5 Simple Ways to Make Your Cat Happier

Feeling guilty because you havenít done much for your cat in several months†ó†or longer?†There’s a common misconception that cats are self-reliant, that they donít need anything special to be content. Iím here to tell you that couldnít be further from the truth. If you take a little time to enrich your catís environment, I guarantee youíll have†a happier cat†ó†and a less guilty conscience.

There are some very simple changes you can make to your home and your daily routine that will help give kitty the stimulation she needs to keep her entertained while youíre away and promote bonding while youíre together. And you donít have to spend a fortune to do it.

1. Catify

One of the keys to making your cat happy is catification, the term that cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy and I use for environmental enrichment for cats (and the title of our new book). Catification can be as easy as moving furniture around or as elaborate as building climbing structures or outdoor enclosures for your cat.

The idea behind catification is to accommodate a catís natural instincts to climb, perch, scratch and really own her territory. The process starts by observing your cat and her preferences (does your cat prefer to be up high or down low? Does she like to scratch horizontally or vertically?) and then catering to those preferences as you catify.

One of the more common enhancements Jackson and I recommend is creating a cat superhighway. This provides a way for a cat to navigate around a room without touching the floor. You can start by looking at the existing furniture in the room and rearranging it to make it easier for your cat to jump from one surface to the next. You may need to add some cat shelves or a cat tree to connect your superhighway, and make sure to attach nonslip mats or carpet pieces to the surfaces to prevent slipping.

Another great catification tool is cat TV. Find a nice window and place a bird feeder in view of it, then set up a comfy spot where kitty can sit and watch the action.

2. Bring the Outdoors In

Cats love to munch grass in the wild, so get some fresh cat grass or a catnip plant for your pet cat. These cat-safe plants are available from pet supply stores and most plant nurseries, or you can grow your own from seed for just a few dollars. Try to always have a fresh plant ready when you need to replace the old one.

3. Spice Up Playtime

Schedule some interactive playtime with kitty every day. For these workout sessions, I recommend using a wand toy with a feather or other eye-catching attachment on the end of a string. Make your cat jump and chase the toy just like she would do with her prey in the wild. Use your new cat superhighway as part of the racetrack.

So kitty will have something to stalk while youíre away, make sure to have some smaller toys that she can toss around and carry in her mouth. (Just donít leave out any toys with string, ribbon, yarn or rubber bands while youíre not at home.) Many cats enjoy toys with catnip, plus there are several other herbs you could try. Cat toys with valerian root, silver vine and honeysuckle are becoming more and more popular and could make your cat very happy. Remember to check†with your veterinarian before giving your cat any herbs.

4. Create a Challenge

While youíre away, kitty will play, so why not give her a little challenge? Puzzle toys and treat dispensers are great ways to keep your cat entertained and active. These toys are designed to dispense treats or food while your cat bats them around, encouraging her to exercise and catering to her natural instinct to hunt prey.

If youíre trying to cut kittyís calories, rather than adding treats, you can divide the normal†food allotment for the day into smaller meals dispensed by the food puzzle. Another alternative is to use a†larger puzzle box that can be filled with small toys (big enough not to present a choking hazard) instead of food.

I recommend filling puzzles with treats or toys before you leave in the morning and before you go to bed at night. Place them around the house so your cat will come across them as she goes about her daily or nightly activities.

5. Change It Up

You donít want things to get boring for your cat, so think about changing the environment a little on a regular basis. Try moving the cat tree to a different corner or to the center of the room†ó†your cat may see it as new again. I also like to rotate the cat toys; I put some away for a while and then switch the toys for variety. When the old toys come out again, itís like Christmas!

What have you done to enrich your catís environment?

By Kate Benjamin

More on Vetstreet:


Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ

Good article with useful tips.Thanks for sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W1 years ago

Very informative Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W1 years ago

Great information and advice Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W1 years ago

Very interesting article Thank you for caring and sharing

Kamia T.
Kamia T3 years ago

I'm not a cat person, but will definitely keep these in mind for my cat friends.

Glennis Whitney
Glennis W4 years ago

Saff has heaps of toys, he entertains me and I entertain him, continuous love each way all the time.

Peggy A.
Peggy A4 years ago


Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

The happiness is mutual and shared

DaleLovesOttawa O.

The cat that owns me often assigns me to new purrojects to keep her amused. She certainly loves her cat tree and numerous toys along with games that we both play with each other.

She is presently pleased that it is Spring and one can begin growing copious amounts of fresh kitty grass and catnip outside. Wonderpurrfully organic, as well.

Valentina R.
Valentina R4 years ago

Done. :-)