Kitty Enrichment is Good for Everyone

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Keeping your cat both mentally and physically active is as important as making sure they are microchipped, have a good diet, and get to the veterinarian for regular visits. Best Friends Society shares these tips for making sure your cat has the best of all worlds.

Self-play toys for cats – from cardboard boxes and catnip-filled mice to toys with springs or mounted to walls and doors, these provide good stimulation both when you are and are not around.  As with any product, make sure you take the time to watch your cat or kitten interact with anything new to make sure it is safe. Sometimes, a scrunched up wad of paper is the best thing ever!

If you enjoy DIY, check out these Top 10 Hilariously Fun DIY Catnip Toys.

Top 10 Hilariously Fun DIY Catnip Toys

Food puzzles – With a variety of names including foraging toys, puzzle feeders, treat dispensers, and, of course, food puzzles, this is a great way to encourage kitty’s natural inclination to hunt for food.  Trixie Pets and Nina Ottosson carry a variety of great products along this line, with varying features, challenge levels, and price points.

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And there are always DIY options, too, such as doing a scatter feed.  In short, simply toss kibble across the floor or hide small piles in certain places to find.  Sort of a kitty scavenger hunt.

Interactive toys – Playing with wand-type toys, fabric strips, even laser pointers provide great bonding opportunities for you and your cat.  They key is to make sure that kitty “catches” things periodically so boredom and frustration don’t set in.  Some cats will even learn to play “catch.”  These toys don’t need to cost much, of anything at all.  A ball of foil or string tied to a plastic milk jug ring make for great entertainment. Try out different things to see what is most appealing.

 

 

Using vertical space for cat enrichment – Perches, cat furniture and trees, even shelves near windows where they can see the outdoors will give cats the climbing and clawing opportunities they need.  It may be as easy as clearing off the back of the sofa or the big chair to give them a place from which they can observe their world.

If you have access to a balcony or backyard, consider potted plants that might attract butterflies or a bird feeder or bird bath, looking out the window will provide hours of entertainment. Even pinwheels can do the trick. Just be aware of any outdoor cats that may hang out in view as sometimes they can create stress for your cat and be the cause of indoor marking.

And don’t be afraid to give making your own cat furnture a go, either.  Heavy cardboard boxes and packing tape can go a long way to create something sturdy or look at the 7 Free Cat Tree Plans for inspiration. And if you really want to go all out, see this video:

Catteries and catios – If you do have an area outdoors, regardless of size, to which you can grant your kitty access, a catio may be a great solution.  Once installed, you can even add other elements to keep the environment fun and enriching.  The most important element, naturally, is safety, so you will want to make sure the structure is stable and sound, both initially, and with regular checks.

Catio Spaces has some great ideas on their site, and you can sign up to receive tips, as well.

 

Video and audio products – Your local library, pet supply store, or online retailers, like Amazon, are great resources for both CDs, DVDs, and other types of media to interest your cat. Check out a variety to see what both you and your cat enjoy.

Aromatherapy for cats- While catnip is the best known aromatic for felines, Best Friends suggests some interesting ideas such as getting boxes from the grocer in which fruits and vegetables had been transported and bringing in sticks and leaves from the outside. Since cats become accustomed to scents quickly, be sure to change or rotate the smells frequently to encourage engagement and interest. Make sure, whatever you choose to do, that the items you present to your cat are safe for them to be around and not harmful in any form.

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Teaching your cat tricks – With positive reinforcement and a little patience, cats can become quite adept at learning cues.  The Clicker Training method is highly successful for many animals, and may lead to your cat learning more complicated behaviors.  How about teaching your cat to play the piano?

 

Cat comfort zones – Maybe this seems obvious, but every cat needs a safe place to which it can retreat and relax, out of the fray. Whether it is a crate, closet, particular high shelf, under the bed or covers, or sectioned off area of a room, when kitty is in the “safe zone,” it is important they are given the time to rest and rejuvenate as needed.  Some folks will even add something to encourage the calm nature of the area, such as the scent of lavender or providing a special diffuser.

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Playing it safe – However you choose to enrich the life the your cat, it is important to make sure that they are safe. Best Friends advises the following:

Whatever types of enrichment you choose for your cat, make sure you play safe. Cats are capable of eating almost any object, and many objects can cause serious problems if they are ingested. For example, string toys should be used only with supervision. Remember to supervise your cat with any new toy to make sure it’s safe.

Caution must also be used when playing with a laser pointer. The laser can damage your cat’s vision, and some cats may begin to focus too much on the moving light. Also, keep in mind that any other pets or children in your house can potentially choke on smaller toys or pieces of toys. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions.

 

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