keep your cat happier indoors by taking the time to design a space that appeals to their urge to roam. With a few changes to your environment and routine, your cat will still have the adventures they need to be mentally and physically fit.

1. Make a cozy retreat

Few cats can resist the lure of a soft blanket and sunny window. Your home’s temperature might be comfortable for you, but cats tend to prefer warmer environments. Set up a cozy spot for your furry friend to enjoy a peaceful snooze in the sun. Cat beds, cat trees, window sill pads, and installed perches are all great choices.

You’ll get bonus points from your cat if the spot includes a scenic window through which they can enjoy “CatTV.” Place a bird feeder or squirrel feeder or just toss some birdseed on the ground outside to get the action started.

2. Keep them active

Cats might have a well-earned reputation for laziness, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need exercise. Most cats benefit from at least 30 minutes of active play a day, broken up into 10-minute sessions. Build a kitty gym by “catifying” your home with shelves, cat towers, and suspended beds.

Your cat will also get a lot out of interactive play. Not only is interactive play a good way to get your cat up and moving, but it also strengthens your bond with them. Use spring toys, puffballs, wand toys, kickers, or catnip toys to mimic natural hunting behaviors and get your cat up and moving.

Any exercise program should also include mental stimulation. Cats are natural and passionate hunters. Choose toys that closely mimic the thrill of the hunt: small mice, feathered toys, and floppy fish. Add a food puzzle to encourage your cat to think through an action to get the reward, much like they would hunt and then consume their prey.

3. Give them a taste of the outdoors

Even indoor cats love the thrill of the outdoors. Outside there is a whirlwind of smells and sights: small animals, grass, birds, wild catmint, and other strange and exotic delights, from your cat’s perspective. While you might not want to let your cat explore freely, you can bring the outside in by opening the windows to allow a scent-filled breeze to stimulate your cat. You can also add a secure "catio" to your porch or patio so that your cat can explore safely. Some cats even enjoy going on walks: Simply use a securely fitted cat harness and leash to keep your cat at your side as you explore together. If your cat isn’t thrilled about the leash, consider a cat stroller to enjoy an occasional walk and expand your cat’s horizons.

About Cozy Cat Suites

At Cozy Cat Suites cat boarding in Herndon, VA, we’re all about cats. We understand what makes them purr and pounce, and we specialize in creating a cat-friendly environment to care for your kitty when you can’t. Our cat boarding in Herndon offers a variety of suites with activities, equipment, and more to keep your cat cozy, comfy, and safe. We also offer cat grooming that includes brushing, bathing, nail trims, and more. Contact us today to find out more about keeping your cat happy indoors or to make a reservation for cat boarding in Northern Virginia.