It’s something the 45.3 million American households owning at least one cat know all too well: you have to provide mental stimulation for your pet. Bored felines will find ways to entertain themselves. Not all are appropriate, and some are even destructive. That’s particularly true with kittens that won’t hesitate to climb your curtains.
Fortunately, you have two things going for you. First, cats usually adjust their activity to your schedule. However, there are both good and bad sides to that coin. Second, you have options to give them all the entertainment they could want. The caveat is that you may need to use more than one and swap them out once in a while.
How to Keep Your Cat Entertained While Working From Home
1. Interactive Toys
Cats are intelligent animals that are good at the skills they need to be felines, including hunting. An indoor pet misses out on these opportunities. However, you can replicate them with interactive toys that challenge them mentally. Ones that dispense treats are especially effective because they teach cats the association between behavior and reward. We’ll discuss how to use this concept later.
The trick with using interactive toys is knowing that cats get bored with something quickly. We suggest getting a few different kinds and swapping them out occasionally to keep your kitty entertained. The old one will seem brand new when it’s been absent for a while.
2. Well-Placed Bird Feeder
A well-placed bird feeder will provide hours of entertainment for your cat. Birds typically visit a feeder frequently during the hours that your pet is also likely awake and active. We suggest following the 5-7-9 rule to keep squirrels away. That means situating the feeder at least 5 feet high, 7 feet from any trees or other potential launching pads, and 9 feet down from overhanging branches.
3. Window Seat
If you want to let your cat watch what’s going on all day, put up a window perch. Your pet will like observing what’s going on outdoors. Undoubtedly, there’s always a lot of activity, whether it’s the neighborhood kids playing, squirrels chasing each other, or songbirds visiting the feeder. You’ll likely find that your cat will make it its favorite place to nap while you’re away.
4. Paper Bag Toy
If your cat is anything like ours, it’s probably more interested in the bag you brought a toy home in than what’s inside it. That’s because crawling in a bag provides the same comfort it may know from being in a hiding place in the wild. Of course, the same applies to boxes. It gives them a sense of security and an excellent vantage point to watch for unsuspecting prey.
Speaking of boxes, we also like to leave a flattened one out for our pets to use as a makeshift scratching post. The cardboard provides a suitable way for our cats to use up all that pent-up energy appropriately.
5. Kitty TV
Some cats pay attention to what they see on TV, particularly if it’s something darting across the screen. That’s where feline vision exceeds ours. You can get a DVD of action sounds and scenes that will perk your pet’s attention and provide the necessary mental stimulation for preventing boredom. We suggest using your smart TV to schedule it to play at specific times instead of all day long.
6. Toys That Move
Toys that move are especially attractive to cats, particularly if they involve a hide-and-seek type of motion. It makes the movement less predictable to them, keeping them entertained. Many products have different speed settings to make them even more fun for your pet. Again, we must return to the caveat we mentioned earlier.
Cats are intelligent and will figure out some toys quickly. Switching them out occasionally will prevent your pet from getting bored with them and allow you to get more use out of them.
7. Outdoor Access
When we say outdoor access, we’re not implying letting your cat outside while you’re at work. We strongly believe felines should stay indoors to protect themselves and wild birds. Instead, leave a screened window cracked that your cat can get to easily. The air coming in will bring a whole new world of smells for your pet to enjoy.
We recommend opening a window only an inch or so high. Cats don’t need much room to squeeze through to make an escape.
8. Pheromone Product
If your pet is stressed due to a move indoors or separation anxiety, you may find investing in a pheromone dispenser helpful. These products emit a scent pleasing to cats to help calm them and perhaps help them sleep while you’re at work. Make sure to get a feline product instead of one meant for dogs.
It’s worth mentioning that they don’t necessarily work for all animals. However, you may find they take off the edge, so your cat is less stressed being alone.
9. Lick Mat
A food-motivated cat will enjoy a lick mat to keep them occupied while you’re gone. These textured mats provide a surface for putting a paste-like treat that your pet will have to spend some time working at it to get all of it. It’s a good solution since felines often fall asleep after eating. It’ll also give you a controlled way to dispense treats to prevent obesity.
10. A Feline Companion
As a wise person once said, cats are like potato chips. One is fun, but two is a riot. There probably isn’t a better way to entertain a feline pet than with a companion to play hide-and-seek, cuddle up with to get warm, or relieve loneliness. Of course, it’s not necessarily a solution for every situation. However, it’s sure to work as long as they’re introduced properly.
Cat Sleeping Habits
Probably one of the things people associate most with cats is their sleeping habits. Science has confirmed that felines may snooze up to 18 hours a day. That’s a good thing if you’re working away from home. They often rest in bursts, so they probably won’t have a lot of downtime when they could get into mischief.
Cats are crepuscular, which means they’re active at dawn and dusk. That works out well for them since that’s when their prey is also on the move. We understand that probably isn’t a lot of consolation when you’re trying to sleep at night and your cat is wide awake. The good news is that our pets often adapt their sleeping schedule to ours. After all, they prefer interactions with humans to other stimuli. The trick is using that to your advantage.
Play is vital for pets, whether canine, feline, or something else. It reinforces our bonds and helps to build trust. The things we’ve discussed are not a substitution for that one-on-one time with your cat. It can also provide health benefits that can increase your kitty’s lifespan. An excellent way to keep your pet entertained while you’re gone is to encourage it to sleep.
That means playtime before you leave for work. It’ll use up that stored energy and snooze away the hours while you’re gone. Interactive toys like wands and teasers are excellent ways to bond with your pet and provide the essential mental stimulation that mechanical toys can’t. The interaction and unpredictability of the action make them irresistible to cats.
Another way to encourage sleep is by feeding your cat before you leave. A full belly is a purr-fect way to ensure that your pet will nap instead of looking for trouble while you’re gone. We suggest the same thing at night before bedtime. You may find that your cat sleeps through the night and doesn’t start racing around before your alarm.
It’s essential to understand that entertaining your cat while you’re away isn’t being overindulgent. It’s vital for your pet’s mental health to have things to do and see when you can’t provide a source of amusement.
Fortunately, your kitty’s natural instincts offer plenty of fodder for appropriate choices to channel their energy. Try more than one to keep your cat from getting bored or depressed.
Featured Image Credit: Kari Shea, Unsplash