How To Avoid Kitty Cabin Fever
Lately, I’ve seen more aggression issues crop up this winter while doing cat consults. I call it kitty cabin fever. When cats are cooped up during the cold weather months without even the window open, boredom can set in. In households with one cat, it can manifest as destructive behavior. Hello shredded toilet paper. Knocked over knick knacks. In multiple cat homes, rough play can turn into bullying or play aggression. Here’s how to avoid kitty cabin fever.
If you have indoor/outdoor cats, I encourage short, supervised walks with a leash and harness. If you allow your cat outdoors unsupervised, restrict the time on very cold days to prevent frostbite.
Odin (pictured below on a foggy winter day) is extremely athletic and goes bananas without daily outdoor exercise. We enjoy improvised agility training on various logs on our property. His favorite command to perform is “jump”. Nothing makes him happier. For indoor cats, bring some of the outdoors in. A piece of bark or fresh twigs can be better than catnip for a scent-starved cat.
On warmer days, open up the windows and allow some fresh air in. Make sure you have plenty places for cats perch near windows where they can a view and enjoy window whiffies. A view of a bird birder would be bonus. Even a mobile or whirligig will intrigue. We had a recent thaw, melting the snow revealing moist, naturally scented goodness. Cats with their highly developed sense of smell experience much of their world by scent.
Odin expertly navigated the balance beam. Needless to say, he rarely needs to use a scratching post but indoor cat do. If you can, provide a small and a tall one allow choice of horizontal or vertical scratching.
Indoors cats need stimulation and exercise. Yes, they can play with toys alone but nothing beats inter-active play with their guardian ideally twice a day for at least 10-15 minutes. If during a play session, one cat begins to bully the other, re-direct them by throwing a toy or startling them with sound like shaking a tin can with coins. When the bully is behaving, they can receive a reward or treat.
If you’re lazy you can sit on the couch watching TV and play with a laser-light or other games like crumple newspaper into balls and toss them. Play with an iPad but resist texting and speaking on the phone. We fool no adult, child or pet when we’re distracted by digital devices. Mix it up with different kinds of toys. Long fishing pole toys one day, ping-pong balls in an empty bathtub the next. Be creative! Happy cat = Happy life.
- Grooming can be a stimulating and fun way to bond. Find a comb or brush your cat enjoys. At our house every evening just before I brush my teeth, I brush all the cats. Cats love the ritual of same place, same time. Two minutes of brushing will do.
- Hide toys and treats to find in boxes and paper bags.
- Keep some toys out and hide the others for a scavenger hunt.
- Keep toys with dangerous ribbons or feathers locked up after playtime.
- There are novel toy ideas in the kitchen made of wood, metal or plastic.
- Dangle twine from a spatula, stack different sized of plastic bowl or bins
- Fill a large salad bowl with water and place a rubber ducky inside.
- Think out of the box. Have fun!
This is Odin’s “Aw, mom, do I have to go inside now” face. I’ve just told him to jump down. A perfect landing and it’s time to go in.
These pictures are really lovely! I go on leashed walks with my cat – how do you go unleashed?? Does Odin just stay close? How was that accomplished??
Layla Morgan Wilde
Thanks, Zara. We have a large acreage with a variety of trees/logs for doing kitty “parkour”. Odin is trained to come as called.
Cherry City Kitties
Harry is the “garden” kitty. He sticks close because he knows I let the catnip grow free there! Dexter learned to use a harness and leash last fall, and Tipp, being a formerly feral kitty, wants NOTHING to do with outside, even in his new cool pink Kritter Kondo! But we play and play inside, if it’s got feather… it’s killed for sure.
Texas, a cat in New York
Plenty of ways to have fun!
I loved this next to last pic of Odin: this is also my aw face when my human has to go out to work (well, when I am not
Ryker's Boyz 'n' Allie
We agree – we can get a bit crazypants (okay well, except for Maxwell, he’s ALWAYS mellow). Allie even growled at Faraday this morning because he was in HER sunny spot. With our construction right now, there’s less play, and we’re all a bit more cranky. (We needs more Neko Time!)
Thanks for participating in Blog the Change Days and for sharing your tips on Kitty Cabin Fever. My indoor kitties sure miss having the windows open! Luckily we had a warm spell last week, and I was able to open them a bit during the day. I also let them in the garage to run off some of their excess energy – lots of different places to explore!
Oh how right you are! Our home is suffering from this malady right now, so thank you very much for the wonderful tips! This human here could use a bit of the outdoors, herself.
Thank you for blogging the change for animals!
Your suggestions are great. I love seeing Odin in his “gym”!
Those were so great ideas! We tried walking Oui Oui a couple times, but we looked silly dragging a cat at the end of a leash. She wouldn’t even stand up! So she gets lots of indoor play time, which she loves.
Me is purrfectly happy playing by myself. But Kozmo is a totally different matter! It has been too cold for him to goes outside and he’s been going nutso! Its a good thing that him and Cinnamon likes to wrestle ‘cuz playing with Mommy is not good enough!
Wrestling is great exercise. Odin and Domino have WWW inspired matches.
Great post, Layla! What great suggestions of how to engage our kitties.
We LOVE those pictures of Odin having fun outside. 🙂
Happy cat. Happy life. So well put, Layla. Owned by two indoor cats myself, I love your suggestions. Keeping our critters in touch with the outside world keeps them grounded in who they are and how they are designed to be. We could all use a little of that in this high tech world.
Thanks so much for Blogging the Change!
He is soo cute.
Skeeter and Izzy
We love the ideas wven tho we go outside frequently. We still have some days when we want to stay in as much as possible,like cold windy days. Glad you got to go out and play Odin! Luvs Skeeter and Izzy >^..^<
Eric and Flynn
We are lucky that we can go out into our large securely fenced garden whenever we like. We know we would get irritable with each other if we had to stay indoors. We like to go for walks around the fields with mum, but it is so wet and muddy that we haven’t been there for about 2 months. We will be glad when we get some better weather. That looks like a lovely place for Odin to explore.
We’re lucky like you to have safe outdoors spaces to explore. Hope the soggy season is over soon!
pretty pictures. pretty kitteh.
Odin you have such a magical place to enjoy!
The Musings Of A Crazy Cat Lady
This is excellent advice. I find if I don’t play with the girls at least once a day, they go nutso. Abbi still insists every morning that I open a window even though it’s been quite cold here for some time.
Katie and Coccolino the mini pig
What a great post. Excellent ideas to engage the cats. Ours love the laser lights.
Katie and Coccolino the mini pig
Does that include Cocco?
da tabbies o trout towne
dood !!! theez bee sum awesum ideas N thanx for sharin; bringin de outdoors IN is sum thin we never thinked ta yell at R mom….we R gonna haz her find sum stuff ta bring in for us !!! THANX !!
I love the suggestion about hiding some of their toys to make it a scavenger hunt. Excellent suggestion! I’m going to try that with my two cats.
We sure have cabin fever, even though we don’t go out we sure miss open windows and doors!
Please stop by and wish Dante a Happy 11th Birthday.
Thanks, Layla, excellent suggestions! I especially like the idea of bringing a log or two into the house for scratch & sniff fun
I totally agree with all your points! I even do some of them lol. Austin loves his routines and as an outdoor/indoor cat (more indoor this time of year) he gets the best of both worlds ….hopefully not the worst! Though I think he would soon tell me!
These are great suggestions… coming from a human! 😉