• Dr. Rachel Geller

Keeping your Cat Happy and Stimulated in an Apartment

Although they don’t always require as much space as dogs, cats thrive in environments that engage their curiosity and stimulate their mind. There are many ways to easily achieve this in an apartment setting using some basic toys and DIY solutions!


Stimulation is important to a cat and you should work on creating hunting opportunities within your apartment where the cat can stalk, pounce and capture. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders and daily challenges will exercise your cat’s muscles, physically and emotionally - leaving them happy, satisfied, and tired out at the end of the day!



Interactive Activity Toys

Let’s start with interactive activity toys. These are toys where a cat has to accomplish a task or figure something out. There are many available at pet supply stores, but even a ball inside a tissue box can be a fun challenge. My favorites are Doc & Phoebe’s Puzzle Feeder & Hunting Feeder, and KONG Cat Wobbler Treat Dispenser.


Puzzle feeders are food dispensing toys that need to be manipulated in different ways to dole out the food. Puzzle feeders encourage mental and physical stimulation because they increase physical activity needed to get the food, and they act as fun brain-teasers for your cat. We love watching cats figure out how to work these, and they love the challenge! Want to create a DIY version? Take a few bowls and put a small portion of food in each bowl, place the bowls about your apartment so that your cat has to go on a fun expedition to find his food.


Vertical Space

The next thing is vertical space. Cats can jump up to five times their height and vertical space comes naturally to a cat. Many small apartments may not be conducive to cat trees, but take a gander at your furniture, walls and shelving, and chances are there is some vertical space that is going unused. With some minor modifications, you can double or triple the size of your cat’s territory. A little increase in vertical space will go a long way in making the indoor environment more appealing and exciting. TRIXIE makes a great line of easy-to-mount wall shelves and loungers for cats, perfect for an apartment setting!

Tunnels & Quiet Spaces

To fully maximize your apartment’s appeal, you also have to consider that your cat will want some places where he can pretend to become invisible or navigate through a room "incognito." Cat tunnels and cubes are good options for this. We’re big fans of cat tunnels because they come in so many sizes and can easily be folded up and stored when you have company over. Again, to save money, a cardboard box will do the trick! Look at the pathways your cat tends to take to get from one place to another, and that is the perfect location for the box.


Scratching Posts

Tired of your car scratching your furniture? Scratching posts are your friend! Make sure your scratching posts are at least three feet tall and sisal or rope-covered to better simulate trees. This is also important for the cat to get a good stretch as he conditions his claws. The full stretch is great for the back muscles and provides an emotional release for your cat.


Capture Play Sessions

Last, be sure to play with your cat with a fishing pole type of toy twice a day, for about fifteen minutes each session. Aside from being a great opportunity to bond with your cat, this type of play simulates hunting. For your cat, the most important part of the game is the capture! They’ll feel empowered with the physical, tangible success that comes from watching, stalking, pouncing and ultimately catching.

Make sure you allow for plenty of captures between the chasing and pouncing, and always finish the game with a successful capture and little treat to simulate feasting after the hunt.

The above tips don’t require much space, time, or money, but they’ll go a long way in helping keep your cat active and stimulated in any size apartment! Looking for more fun ways to engage your cat? Follow @BarkBuildings on Instagram for more ideas on cat-friendly living in your multifamily community.

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