1. Let your cat graze
Plant cat grass so your cat can nibble indoors. Cat grass is not only a digestive aid, it’s a delicacy—most cats simply enjoy the taste. For the uninitiated, cat grass is a fiber-rich cereal grass, usually barley, oats, wheat or a combination thereof and can easily be grown indoors in pots. You can often find containers of cat grass or cat grass seeds at pet stores or garden centers. Go to catgrass.net to order quality, organic cat grass online.
2. Provide the appropriate number of litter boxes—one per cat
Cats greatly prefer not to share litter boxes. By providing a litter box for each cat (and cleaning them regularly!), you’ll reduce the chance of litter box mishaps. Cats eliminating inappropriately (read: outside of their litter box) is one of the top reasons cats are surrendered to shelters. Prevent the frustration of bathroom “accidents” by giving your cat his own place to go. We like the NVR Miss litter box!
3. Brush your cat every day
This accomplishes several things: bonding, the loosening of hair and thus the prevention of hairballs, and it allows you to check in with your cat and note any changes or sore areas so you can alert your vet if need be. If, at first, your cat isn’t super keen on brushing, have some treats on hand to sweeten the deal and make sure she associates grooming time with something good. Bonus: brushing will significantly reduce the amount of cat hair adhered to surfaces/blowing around your home! For all shedding cat breeds, long hair or short, we dig the Oster ShedMonster Less Stress De-Shedding tool.
4. Set aside time to play with your cat every day
Spending time actively engaging with your cat every day will cement your bond and keep your cat mentally and physically active. Many people erroneously think their cats don’t like to play but chances are they’re just doing it wrong. Try out different playing styles (both up high and slithering along the floor, as well as an assortment of toys. If you have more than one cat, separate them then play with them one at a time. Cats sometimes won’t play with another cat present.
Toy to try: The pictured four-in-one Cat Roll Toy ($7, cynjo.com) combines feathers, sisal, catnip, and treat-dispensing capabilities for all around fun!
5. Install a window perch
Allow your indoor cat a vantage point from which to bask in the sun’s rays streaming through the window and watch the birds and squirrels outside. This keeps them mentally engaged. Most window perches are affordable and install easily.
We like the Kitty Kot window perch, pictured ($40, kittykot.com). It mounts to windows in seconds—no tools required!—via super-strong suction cups, giving your cat a safe, easy-to-install bird’s eye view.
6. Microchip your cat
All cats, both indoor and out, should be microchipped. If your cat slips out the door and goes missing, having her microchipped greatly increases the odds of your reunion. A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats were reunited with their owners 38.5% of the time. In the case of microchipped cats not returned to their owners, it was most often due to old contact information (or no contact information registered at all!) in the microchip registry database. Don’t forget you must register your information after you’ve had the chip implanted and then keep your information updated. How and when should you update your info? If you’ve moved, changed phone numbers or email addresses, or you’re no longer the primary contact, you need to update your contact details. To do this, call your chip’s maker (Avid or Microchip I.D. Solutions are just two examples), give them the chip ID, and then tell them your new info. No longer sure what kind of chip it is? You can look it up at the American Animal Hospital Association website, petmicrochiplookup.org, or call your vet; if they inserted the chip they should have this information on file. It’s also a good idea to register your cat on foundanimals.org, a database that stores contact information for microchips of all kinds, regardless of the manufacturer.
7. Clean the litter box daily
Would you want to use a filthy bathroom? ‘nuff said. Want to make the task easier? Litter-Lifter (litter-lifter.com) lifts out waste without sifting, meaning less dust and fewer passes.