Enrichment for cats is vital to help our cats live their best lives. Enrichment is an opportunity to give our cats the opportunity to play, learn, explore, and use all their senses. For your cat's overall well-being and quality of life it's important that they have access to enrichment activities.
Although some people think of cats as being self-sufficient, cats of all ages benefit from enrichment activities. Cats thrive when they are given outlets for mental stimulation and physical exercise. Enrichment helps keep cats from getting bored and improves their overall quality of life.
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Cat enrichment can prevent boredom and destructive behaviors
Adding enrichment to your cat's day can improve your cat's overall well-being and mental health. Enrichment provides opportunities for your cat to channel their natural instincts leaving cats feeling not just entertained but more fulfilled. They are also more likely to have better relationships with their families.
Cats are also less likely to experience symptoms of boredom. Cats who are bored are more likely to have behavior problems owners find challenging. This can include excessive vocalization, scratching, and elimination outside the litter box.
Play your way to a less-stressed cat
Adding enrichment into your cat's routine can help cats be less stressed, and support cats in coping with stressful situations. Interactive games, scratching posts, and supplying places to climb and hide can not only encourage cats to get exercise but also help cats to be more relaxed. These outlets can make cats more confident and comfortable with changes in the home — like visitors coming over.
Create environmental enrichment indoors for your cat
Hang a birdfeeder outside your window for your cat to observe
One of the best ways to provide enrichment for your cat is to increase the amount of enrichment in their daily environment. If you have an indoor cat who is curious about the world outside your windows you can encourage them to watch and engage with the outside world by hanging up bird feeders outside your windows to give your cats something consistent to watch.
Build a catio for your cat
You might also want to consider building a catio. Catios can provide cats with access to the scents, sounds, and sights of the outdoors — while also keeping them safe. Your cat doesn't have to go outside to provide them with enrichment in their home environment.
Give your cat access to heights around your home
Climbing and jumping are naturally enriching activities for cats. Scratching posts, cat trees, perches, and shelves are all great ways to give your cat access to heights within your home. You'll also want to build safe hiding spaces for your cat to retreat to when they need a break. Not only will these spaces help prevent your cat from scratching your furniture they will them to get more exercise. These opportunities will also allow your cat to feel more confident and secure when they can observe their home from above.
Enrichment ideas for your cat
Enrichment provides cats with outlets to utilize their natural instincts. Outlets can include games, play, or activities that encourage mental and physical exercise as well as engagement. Enrichment can also include spending more time playing with your cat, turning everyday activities into a game, and providing your cat with safe and interesting places to explore.
Create a DIY cardboard box puzzle toy for your cat
You don't have to spend a lot of money to provide your cat with enrichment around the house. Paper bags and cardboard boxes you already have at home can be used to create easy DIY puzzle toys for your cat. Here are steps to make a simple puzzle for your cat,
- Take clean and empty paper bags or cardboard boxes and drop some of your cat's favorite toys, catnip, and/or cat treats or kibble food into the bag and boxes.
- Then, show the bag and boxes to your cat, or let them find the puzzle on their own.
- When your cat approaches the box/bag, encourage your cat to use their sense of smell to "hunt" for what boxes have treats and toys hidden inside, and then use their paws to pull their favorite toys and treats out of the box.
Make mealtime fun and enriching for your cat
An easy way to build enrichment into your cat's day is to make mealtime a fun activity. To do this, ditch your cat's regular bowl and instead feed your cat their food in interactive toys, food puzzles, and puzzle feeders. These puzzles and food toys inspire your cat to use their mind to figure out how to manipulate the puzzle to get their meal.
A cat's sense of smell is much stronger than ours and searching out toys and treats can be highly stimulating. Turning mealtime into a game help prevent cats from scarfing down their food and makes mealtime into a game that encourages cats to pounce, and paw at their food.
Food puzzles can even be brought with your cat to veterinarian appointments. Puzzles can help improve a cat's associations and reduce stress levels during exams.
The bottom line
All cats benefit from having an enriching life. Enrichment is about fulfilling your cat's natural instincts and finding ways to engage your cat mentally and physically. The goal is to increase the amount of playtime your cat gets indoors. Provide your cat with opportunities to be mentally engaged, entertained, and challenged. Increasing your cat's enrichment levels can not only improve your relationship — but also improve your cat's behavior in the long term.