Pounce on these simple ideas for keeping your cat busy, entertained, and happy inside the home.

As a human who belongs to a cat, it’s your job to make sure that the home you share is a happy, healthy space—and that goes beyond providing food and health care. Cats need stimulation to keep their minds healthy and curb bad behaviors. While puzzle-based interactive toys are a great way to keep your kitty engaged, you don’t need fancy gear to enrich your cat’s life. Check out this list of 10 easy ways you can entertain your family feline. She’ll definitely thank you for your efforts!

  1. When you make the bed, fluff up the sheets and blankets so they settle down gently on top of your cat. You’ll end up enjoying this chore as much as kitty will.
  2. Grow a pot of nontoxic kitchen herbs—basil, dill, or rosemary—for your cat to munch. (if he’s amenable to sharing, you can also use them for cooking!)
  3. Rearrange furniture so your cat can jump progressively higher. Imagine the athleticism it takes to go from the floor to the back of an armchair to a bookcase shelf to the very top of the breakfront.
  4. Lay an opened magazine or newspaper on the floor and make a cat toy dart under it, then back out again, to simulate the way small prey animals dart in and out of the grass. Your cat will be mesmerized.
  5. Shopping online? Leave the delivery box out for a few days before you recycle it—since kitties are drawn to confined places where they can hide or sleep. Leave the top open, or close it up and cut a big hole in the side of the box. (Keep your camera handy, because photos of cats in boxes are what Facebook was made for.)
  6. Bring in something from outside, such as a branch, a rock, or fresh leaves (nontoxic plants, please!). Cats read the outside world when they sniff something new and earthy.
  7. Buy or build both vertical and horizontal scratchers for your feline (unless you know your kitty prefers one over the other). Make sure the vertical ones stand at least 3 feet tall and the horizontal ones are at least 1 foot wide.
  8. Fold up a towel, hide some treats among the folds, and place it inside a box or big paper bag for your cat to explore.
  9. Set up an outdoor bird feeder just outside a picture window to create a cat TV, guaranteed to get good ratings!
  10. Fill a large mixing bowl with water and add a rubber duck or maybe a small wind-up toy. Place the bowl on a towel or tray on the floor and enjoy watching your cat splash. Make this an interactive activity by nudging the toy around to keep your cat engaged.

A version of this article first appeared in Happy Paws Spring/Summer 2019.