Easy Home Enrichment for Your Cat
Your cat spends its days within your home, 24/7. Have you ever wondered if he/she gets bored? The answer is absolutely yes! Without environmental enrichment (aka: something to do), your cat may turn to undesirable or destructive behaviors to entertain itself.
The good news is that enriching your home environment is easy! The goal is to maximize your cat’s quality of life through simple changes to your house and daily routine.
Five basic needs areas for cats:
- Every cat needs at least one refuge or resting place of his/her own. Most cats enjoy several perches around the house of various heights.
- Consider placing a cat tree or shelf near a window or adding a heating pad on the lowest setting to make a perch more enticing for your cat.
- Other hiding places may include cardboard boxes with an entrance cut-out or brown paper bags.
- Cats should have access to fresh food and water at all times. Some enjoy running water from a fountain or faucet as a special treat.
- Meal time can be made more exciting by feeding in an interactive toy or by hiding treats around the house for your kitty to “hunt”.
- A cat’s natural instinct to chew can be met with cat grass or catnip, to enhance their daily experience.
- Remember to keep toxic plants out of reach from curious kitties!
- Consult the ASPCA Pet Poisoning Hotline for further information about toxic plants: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control
- While not the most glamorous part of cat ownership, your cat needs a clean litter box as much as food and water. Most cats tend to prefer fine-grain unscented litter, but each cat is unique and preferences may vary by individual.
- It is generally recommended to have at minimum one litter box more than the number of cats in the household.
- Most cats enjoy some form of social interaction daily, including attention, petting, brushing and interactive toys.
- Typical play behaviors such as stalking, chasing, pouncing, and biting are natural to cats and should be expected in a happy, healthy cat.
- Each cat may vary regarding preferred toy types, though generally preferences follow favored prey categories:
- Examples of interactive toys include:
- Laser pointers
- Feather wands
- String/chase games
- ping pong ball
- Rotate toys frequently to keep kitty interested and prolong the period when each is still considered “fun”.
- Training your cat is another good way to strengthen your bond while keeping kitty’s mind engaged and active. Cats can be trained to perform many tricks; you are only limited by your imagination!
- You can even train kitty to accept a harness to go for walks outside and broaden their horizons safely.
- Cats may also enjoy interactions with other pets in the household (dogs, cats).
- Please note that prey species such as rodents, rabbits, or chinchillas are likely highly stressed by interactions with a predator such as your cat and are discouraged.
Activity and Stimulation
- Cats need entertainment to keep life interesting. A bored cat is a lazy cat, often prone to obesity.
- Access to windows allows a cat to watch bird feeders, insects, wildlife and even other cats outside.
- Indoor opportunities abound as well; fish tanks can provide hours of entertainment- as long as they are cat-proof!
- Leaving the radio on softly can offer an interesting change in your kitty’s daily routine.
- For an ultimate treat, some people have fenced areas of their yard to keep kitty safe from harm but able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the outdoors while basking in the sunshine.
Why Care About Enrichment?
- There’s more to a happy cat than physical health; environmental enrichment offers an outlet for natural behaviors otherwise stifled by indoor life and reduces stress in your cat.
- Boredom and stress without an appropriate outlet can lead to “undesirable” behaviors such as inappropriate urination or scratching furniture.
- Enriching the environment offers an outlet for your cat’s species-specific behaviors while preserving your home and happiness with your pet.