Cats who live in apartments face one very serious threat: boredom. Cat behavior problems—aggression, waking owners up in the middle of the night, obsession with food, and more—can often be traced back to a simple lack of stimulation. Though cats are often considered to be low maintenance pets, most do need some form of entertainment and activity each day.
Regularly scheduled playtime is always a good idea, but another easy way to fight feline angst is to make your apartment more fun, so your cat can entertain himself during the hours of the day you're too busy to engage. You don't need to buy any fancy equipment: a few simple adjustments to your home can do the trick and stave off the boredom that causes some cats to act like jerks. Here are a few ideas for how to make your apartment a veritable kitty playground.
Help your cat get high (not just on catnip)
Cats love sitting at an elevated vantage point, surveying their kingdom Lion King-style. It's one of their deeply embedded survival instincts. That's the idea behind cat trees. But if you don't want to spend money on fancy cat furniture, or if giant carpeted tower clashes with your home's aesthetic, there's a much more attractive and affordable solution: shelves. Simple shelves placed strategically along the wall can give your cat several different places to lounge, and let them safely hop up to ceiling height.
If your cat likes spending time in the kitchen with you (with all the exciting sounds and smells that happen there, most cats do) keep the top of your refrigerator cleared off, too. It gives a cat a place to hang out and inspect all the exciting kitchen happenings from on high, without getting any fur in your dinner.
Deck out window sills
The window is like television for cats, with hours of exciting, commercial-free programming of people, birds, and sounds to stimulate their hunting instincts all day long. That means it's crucial your window sill is kitty-friendly. If the ledge is too narrow for a cat to lounge comfortable, connect a small shelf to add width, like this hanging cat perch from the blog Hymns and Verses. In winter, fold up a cozy blanket and lay it on the sill so your cat can watch his Netflix without any chill.
Get the right plants
Help your cat embrace his jungle instincts with some nice leafy plants he can hide behind or even gnaw on. But be careful: Not all plants will make your cat's life better. Some plants are poisonous and can cause serious illness or indigestion in cats, so be sure to look up which plants are petsafe. The ASPCA has a comprehensive list but, of course, catnip is usually a safe bet. Another green option is cat bed made entirely of grass, which you can DIY in two easy steps, as demonstrated on GrowsOnYou.
Help them get their scratch on
Scratching serves more than one purpose for cats. In addition to keeping their nails healthy, scratching lets cats mark their territory. Their nail beds help them leave a chemical scent wherever they scratch, which is why many cats will scratch up furniture even if they have a scratching post. To curb this behavior, make sure your cat has somewhere to scratch in every room. It doesn't have to be a post: you can buy scratchers that hang on door knobs or DIY simple wall scratchers like this easy framed piece from IKEA Hackers that cats will go nuts for.
Grab some toys
A feather on a string might be your cat's favorite toy, but be sure to stock your home with a few extra toys your can can entertain himself with, like fluffy mouse full of catnip or an interactive game that rewards him with treats, like this feeder from Petco.
Give him his space
In a small apartment or studio, it can be difficult for a cat to get privacy, but even the most gregarious cat needs some alone time every now and then (which, let's be honest, is very relatable). An enclosed cat bed, like the Mod Dream Pod, provides a comfortable and cozy spot for your cat to hang out while still providing a little shelter from people, too.
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Re-edited from a post that originally appeared on 11.4.16. — AH