Have you ever watched dog agility competitions in person or on TV? Agility isn't just for dogs! Cat Agility competitions organized by the International Cat Agility Tournaments are becoming increasingly popular. Even if you don't have dreams of competing with your cat — it's important for cats of all ages to stay active. Obstacle courses or at-home agility courses that cats can explore and run through are great sources of fun and cat enrichment. Creating an agility course for your cat in your hallway or living room is also an excellent way for you and your cat to bond and spend quality time together.
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Why build an obstacle course for your cat?
An obstacle course is a fantastic way to provide your cat with new and exciting enrichment opportunities. For active cats, an obstacle course can be a good way to get more physical exercise and mental stimulation. For cats who are less active, a cat obstacle course can inspire them to increase their levels of activity. Keeping your cat physically active can not only improve their physical health, but it can also help to reduce boredom-related behavioral issues.
Items in your home for a DIY cat obstacle course
To build an obstacle course for your cat you don't need a lot of expensive or complicated equipment. Think about how you can repurpose your everyday items to create a playground for your cat. An engaging obstacle course for your cat can be built with household items you already have.
Items to include for example could be boxes, bags, and broomsticks. Boxes and bags can be used as jumps or obstacles that your cat needs to crawl into or through. A broomstick propped up on soup cans or small cardboard boxes can make a great jump. Step stools can be platforms for your cat to jump up and pause on. Ottomans or cat trees can be used as obstacles to jump up on. Or, you can teach your cat to walk along the back of the couch as a runway.
Get creative when you're thinking about items for your cat obstacle course. Once you start building, you'll likely start seeing regular household items in a new light — and start to envision how you can utilize them for playing with your cat.
Supplies you can purchase for a DIY cat agility course
In addition to the DIY obstacles, you can also purchase obstacles and other equipment for your cat's agility course. Play tunnels can be found at most pet stores, or in children's toy secretions. These are great for giving your cat something to run through. Small PVC pipes can be purchased inexpensively at a hardware store. They can be used to build jumps, step ladders, platforms or weave poles. Hula hoops and other kids' toys can be found at dollar stores. Similarly, at-home agility equipment that is sold for dogs can also be used for creating an engaging obstacle course for your cat.
Cat obstacle course safety considerations
All cats regardless of their age or breed can enjoy playing in an agility course. Once you've created the obstacles, put them together in an open area of your home! Remember to make sure that anything you purchase or build for the obstacle is stable and secure for your cat. Don't ask your cat to get onto something that could fall, startle or injure themselves. Keep the heights of the obstacles and jumps low so. as not to strain or injure your cat. Also, avoid asking your cat to jump on slippery floors like hardwood or tile.
How to do cat agility training
When the obstacle course is finished it's time to introduce it to your cat for the first time. Make sure to use positive reinforcement training methods such as clicker training to train your cat to complete the course. You can let your cat explore the obstacles on their own to make it comfortable for them. You can also use treats to encourage your cat to explore the obstacles.
Once your cat is comfortable with each part of the cat agility course, it's time to put them together in a sequence. Get your cat's attention with high-value cat treats or cat toys your cat is enthusiastic about to lure your cat onto the obstacles and through the course. As your cat successfully navigates the course be sure to praise and reward your cat.
Once your cat has mastered the first course you can try timing your cat to see how quickly they can complete it. Then, try moving the obstacles around and setting up a different course for your cat. Before you know it, your cat might be ready to strut their stuff at your next local cat shows.
Creating an obstacle course for your cat can be an excellent source of enrichment for your indoor cat. All cat breeds of any age can enjoy an obstacle course. You can use supplies you have around the house like boxes and furniture to create an obstacle for your cat to explore and play in. You can also purchase equipment like play tunnels for building an agility course. These DIY cat agility courses are a great opportunity for you to spend quality time bonding with your cat — while keeping your cat active and mentally stimulated.