Enrichment Activities For Your Cat
Experienced cat breeders or owners know that their pets dislike being bored. Despite their frequently laid-back nature and love of naps, cats actually require a lot of mental and physical stimulation to maintain their health.
Many of the common behavioural issues of cats can be traced back to a lack of socialisation and enrichment. Leaving a cat without any way to expend their energy can cause them to take out their frustrations in other ways, such as scratching, potty issues and even aggression toward people.
When it comes to feline enrichment, there are endless possibilities to keep your cat both mentally and physically stimulated. Let’s take a look at some of your options:
Puzzles and games
There are many different types of puzzles and games available for cats, from simple treat-dispensing toys to more complex board games. There are a variety of puzzle toys on the market, so how do you choose the best one for your cat? It depends on your cat’s individual personality and preferences. Some cats prefer toys that dispense food, while others prefer toys they can bat around or chase. And some cats like a challenge, while others prefer something easier.
However, our favourite choice that is suitable for almost all cats is the Kitty Kong. The Kitty Kong is a great all-around puzzle toy for cats of all ages and abilities. It can be filled with wet or dry food, treats or catnip, and the unique shape makes it bounce erratically, keeping your cat engaged. You can also freeze wet food inside the Kong for an extra challenge.
Hunting and scavenging
Even though they’re not actively hunting prey, most cats still have a strong instinct to stalk and pounce on their food. You can channel this natural behaviour by hiding small meals or treats around your home for your cat to find.
There are a number of ways you can help your cat practice this. There are cat flirt sticks that can help you replicate the movement of a prey animal with a lure, and electronic cat toys that move like mice or other small animals. Depending on your budget, you can go as cheap or as expensive as you like.
Cats love to climb, so give them plenty of vertical space to explore. Set up cat trees, shelves, or window perches at different levels around your home to give your cat(s) a place to perch and survey their kingdom. You can even create a DIY climbing wall using strips of carpet or fabric attached to the wall with Velcro.
Cat trees are a popular choice since they don’t require anything to be drilled or taped to walls. You can check the numerous cat tree options available on most online pet stores, or build your own cat tree at home. The only caveat is that the cat tree should be well-built and free from surfaces that could hurt your cat – so you’ll need to take care to sand down sharp edges and make the cat tree as sturdy as possible.
Scratching posts and other feline furniture
Scratching is a natural behaviour for cats, so provide them with plenty of scratching posts and other feline-friendly furniture. This will not only help protect your furniture from being shredded, but it will also give your cat(s) a place to exercise and stretch their muscles. Look for scratching posts made from sturdy materials like sisal or jute, or try a cardboard scratch pad for something that doesn’t require much vertical space.
If you have a particularly active indoor cat, you may want to consider getting an exercise wheel. These cat-sized hamster wheels allow cats to run and burn off energy without leaving the safety of the indoors. Just be sure to get one that’s specifically designed for cats, and don’t cheap out – the speed and size of the wheel can be dangerous if the wheel falls apart as your cat uses it.
A catio is basically a fenced-in outdoor area for cats – think of it like a porch or sunroom for humans, but for cats! Catios are great because they give your cats the chance to enjoy the outdoors without having to worry about them getting lost or getting into fights with other animals. Plus, you can customise them however you want to make sure your kitties have everything they need to stay entertained (climbers, scratchers, toys, etc.).
This is one of the preferred options to let your cat experience the outdoors without supervision since cats are excellent hunters and can decimate the wildlife in their territory.
Just like dogs, cats can be trained to walk on a leash. This is a great way to get them some exercise and fresh air while still keeping them safe. Be sure to start slow and use a harness that fits properly before taking them out on longer walks. Before doing this, however, make sure that your cat is already well-socialised and can get along with other animals. You will also need to do leash training so that your cat doesn’t run off if they encounter another cat or a prey animal.
As a backup, have a cat carrier with you if your cat gets overstimulated or scared. Trying to get a fearful cat to walk is often futile, and can be dangerous for both you and your cat.
As amusing as it may sound, getting your cat a companion is a great way to keep them from being bored, and there isn’t any reason the companion needs to be a cat!
Dogs also make good companions and just so long as the dog and the cat are introduced to each other and the home environment in a slow, careful and calm manner; over time they are likely to develop a bond.
There are numerous tales from animal photographers of cats and dogs happily living alongside each other, but like most relationships you can expect the occasional disagreement or tussle.
There are a wealth of enrichment options for cats of any breed or temperament. By giving your cat what they need to thrive, you’ll have a better relationship with your cat and can rest assured that your furry companion is living their best life.