Exercise for cats kept safe and happy at home [Infographic]

Should New Zealand cats be kept indoors? Having a pet cat is a joy unlike any other. Here in Aotearoa, we have a cat ownership rate that tops places including Australia, the US and the UK. But there's an ongoing debate - should we let our feline friends roam outdoors or should we keep them at home? Well, as it turns out, keeping your cat on your property might be the best way to go.

So, why is this? Well, once upon a time, New Zealand was a haven for unique bird species. These feathered inhabitants evolved over millions of years, adapting to their specific environments. Some, like the iconic kiwi, “forgot” how to fly because they had no need—the land was free from mammalian predators.

But then, mammals arrived, and everything changed. Introduced cats, rats, and other species posed threats that evolution hadn’t prepared these birds for. Now, New Zealanders face a delicate balance: preserving their cherished birdlife while also caring for their beloved cats. Perhaps it’s time to rethink feline companionship to ensure the legacy of New Zealand’s feathered wonders endures.

There's plenty of research suggesting that stay at home cats live healthier and longer lives. They're less likely to contract viral infections or parasites, get into fights, or have accidents, which can all lead to costly vet bills.

While stay at home cats are safer and healthier, some strictly indoor cats may be at higher risk of developing obesity so it is important to keep them moving. How can we make sure our indoor cats have everything they need to stay happy, healthy, and enriched?

Garden with cat proof fencing

If you have a garden, installing cat-proof fencing is an excellent way to provide your feline friends with some outdoor time while keeping them (and the local wildlife) safe. This type of fencing usually consists of cat rollers, netting or mesh attached to existing fences, making it impossible for cats to climb over or dig under.

It's also important to make sure that there are no loose spots in your fence where a cat can squeeze out (or unwanted visitors sneak in!)


Next up is the 'catio' - no, it's not a new type of hipster beverage. It's a patio designed specifically for your cat. A catio is an outdoor enclosure that lets your cat experience the outside world without any risk.

Outdoor time for cats bears numerous benefits. It serves as an excellent source of mental stimulation as it introduces cats to new scents, sounds, and movements, which can be extremely enriching.

Inside cat safe at home infographic

Enriched indoor environment

No outdoor space? No worries! There are plenty of ways to keep your indoor cat physically and mentally stimulated.

Interactive toys

Interactive toys are a must-have for stay at home cats. These types of toys require your cat to use their natural hunting instincts, keeping them physically and mentally active. Some popular interactive toy options include those filled with catnip; or battery-operated ones that move around on their own. Even options as simple as a ball can keep your cat’s mind occupied and encourage them to move around.

Cat exercise wheels

Exercise wheels can be a great way to promote exercise for your pet, making them well worth the investment. Particularly for high-energy cats, cat exercise wheels make sure your cat is able to stay mentally and physically stimulated within a small space.

Feather wands

Feather wands turn your living room into a jungle playground, mimicking prey movements. These toys get your cat to jump, run, and pounce, providing a much needed workout. Remember to let your cat "catch" the feather occasionally to keep the game interesting.

It’s also important to avoid using laser pointers with your cat since it might trigger frustration and stress, both of which can contribute to compulsive behaviours. It can also be frustrating since it doesn’t allow cats to complete the hunting sequence and ‘catch’ the prey at the end.

Climbing structures

Climbing structures, or 'cat trees', offer a fantastic way for your cat to exercise. They also provide a great place for your cat to scratch, climb, and even nap.

Cats instinctively seek high places, a behaviour inherited from ancestors that climbed trees to escape predators or hunt. Cat trees or shelves provide vertical space, fulfilling this need, and offering a safe spot to observe their surroundings.

Hide and seek

Hide and seek isn't just for kids! Hide treats or toys around your house and watch as your cat turns into a feline detective. This game is another great way to engage their hunting instincts and channel their inner predator.


Cats love to explore, and tunnels are a great way for them to satisfy this curiosity. They can crawl, hide, and play in tunnels, providing them with both physical and mental stimulation. You can purchase ready-made cat tunnels or create your own using boxes or blankets.

DIY puzzle feeders

Puzzle feeders make cats work for their food, stimulating them mentally. You can create your own using everyday items like cardboard tubes, plastic bottles, or egg cartons. Just fill them with treats or dry food and watch as your cat tries to access the goodies inside.

Every cat is unique

Remember, every cat is unique and will have its own preferences. Don't be afraid to experiment with different activities and see what your cat enjoys most. With a bit of creativity and care your cat will be having a ripper time at home.

To ensure further protection for your cat, consider SPCA Pet Insurance. Get a quote online today and find the best coverage for you and your pet.