How to make your indoor cat happy

by | Cat Care |


By Ursula Leonowicz ©2020 Postmedia Network Inc.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that Glam, my tuxedo cat, was less frisky than usual.

He’s a pretty active cat and never says no to play time, so when he wasn’t up for a game with his favourite toy crocodile, I knew something was wrong.

He had a clean litter box as well as a clean bowl of water and food, and I was lavishing him with attention, so what could possibly be wrong?

“Our cat’s behaviour says a lot about their environmental needs. There are two types of cat personalities — passive and active — and your cat’s personality can determine the types of environments they will thrive within,” explains Royal Canin veterinary expert Dr. Allan Corber.

“No matter what kind of personality they have, there are six basic environmental needs cats have that are essential to their comfort and happiness,” says Royal Canin Veterinarian Dr. Allan Corber.

“No matter what kind of personality they have, there are six basic environmental needs cats have that are essential to their comfort and happiness.”

With over 25 years of veterinary experience, specializing in general canine and feline practice, Royal Canin veterinary expert, Dr. Allan Corber, joined the scientific communications team at Royal Canin in 2018. He focuses on shelters, breeders, and getting kittens and puppies off to a healthy start. Dr. Allan is also an expert on how nutrition plays a critical role within each of these areas.

A safe place

“Whether your cat is active or passive, they need somewhere to go that makes them feel safe,” Dr. Allan says. “Passive cats tend to hide and establish boundaries and will enjoy cat condos, cat hammocks, and play time that mimics hunting in a toned down and quiet type of scenario.”

As for active cats, they enjoy climbing, exploring and playtime that mimics predatory hunting (like Glam’s toy crocodile, on a lure).

Multiple and separate resources

I was in the living room one day when Glam hopped up on the coffee table and started drinking from my water. Later that night, when I was in bed, he jumped on my bedside table and drank from my water again.

It made me realize that, like his owner, Glam likes having easy access to water wherever he is in the house. So now, he has three drinking bowls throughout the house.

While no two cats are the same, and Glam is, admittedly, a bit of a diva, every cat should have separate areas for food and water, their own litter box, sleeping area, and a place they can scratch and play.

Positive interactions

“Cats love their humans but need independence and space,” says Dr. Allan. “This is especially important now, as many of us are spending more time at home, but it should always be considered.”

And that’s when it clicked. I had been paying an awful lot of attention to Glam lately; could I be smothering him? Our last cuddle session lasted close to an hour.

According to Dr. Allan, cats enjoy petting and grooming sessions just as much as we do, but most prefer shorter, more frequent interactions. “It’s important to respect your cat’s desire for opportunities to isolate, so they can withdraw as they like,” he says.

Respecting play and predatory behaviours

As all cat owners quickly learn, hunting is innate for cats and they should have the opportunity to mimic hunting during play at home; it’s in their DNA.

“Interactive feeders are a wonderful way to help stimulate your cat’s predatory behaviour and having multiple areas where food is set aside makes feeding even more interactive,” says Dr. Allan. “Puzzle feeders are great tools for pet owners that live alone since it allows your cat to be mentally stimulated while you’re not there.”

Ball feeders, where your cat needs to play with the ball to get to the food, are another way to stimulate their predatory instinct and promote exercise. Lasers are a fun game too, but you need two to tango, and it’s important to treat your feline friend upon completing a laser pointer play session since that is the opportunity for the “capture” part of the game.

Sense of Smell

Smell is important to cats, which isn’t surprising, since their sense of smell is 12 times stronger than humans. What that means is that their litter boxes, food bowls and water bowls need to be cleaned regularly, with soap and water.

Independent nutritional needs

According to Dr. Vanessa Tonn, a Royal Canin veterinarian who joined the team in 2019 and focuses on animal nutrition, all cats have unique nutritional needs so it’s important to check with your vet to determine what’s optimal for them.

“Maintain a consistent feeding schedule. Cats like to graze so if you’re away for the majority of the day, consider using an automatic feeder to maintain a consistent schedule,” she says. “Wet food, depending on the formula, may provide complementary benefits for urinary health. So this can be part of the diet as well.”

As for Glam, now that he has increased access to water and slightly less access to me, he’s a lot happier.

His toy crocodile is back in action too.

For more insight on your cat’s behaviour and what it means, check out Dr. Allan on YouTube. For other information, visit

This content was produced by Content Works, Postmedia’s custom content studio.


Thank you so much for all you do

Thank you so much for all you do every day to rescue animals in need. I can’t imagine the terrible situations that you see every day.  It is great that you have the heart to help. Keep up the good work.