Keeping cats happy, entertained and mentally stimulated is important for overall health and can help immensely in preventing behavior issues.
How can this be achieved? Below are several ideas to keep your feline family members content and loving life.
- One great option is an interactive puzzle feeder. Cats are natural hunters and eating free choice out of a food bowl can cause over eating and boredom. There are lots of fun options available to help make obtaining food more entertaining and a challenge. Visit the website foodpuzzlesforcats.com for dozens of ideas and information on dry food puzzles, wet food puzzles and homemade puzzles. Rotating puzzles to keep your cat engaged is the best way to keep things fresh and interesting. One that we like is the Trixie 5 in 1 activity center. A couple of our staff members, including myself, use this one for their own cats and find it helpful in keeping their cats engaged with “catching” their food and getting them to slow down when eating.
- Cat towers are important for giving cats high places to retreat to. Outdoor cats can climb trees to feel safe, but indoor cats often don’t have high places to go to when they feel nervous or unsure. Tall cat towers can be very valuable in providing both exercise and high places where cats can get away from toddlers, rambunctious dogs, or visitors. Staggered cat shelves mounted on walls can provide the same safe retreat.
- Activity centers and interactive cat toys can provide more stimulation than your run of the mill cat toy. Change out toys often to prevent boredom. Some cats are particular about what toys or activities they like, so you may have to experiment a bit.
- What cat doesn’t love an empty box? Leave out an empty box, or a paper grocery bag. Most cats will enjoy playing in and on top of both. Put out new ones on occasion to keep things interesting,
- Simple and inexpensive toys can be made from balled up paper or aluminum foil. Many cats love playing with the rings from milk jugs or wine corks. Be careful if allowing your cat to play with ribbon, yarn or things like hair scrunchies as these can be ingested and can cause life threatening intestinal blockages.
- Bird feeders outside of windows can entertain your cat and bring out their wild instincts. If you see your cat getting excited by the movement of birds, bring out a new toy to engage that pent up energy and excitement.
- There are even apps for cats that you can download onto your phone or tablet. Try Cat Alone – Cat toy, Cat Fishing 2 or Mouse. These apps are made especially for cat entertainment!
- Teach your cat to chase kibble or treats across a room. My cat, Cali, loves this game! I make sure to have her attention and gesture which way I am going to throw and she will chase single pieces of kibbles or treats across the floor. Doing this on a laminate or hard floor surface helps your cat to hear the treat as it rolls or bounces. Cali also loves to chase treats thrown down the basement stairs. A great way to provide exercise once they figure out the game!
It’s easy for indoor cats to get bored, lazy and under stimulated. This can cause behavior problems, weight issues, acting out and depression. It’s important to keep our feline friends safe, but it’s also important to keep them engaged, stimulated and interested in their environment. With a little effort and creativity, environmental enrichment can make for much happier and healthier cats.