14 Mar 2007 17:38 UTCWed 14 Mar 2007 - 5:38 pm UTC
Help! I need ideas for amusing a cat. This feline is driving me mad. I live alone with a large black cat for company. He's an indoor cat, has all his claws, and is generally a great pet, mellow as cats go, quite affectionate, and mostly well-behaved. But lately I've been spending a lot more time working at my desk and he's starting to become a real nuisance, letting me know he does not appreciate my long work hours, always wanting up on my lap or bothering me to play with him.
I know he needs stimulation, he's a very smart kittie, and I do try to spend some time playing with him every day, with the interactive bird, fetch the mousie and hide-and-seek with the hairball treats, but I don't want him on my lap 24/7 (hey, he weighs 15 lbs. and gets really heavy vafter awhile) nor do I have time to be constantly playing with him.
What I would like are some suggestions for simple things I can do to keep this cat amused and occupied without my constant participation, short of getting another cat to keep him company which is out of the question. I've tried putting him outside on a line but he doesn't like that. Letting him run free is also out of the question as this semi-rural area has packs of roaming dogs that have killed cats in the past and I don't want him to be next. I'm ok with spending a bit of money if necessary but nothing too expensive, like multi-hundreds of dollars for a climbing tree or such.
14 Mar 2007 18:56 UTCWed 14 Mar 2007 - 6:56 pm UTC
As the grateful underling of a passel o' pussycats, I have often had the experience of having to fend off cats who are in need of entertainment when I have other things to do. Some of the fuzzy little guys don't seem to be able to find ways to keep their minds alive, and the only thought on their mind is "I'll go pester Mama."
A few months ago, we took in two abandoned kittens and bottle-fed them. The kitties are adolescent now, and they want to be with us constantly. This isn't do-able, since both my husband and I are involved in at-home business endeavors. Here are some things that have worked as feline distractions in my household.
Get an Aquarium or Rodentarium
Cats are endlessly obsessed with the motions of potential prey, even if that prey cannot be obtained. We used to have, in addition to our feline gang, a large collection of domesticated rodents (rats, mice, and gerbils). An appropriately equipped aquarium with a screen-mesh lid makes a nice rodent home, and cats can view the little critters to their heart's content.
You might think this would make the rodents very neurotic, but, in our experience, that was not the case. Apparently, on their multigenerational way to the pet shop, small rodents have had the fear of predators bred out of them. We had one rat who was actually attracted to the cats, and would poke her little paws through the mesh trying to play with them! The cats, of course, tried to bite off her toes. Fortunately, they failed, and we got a lid with finer mesh.
The best rodent entertainment, in my view, is mice. They are typically friskier and faster-moving than other rodents, and a cage with even a single mouse will be watched with delight by a cat for hours on end. We used to call the mouse cage MTV - Mouse Television. And there are no commercials!
I have heard that an aquarium works well as a cat entertainment device, too, but I have no personal experience with this. I don't recommend keeping caged birds for this purpose, since birds are unnerved and alarmed by cats, and it wouldn't be fair to the birds to expose them to that kind of stress.
Video Entertainment for Cats!
This may sound like a joke, but there really are videos that are designed for entertaining housebound cats. One of our veterinarians uses such a video, "KittyShow: The Birds," in her boarding kennel, and we've had great success with a couple of cat-oriented videos, "Mewvie: Backyard Buffet" and "Video Catnip." These are not the only such videos on the market, but I can give a personal testimonial to their entertainment value. The kitties just love 'em. Over and over and over. You'd think that the sight of the same birds doing the same things would lose appeal after a dozen replays, but apparently cats are like little kids: repetition just deepens the fascination.
KittyShow: The Birds
Mewvie: Backyard Buffet
Another video suggestion: if you are able to get the Animal Planet channel, just leave a TV tuned to it (with the volume turned down, if desired). One of our cats, Miss PittyPat, will sit all day watching animal programs. PittyPat says that she wants a polar bear for Christmas. I haven't had the heart to break the news that real polar bears are a lot bigger than the hamster-sized images she has seen on the telly.
The Animal Sounds Babble Ball is an eerie little toy that makes various animal noises when approached. It's not loud enough to be annoying to humans, but it intrigues cats immensely (dogs, too):
"The Babble Balls are interactive toys that talk or make exciting animal sounds when touched. The improved technology is so sensitive it can be triggered by a pet breathing on it, or just by the vibration of a pet walking past it. When play is finished, the Babble Ball turns off automatically and waits to be touched again. Pets think it's actually alive!...
Animal Sounds Babble Balls®
More than 20 different realistic animal sounds; lion, frogs, coyote howl, lots of birds, dog barking, pigs, rooster, lamb, elephant, cow, goat, a cat, and more."
Animal Sounds Babble Ball
Here are two other noise-enhanced balls that both cats and dogs can enjoy:
Petco: Multipet Wiggly Giggly Balls
Amazon: Boingo Ball
Some good articles about boredom in cats:
PetSmart: Relieving Boredom for Dogs & Cats
PetSmart: How to Prevent Feline Boredom
VeterinaryPartner: Ease the Boredom for Indoor Cats
Petfinder: Beating Boredom
Drs Foster and Smith: Cat Boredom Busters
I hope this helps you to find some ways to keep kitty happily occupied while you are busy. A contented, well-entertained cat means less shredded furniture, fewer litterpan boycotts, and a reduction in the volume level of "howling in the hallway" concerts. ;-)