As the owner of an indoor cat, it’s important to provide mental and physical stimulation—“enrichment”—for your feline friend. Here are a few ways to keep your cat happy, healthy, and on her toes.

Food

Natural hunters, cats enjoy searching for treats and food.

  • Food-dispensing toys — When moved in the right ways, these toys release treats or kibble, providing physical activity and a positive reward.
  • Hide-and-seek — Rather than serving dinner in the same location, place small bowls of kibble or canned food around the house, requiring your cat to “hunt” for her meal. Or, you can choose a special feeding system, like the Indoor Hunting Feeder.
  • Scatter feed — Toss small amounts of treats or kibble around a room while your cat is present. She’ll run around for the kibble, getting mental stimulation and physical exercise. Bonus: Playing with your cat will also strengthen the bond you have with her.

When using food as enrichment, remember to include what you’re giving her in her daily caloric intake so she doesn’t become overweight.

Vertical structures

Providing vertical structures can satisfy your cat’s need to climb and use her claws.

  • Climbing towers — Structures can be purchased or created on your own to permit safe and suitable furniture for your cat to climb and scratch. These towers, often referred to as “cat trees,” are usually covered in carpet to allow proper grip for climbing and comfort when lounging. Available at many price points and in varying sizes and shapes, towers can be found in pet stores and online.
  • Posts and wall mounts — Small, carpeted posts and cardboard-lined wall mounts provide opportunities for vertical and horizontal nail sharpening while satisfying your cat’s natural need to scratch.
  • Perches — Cats love to be elevated so they can monitor their surroundings. Wall-mounted landings and towers—especially when placed next to windows with views of the outdoors—can provide ever-changing enrichment.

By providing acceptable places for your cat to perch, scratch, and climb, she’ll be less likely to perch on your kitchen counter or scratch and climb your curtains and sofa.

Solo play

Cats are excellent at keeping themselves entertained. Providing toys that yield stimulation without your presence is an easy way to add to your cat’s life.

  • Household items — Enrichment doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Cats love empty cardboard boxes, crumbled paper, and empty paper bags.
  • Small toys — Traditional toys, such as balls with bells, felt mice, catnip-filled toys, and circular tracks with balls have the ability to captivate many cats.
  • Larger toys — Collapsible cubes, nylon tunnels, crinkle sacks, and covered pet beds are excellent tools for relaxing and playing.

When choosing toys for solo play time, ensure the items you select are appropriate for unsupervised play. Avoid small toys and strings that can be accidentally swallowed and lead to a gastrointestinal blockage.

Engaged play

Taking the time to connect with your cat is rewarding to you both.

  • Wands — Use a wand with an attached toy, feather, or fabric strip to entertain your cat and enhance her focus and alertness while playing.
  • Household items — You don’t have to purchase toys to have fun with your cat. Make balls from tin foil or newspaper. Toss the ring from a milk jug or a hair tie to play a game of fetch. Get creative! Be sure to put smaller items away when you’re finished because they can be harmful if your cat ingests them.
  • Laser pointer — A popular interactive toy, laser pointers can provide hours of entertainment for your cat. The key to using a laser for play and exercise is to ensure the laser eventually lands on an object your cat can “catch,” so she doesn’t become frustrated. Also, never shine the laser in your cat’s eyes.

A bored cat is often a mischievous cat. Provide physical and mental stimulation so your cat stays happy and healthy. Questions about enriching your cat’s environment? Call us at 615-896-9503.