25 Simple Life Hacks for a Happier Cat


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Sep 23, 2023

25 Simple Life Hacks for a Happier Cat

Posted June 5, 2023

Posted June 5, 2023 | Reviewed by Jessica Schrader

Did you know there are lots of simple tweaks you can make to help your cat have a happier life? From enrichment to giving your cat a choice, there's a lot you can do for your feline friend.

These hacks are cat-centered, meaning they come from an understanding of what cats really like and what is good for their welfare. Plus, they’re easy for you to do too.

1. Keep your cat's toys in a box and only get a few out at a time. Once a week, put the toys away and get different ones out. Keeping the toys new keeps your cat interested in them.

2. Instead of going to pet your cat, call them over and wait for them to come to you. OK, they might not come every time, but they’ll be getting affection on their own terms, and that's how they prefer it.

3. When your cat is nearby, shake the treat packet and then give your cat a treat. Do this a few times and you’ll have taught them to come when they hear the packet.

4. Prefer them to come for a verbal cue? Pick a word or phrase—"Here kitty!"—that you will only use for this. Say that word every single time before you get the treat packet and shake it. Soon your cat will start to come when you say it.

5. Get your cat a taller scratching post so they have room to reach up and stretch out when scratching. Most people get posts that are too short, but cats prefer a taller post.

6. Give your cat a treat once they’ve used the scratching post. Over time, this makes them more likely to use the post instead of your furniture.

7. Give your cat a small supper before bed. (Give them a smaller meal beforehand so they are getting the same number of calories in the day.) The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends that we feed cats multiple small meals a day. Giving supper is one way to add a small meal—and they’re less likely to wake you early demanding breakfast.

8. Make time in the evening to play with your cat with a wand toy. Ideally, do this just before their supper. Play uses the cat's predatory sequence and also helps to tire them out.

9. Make cat toys out of everyday items—a crumpled ball of paper, a hair tie on a piece of string, or a strip of fleece with a knot tied in the middle. (Remember to only use safe items and tidy them away when you’re not there.)

10. Make a food puzzle toy for your cat. Get a tissue box and fill it with cardboard tubes; put treats in some of the tubes for your kitty to remove with their paws. Or, simply put a treat inside a cardboard tube. Or, make a few holes in the tube and close the ends so your cat has to roll it for treats to fall out.

11. Scoop the litter box more often. Sorry, I know this one feels like work, but it's important for your cat—after all, who wants a dirty toilet? Aim to scoop at least once a day (twice a day is better).

12. Give your cat a cardboard box. Well, I had to include the obvious. A cardboard box is an easy way to give your cat an extra hiding place and/or a horizontal scratching surface.

13. Clean your cat's cat carrier to get rid of any smells from the vet, which they won't like.

14. Put a cozy blanket in the bottom of the carrier and place it in a room where your cat hangs out. This makes the carrier a nice place for your cat to relax—instead of something that predicts a vet visit.

15. Put a piece of your worn clothing down where your cat can sleep on it. (Pick something that you don't mind getting cat hairs on.)

16. Put a soft blanket or a cat bed on your desk so that your cat has a place to nap while you’re at your computer.

17. Instead of tipping your cat's kibble into a storage container, seal the bag and keep the bag in the container. The bag kibble comes in is designed to be good for storage, whereas fats in the food may cause it to go off sooner if stored directly in a plastic container.

18. If you have more than one cat, get extra of everything and spread them out in your home. Cats don't like to share.

19. Make a space on a bookshelf or chest of drawers to give your cat a place to perch high up and survey the room. Bonus points if it's near a window.

20. Get a sisal mat and hang it securely on the wall to make a climbing wall for your cat.

21. If your cat is indoors-only, bring a few things in from outdoors that are safe for them, e.g., rocks, leaves, and pine cones. Put them somewhere your cat will find them, and watch as they explore. It gives them something interesting to sniff and play with.

22. When your cat isn't looking, hide a treat for them to find later.

23. If you notice a sudden change in your cat's behaviour, like a house training lapse, don't assume it's spite or that your cat hates you. Take them to the vet instead in case there's a medical issue.

24. If it's hard to take your cat to the vet, train them to like their carrier and/or ask your veterinarian about how to make trips to the vet easier.

25. Check out this list of 10 things people shouldn't do to their cats, and make a note not to do them.

You can find more tips for your cat (along with the science behind them) in my book Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy.


Todd, Zazie (2022) Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy. Greystone Books.