Now fish tanks are great. And cats love watching birds outside a window. I don't recommend birds inside a house with cats, because birds are very intelligent and know they are being stalked. But a birdfeeder outside a window that cats can watch is a great idea.
Q: Can you train a cat to walk on a leash?
A: Yes, but they don't get a lot of exercise from it because they're too busy sniffing around and checking things out. The main reason to walk your cat on a leash is to safely give them some time outdoors when they can't run away. It's more mental exercise than physical exercise.
Q: My cat doesn't like toys, or gets bored with them quickly. What can I do?
A: Toys for cats to play with by themselves have marginal interest. You've got this ball on a spring. The cat bops it a few times, it goes up and down, and the cat says "OK, now what?"
Cats do want toys, but the toys should be "prey play" oriented. In the wild, a cat will only stalk prey for about three to five minutes. After that, he'll give up and go search somewhere else. So don't try to play longer than the genetic capacity of the cat.
When he's beginning to lose interest, change to another game. Now, some cats will really like bird and they'll play that longer than other games. Some might really like the bug. Fine. It doesn't have to be equal time.
Also, let them win occasionally. Put a tasty treat under the toy and let them pounce on it, eat it, and win.
I also believe if a kitten between 7 weeks and 12 weeks is given a lot of toys to play with, it will probably be more likely to play with toys when it gets older, although that's just my opinion. Two great cat toys are ping pong balls, because they're light and they go a long way if you whack them, and walnuts, because they make a little crackly sound, like a mouse scurrying away, and they roll irregularly, like a mouse would run.
A really good game is bathtub hockey. Give a kitten a ping pong ball in the bathtub and just watch what happens.
Q: How long should our play periods last, and how often should I have them?
A: As often as the cat will play, because a tired cat is a well behaved cat. But at least a couple times a day. And the best time to play is right before bed, so you can tire them out.
Q: Can cats learn tricks like a dog?
A: They're not genetically very well equipped for this. Dogs are pack animals, and they're always looking at their counterparts, seeing what they're doing, and then changing their behavior based on what the other dogs in the pack do.
Cats, on the other hand, hunt on their own. If another cat comes around, they pay attention only long enough to drive them away. They're not taking their cues from other cats. That doesn't mean we can't train cats to do things. They can learn simple, basic things. But it takes a lot longer than it does to train a dog to do a trick.