You hear stories of cats being kept in basements or garages for most if not all of their life. This is utterly barbaric and the owners of these cats should be prosecuted in my view. They are not. There are many full-time indoor cats in America and all of them should at least have access to a window to allow them to observe the outside. The sensory environment is very important to a domestic cat. They have highly developed senses. When my cat goes outside he smells everything, intently all the time. That provides stimulation just by itself. And cat owners have a duty to provide their cats with a stimulating environment.
This ‘cat solarium’ is impressive and I’d bet the cats love it:
Cats observe the environment intently. Another pastime that my cat has is to simply watch outside his catio. Cats spend a lot of time on window sills or on some other platform looking out of a window. All cat owners should provide some sort of platform next to a window for their cat. This particularly applies to full-time indoor cats.
Researchers in 1992 found that the cats involved in research and housed in a group spent most of the day sitting on a window perch “watching activity in the outside hallway”. Domestic cats derive a lot of pleasure from these sorts of simple activities.
Olfactory enrichment is very hard if not impossible to provide to a full-time indoor cat. I believe that domestic cats obtain a lot of pleasure in smelling the smells and scents of outdoor life; the smells of nature which are hugely varied. Olfactory enrichment is relatively underused in discussing the ‘catification’ of a cat guardian’s house. Humans have a relatively poor sense of smell compared to cats.
This morning I tried to loosen the door on my cat flap using WD-40 (an oil-based substance). This simple act prevented my cat using the cat flap! I had to wipe it all off and place my scent on the cat flap before he’d use it again. This just shows how sensitive to smells the domestic cat is. If a cat does not know a smell then he/she becomes cautious about it and needs to understand it before proceeding.
Although cat owners can buy audio material specifically tailored to domestic cats to make the environment more pleasant, I don’t believe we truly understand the effectiveness of these audio tapes and discs. As far as I’m aware, the effectiveness has not been evaluated. Although cat music is thought to prevent cats from becoming startled by sudden noises and “to provide a degree of continuity in the environment” (three studies dated 1995 by Benn, James and Newberry).