For cats that venture outside, summer is the most exciting time of the year. Warm weather means there are plenty of plants to sniff and animals to hunt. Outdoor environments help cats stay in shape and sharpen their minds. With so much to explore, outdoor cats can easily stay entertained all on their own. But when the snow begins to fall, cats spend a lot more time cooped up in their homes.
It might be too cold for outdoor fun, but that doesn’t mean your cat has to be bored all winter long! Indoor activities can keep your cat active and stimulated until the warm weather returns once again.
Exercise is crucial for cats in winter
Many pet parents have cats that spend some or all of their time outside. Roaming the great outdoors is an excellent way to keep your cat active and mentally stimulated. They get to hunt, discover new scents and expand their territory. Going outside lets your cat tap into their natural hunting instincts and live a happier, more fulfilling life.
Unfortunately, when the temperatures drop, your outdoor cat will have to spend a lot more time inside the home. Cats shouldn’t stay out in the cold for extended periods of time, especially if you live in a region that experiences dangerously low temperatures during winter. Unfortunately, this means your outdoor cat will miss out on their usual sources of exercise and mental stimulation. When they come inside for the winter, dedicate extra time to playing with your cat so their body and mind stay healthy throughout the cold months.
Fully indoor cats could use some extra attention, too. Although they’re used to staying inside all the time, winter presents a good opportunity for pet parents to spend more time with their feline friends. Due to the ice, wind and snow, you’re probably going to stay inside more often than you would during the warmer months. If your cat doesn’t get as much exercise as they should, now’s the time to try out some new activities and strengthen the bond you two share.
Indoor activities to stimulate your cat
Cats struggle to get enough mental stimulation during winter. All the animals are hibernating, and frigid temperatures prevent cats from roaming their outdoor territories. Luckily, there are ways to mimic your cat’s outdoor environment within the warmth and safety of your home. Indoor activities can offer just as much exercise and stimulation as spending time outside.
Get your cat moving this winter with these fun and engaging indoor activities.
- Treat hunt: During the warmer months, outdoor cats prowl through bushes in the hopes of snatching a squirrel or mouse. You can recreate a similar experience by hiding treats around the home. Your cat will use their sense of smell and natural hunting instincts to track down the hidden treats. Start by placing treats where your cat can easily find them, such as in their food bowl or around the floor. As they get more experienced, hide the treats under blankets, on top of shelves and in secluded corners.
- Laser pointers: The laser pointer is an age-old trick that’ll get your cat up and moving. Laser pointers mimic the act of chasing down prey and catching it. Point the laser this way and that, and your cat is sure to zoom through your home. Use the laser pointer to send your cat sprinting down the hall, jumping to high places and crawling into little hideaways. Spending just five minutes with a laser pointer can help your cat get in a good workout!
- Prey-like toys: Entice your cat to play by purchasing toys that resemble prey, such as birds, squirrels, mice and other wild animals. Stuffed animal toys have fake fur and tails to engage your cat’s hunting instincts. These toys are often available in bright colors designed to grab your cat’s attention. If you give your cat a feathered toy, supervise them the whole time to make sure they don’t tear off or ingest the feathers.
- Fishing poles: Cats can’t resist the lure of a fishing pole toy! Dangling a brightly-colored toy above your cat’s head is similar to snatching a bird out of the sky. Wave the toy around to encourage your cat to run, lunge and jump. They’ll get the excitement of hunting down prey while staying safe and warm in your home.
For both cats and humans, winter tempts us to take it slow and curl up beneath a pile of blankets. Indoor activities can keep your cat active and stimulated while their preferred prey hibernates for the season. Even if you have a fully indoor cat, sticking to a regular exercise routine helps your cat stay physically and mentally healthy—not just during winter, but all year long.