Winter can be a mixed bag for people. Some love spending time outdoors and taking part in various winter activities, while others prefer to stay inside all warm and cozy, sipping on hot chocolate.
But instead of spending every day indoors on the couch with a cat curled up on your lap, you should consider trying out engaging activities with your cat. Winter is when many people and their cats tend to get a little lethargic. Some exercise can benefit you both!
Whether your cat is an outdoor or indoor cat, here are fun ideas that you can try both inside and outdoors.
The 8 Fun Winter Activities to Do With Your Cat
1. Just Play
Use your cat’s favorite toys and activities, and make a point of playing with your cat about once or twice a day if you can. Feather wands and fishing line toys can get your cat jumping and running.
Laser pointers can also get your cat moving, but don’t overuse the laser, as it can be quite frustrating for cats to never be able to “catch” it.
Some cats have preferences regarding the kinds of toys that they love, so be sure to try out different ones until you find some that your cat responds to. Sometimes, all you’ll need is an empty box!
2. Make Them Work for Their Meal
There are many ways that you can give your cat treats or make mealtime more fun. You can try a puzzle feeder, where your cat will need to bat the toy around so the treats fall out.
You can also hide a few treats in nooks and crannies around your home. This can engage your cat’s hunting instinct!
Slow feeders can slow down cats that tend to gobble their food. These are great for adding extra fun at mealtime, but they also contribute to mental stimulation and can help cats keep off any winter weight.
3. Get Them New Cat Furniture
Cats love high places! Invest in a nice tall cat tree, or consider setting up cat shelves. These can be attached to the wall and enable your cat to travel to spaces that are higher up.
This kind of cat furniture will give your cat a chance to scratch and explore, and it provides them with places that make them feel safe. To save money, you can make your own cat ladders, shelves, and bridges.
4. Try a Leash
If you haven’t already trained your cat to become accustomed to a leash and harness, this is a good time to start the process. Have your cat wear the harness while still inside — start with short time periods and build up from there.
Once your cat seems comfortable with the harness, attach the leash, and try walking with your cat while still indoors.
You can try going outside for short periods and allow your cat to explore the cold goodness of winter. Remember that if you’re cold, your cat is cold, so be prepared for brief sessions.
5. Just Be Outside
If you have an outdoor cat, try joining them while they’re outside. Run around in the yard and play hide and seek. Not all cats like the snow, but some breeds (Norwegian Forest Cats, for example) seem to love it!
6. Provide Cat Entertainment
An entertaining activity that cats seem to enjoy is watching the birds and small animals outside. Set up a cat tree or some kind of perch next to a window that’s likely to have this type of action. Also, consider the bonus of a warm patch of sunlight! If you don’t mind also attracting squirrels, you can also place a bird feeder outside the window.
That said, there usually isn’t much critter activity in the winter, so you can try using technology. This will work best if you have an old notebook or iPad that you don’t use much. This way, you don’t have to worry about scratches.
There are all kinds of animal-related apps and videos that can keep your cat entertained when there aren’t enough of the real things around.
7. Promote Activity While You’re Out
If you’re working most of the day, your cat might get lonely. While this isn’t exactly an activity for you both, it can still help your cat.
If you have everything in place (toys, cat trees, window view, etc.), your cat will likely spend much of the day sleeping and entertaining themselves.
You can also try turning on the TV or radio, which might help keep your cat company.
One activity that every cat owner enjoys is cuddle time — if you happen to have a lap cat, of course. Spending part of your day with your cat curled up and snuggled on your lap is a lovely way to spend time together. It will keep you both warm on a cold winter’s day and will form a stronger bond between you.
Keeping Your Cat Safe in the Winter
This is particularly critical if you have an outdoor cat. Also, some cats prefer to spend as little time outside as possible. Remember, if you’re cold outside, so is your cat! If your cat has a thin, short coat, you should limit how long they stay out. If it’s snowy and below freezing, outdoor time should be no longer than 1 hour.
When your cat comes back inside, wipe down their paws. This will remove dirt and excess snow, as well as any potential salt or ice that can be harmful to your cat’s pads or if your cat licks their paws and ingests it.
Taking Your Cat With You
If the idea of a fun winter activity with your cat includes bringing them with you, we have a few suggestions.
Consider bringing a backpack if you love taking your cat on hikes at any time of the year. It will help if your cat gets tired or needs a safe place. A fleecy blanket and for particularly cold days, a hand warmer (which must be kept in its own separate covering/blanket), can also make the backpack incredibly cozy. Be sure to put your cat in the backpack frequently, which will enable them to warm up.
You can also try out a coat that’s made for cats. Some cats might tolerate it fine, though it might take a few practice runs at home. If you have a shorthaired cat, these coats can help keep their core much warmer.
If you have the budget or the skills to make your own items, setting up a part of your home (or all of it!) for your cat should help keep them from getting too bored and lazy!
Try to play with your cat more often during these long, cold, and dark months, and make sure they are drinking enough water and not eating too many treats.
You can also speak to your vet for a few ideas on the best food for your cat, particularly if they are prone to gaining weight. Keep researching for other ideas to help keep your cat active and happy!
Featured Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay