My cat is vehemently an outside cat. When she's stuck in the house for more than a few hours she starts clawing at the back door and yowling.

Here's the problem: I live in Massachusetts, where the winters tend to be long and cold. She'll still yowl about going outside, and she doesn't believe me when I tell her that she really doesn't want to go out. So, I open the door, she sticks her head out, and nopes right back inside (occasionally she actually will head out for a while, in 20 °F / -7°C weather, no less).

Anyway, a few weeks of this and she starts to go stir-crazy. Climbing the walls, jumping on and off of shelves, mauling carpets and the like. So, what can I do to keep her from getting bored?

As far as toys go, her tastes are rather interesting. I've never been able to get her to pay attention to a laser pointer for more than 10 seconds, and she ignores the vast majority of the toys that we bring her. Every so often she'll get a hankering for catnip, but that's highly inconsistent. We've had limited success with a few toy mice.

Really, the only thing that will get her attention most of the time is string/yarn, but after a few weeks of winter, she decides that my fur-lined leather gloves absolutely must die - seriously, I have to hide them, or the next thing I know she'll be prancing off with one of them.

What else can I try to keep her stimulated?

  • 1
    Sounds like an extra pair of fur-lined gloves would be just the ticket.
    – Oldcat
    Mar 27, 2015 at 16:53
  • Some cats do decide that furry leather must be a kill to be chewed on, and all you can do is keep it out of reach and/or get them their own piece of rabbit fur to murder.
    – keshlam
    Apr 28, 2015 at 13:03
  • I assure you she wants to go out. Just not within the ten seconds you're willing to hold the door open. Get a cat door.
    – Mazura
    May 26, 2020 at 3:42
  • @Mazura I no longer live in an area with significant winter weather and the cat in question sadly died almost two years ago, so it's not much of a concern any more. May 26, 2020 at 18:26

3 Answers 3


There are a lot of toys on the market designed to stimulate cats who are stuck in indoor environments, and usually they are designed to mimic behaviours that cats use outside and in the wild, etc.

Some suggestions you might want to try that don't involve buying possibly expensive toys that your cat might not like are:

  • give it food to hunt. I often use cat treats, which I can hide in boxes or paper bags or the like and my cat will hunt them down. He likes both the box/bag to play in, and the hunting the food.
  • give it something to climb and/or scratch on - if your cat is like other outdoor cats I know, they likely like climbing on whatever they find (fences, trees, etc), and trying to mimic that inside with a cat tree or something similar might help.
  • if she likes string, you might want to consider a toy that is on a string - you can get ones that are on sticks that you hold, or you can also find ones that you can mount over a door or in a door frame that they can chase and pounce.

Ashley Nunn made some great suggestions, and I won't repeat her advice.

I will add, though, a couple of suggestions:

  • Ensure she has a comfortable perch with a view. Some cats can be quite content to watch what's going on outside. There are a variety of cat perches that you can mount on a window sill, or, if you have a cat tree, such as Ashley Nunn suggested, make sure to place it somewhere that provides a good view of the outside, if possible.

  • Try to come up with some games that allow you to interact directly with the cat. I've known cats who loved to play fetch (with objects ranging from plastic soda bottle lids to full-sized feather dusters), hide-and-seek (take turns stalking each other), or peek-a-boo (hide behind a chair or other piece of furniture, then slowly peer over it at your cat, then duck back down; rinse and repeat until you get a paw whacking you on the nose!).

  • Since most treats aren't an option for you, you can turn regular food into a game by throwing individual pieces for her to chase. This assumes, of course, that your cat is willing to eat dry food; don't try throwing canned food in your house!

  • This one may seem particularly odd, but it may be worth a try: television. We had one cat who liked to watch (I kid you not!) nature shows featuring feline predators. We noticed this when she stopped suddenly in front of the TV while a documentary about a lion pack was playing. She turned, sat down squarely in front of the TV, and stared at it until the next commercial break. There are DVDs you can purchase that are intended to provide distractions and entertainment for cats, but we've never found any our cats showed any interest in (including the one who liked to watch lions).

  • I have a cat that likes to swat at the tails of other cats on Youtube videos played on the TV
    – Oldcat
    Mar 27, 2015 at 16:54

I made a toy for her. My cat has a huge basket full of toys that she never plays with. I noticed that she likes string, feathers and things that dangle. So I put together a toy using fishing line, 2 beads (for weight), origami paper crane, a piece of wire and a small toy with feathers. I strung it all up using the techniques I used when learning how to fish. Using a hooked screw, I strung it up from the ceiling. She LOVES it! I will change it up by adding a stool underneath for an added obstacle. I frequently change out the paper crane and feather toy because she tears it apart.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.