More people of all ages are living in apartments every year. Smaller spaces can be a big change for both you and your kitty. Territory is important to all cats but as long as your cats’ basic needs are met, they should adapt right along with you.
Cats underfoot can be a danger to seniors (and others!) as well as the kitties, so we recommend finding a quiet corner by a window that they can call their own: their Playstation. You can set it up with a favorite rug, scratcher, a sealed treat container and basket of toys.
With all their favorite things in one place, they will be able to scent appropriately, own the space and feel safe.
Most cats’ favorite toys are ones that you’re on the other end of because it’s movement that triggers their instincts to hunt. The more you can help them mimic the natural flow of hunting, the more satisfied they will be.
While most cats love long wand toys like Da Bird, you may have to downsize them too. Fortunately the same company, Go Cat, makes a shorter wand toy called Cat Catcher that will keep her just as active. It has a very mouse-like end on a swivel. This helps the toy move erratically, just like real prey would.
A note of caution: please put away any wand or string toys after playing so they don’t accidentally get tangled in them when you’re not there. This will also keep the toys fresh and novel for them too.
The red dot can be a great way to exercise a cat in a small space. Try to imitate the movement of an insect, with irregular paths that lead away from your kitty, hiding behind things and up walls.
The most important thing to remember about laser toys is to finish the hunting sequence with a small protein treat, just like your kitty would do in the wild. Stopping suddenly without offering food can be frustrating.
A good play session ends with eating, which often leads to grooming then a good nap.
Motion toys that can be activated by your cats when you’re not there can also be great entertainment. One good design has a moving toy hidden under a sturdy nylon cover like the SmartyKat Hot Pursuit. This is a fancy version of playing with a stick under a rug, which almost all cats enjoy.
Other auto toys include mice that move erratically and fish that swim, especially good for summer. Look for toys that look—and feel—like the prey they are imitating.
You can combine toys with puzzle feeders like this Catit Senses Digger or the Trixie Tunnel Feeder for a great hunting-eating combo. Place a few dry treats in the feeder, then layer with small toys like fake mice and soft balls.
This will encourage your kitties to dig through the toys to get to the food, combining two favorite activities and making them work for it like they would in the wild.
Remember, if you can’t go out to increase a cat’s territory, go up. Cat trees of different heights are excellent for this. If you can, install catification shelves (with rails, especially if your kitty is a senior too) to enrich her movement around the room. Placing shelves within jumping distance of cat trees can create a whole new kitty adventure trail.
You can also use the trees and catification in play. Make the toy travel up and down the different heights, hiding it behind posts and inside cubbies.
Cats are adaptable creatures who just want to be with the people they love. We hope these ideas help your kitties (and you!) adjust happily to your new space!
Sara Ferguson is the Director of Happy Cats Haven, where cats always get another chance at their best lives in Manitou Springs, Colorado.