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    Fun for Cats

    Authored by Jodi Helmer

    Your cat might love napping in the sunshine but sleeping 24/7 isn’t good for their physical or mental health. In fact, your cat’s wellbeing depends on having opportunities to explore, engage in their environment and be entertained. 

    Cats and depression

    Just like their humans, cats can get depressed. Illness, boredom or loss of a family member can make for a sad cat. It's not always clear when an animal is feeling depressed, here are some things to look out for:

    • Changes in eating habits or not eating
    • Sleeping more than usual
    • Lack of grooming
    • Change in vocalization such as mournful and low-pitched yowls, excessive purring or becoming more quieter than usual
    • Becoming clingy or avoidant

    If you notice differences in your feline friend, you may have a depressed cat. 

    7 ways to entertain cats

    If boredom is the case, you could grab a leash and harness and take them for a walk, but there are also ways to supply mental stimulation indoors. Here are 7 ways to entertain your cat:

    1. Improve the view

    Set up a cat tree near the window or affix a cat hammock to the glass so your cat has a special spot to take in their surroundings. 

    Cats will use their private perch to watch the neighborhood goings on and dream of hunting the birds and squirrels outside the window. Giving them a front row seat to what’s going outside is a surefire way to prevent boredom; it’s like having the nature channel on all day.

    2. Go higher

    Cats love to climb. You can tap into that natural instinct (and protect the furniture and curtains) by providing a cat tree. The taller the cat tree, the more it will satisfy their climbing cravings.

    Some cat trees have hammocks, scratching posts, dangling toys and hiding spots built in to offer even more mental stimulation. One study found that adding shelving units to give cats vertical space to explore led to less antisocial behavior among cats. 

    3. Provide toys

    Nothing makes cats want to run, chase and pounce like balls, plush mice and catnip toys that tap into their innate hunting instincts. You can even buy robotic mice and other automated toys that have motion sensors to encourage your cat to play even when you’re not home.

    4. Switch it up

    Avoid the temptation to give your cat access to all their toys at the same time. Instead, put out a few toys at a time and swap them out every few weeks so your cat benefits from the novelty of always having something new to play with.

    5. Play games

    More than 45 percent of cat owners think their feline friends are overweight or obese and their sedentary lifestyles are often to blame. Playing with laser pointers and wand toys will is a great way to get your cat moving and increasing physical activity not only burns calories, it busts boredom, too.

    With a little practice, you can teach your cat to play fetch, hide and seek and other interactive games that are important for their wellbeing.

    6. Make mealtime a puzzle

    Instead of pouring kibble into a bowl, use a puzzle feeder that requires your cat to bat it around to release their food. It’s a great exercise and forces your cat to use their mind (and hunting instincts) to access their food.

    You can also put treats in a puzzle feeder but remember that treats should make up no more than 10 percent of your cat’s daily diet so don’t overdo it.

    7. Take a hike

    Not all cats will enjoy wearing a harness and leash and going for walks—but some cats consider outdoor walks a grand adventure. 

    If you want to try leash training your cat, start slowly: Put the harness on at home and let your cat wear it around for a while to get used to it and then attach the leash and “walk” them around the house. Once your cat feels comfortable with the harness and leash, progress to short outdoor visits before moving to longer walks (or even hikes).

    The more entertainment opportunities you provide for your cat, the happier and healthier they will feel.

    More cat care knowledge

    Cats communicate with their tails. Read more to learn what your cat's tail is telling you and what you can do to respect their furry space.
    Does your cat sleep several hours a day? Find out if your kittens habits are normal.