Possibilities for Cat Enrichment

Cats Playing in Living Room

Amazing and clever animals are cats. Their way of existence is a reflection of the predatory abilities and tendencies required to get food in the wild. A cat must rest, stalk, pursue, pounce, kill, play, eat, and groom among other things during the course of the day. They become bored if we don't provide them chances to perform these things. Numerous issues, including disruptive behaviors, anger, anxiety, and more, can arise as a result of boredom. We all want our pets to have the greatest possible life!

What Is Enrichment?

Cats need the chance to engage in their innate habits. An enriched habitat gives an animal diversity, choice, and control over their everyday activities. It should offer different kinds of scratching surfaces, outlets for predatory and prey behavior, secure locations, and should respect all five of your cat's senses.

Benefits of Enrichment?

  • Provides needed mental and physical stimulation 
  • Decreases stress and boredom
  • Decreases unwanted behaviors
  • Improves overall quality of life

How Do You Provide Enrichment for Your Cat?

Food Based Enrichment

By enabling cats to forage and "search" for their food, food puzzles assist to slow down eating, minimize boredom and obesity, and encourage more instinctual feeding in cats. You may buy a variety of cat toys that release food, or you can even construct your own. Start with a simple puzzle and progress to more challenging ones as your cat prefers them.

  • Lunch paper bag/paper bag: put catnip, catnip covered toy mice, or treats inside. They can explore, pounce, and kill (destroy the bag) It’s a great hiding space and a fun toy all at the same time.
  • Paper towel roll puzzle toys: cut paper towel roll in half, fold in ends and cut a few small to large holes, place in treats. As cats begin to use these more, cut smaller holes to make it more fun for the cats!
  • Water bottles puzzle toys: Take empty water bottles, remove wrapper, cut a few small to large holes, can leave lid on or off for increasing difficulty for the puzzle toys

Sensory Enrichment

Smell cues play a significant role in cat communication and exploration. Cats that experience novel smells become more energetic and adventurous. Toys with the owner's fragrance, catnip, silvervine, cat grasses, safe houseplants, and pheromones like Feliway all support exploration and play. It is possible to give sensory enrichment by dispersing a little bit of a smell in paper ball toys, boxes, bags, etc.

  • Visual: A few examples of visual enrichment include interactive , birdfeeders, cat videos on YouTube, blowing bubbles, and pinwheels. Remember, when playing these videos or letting your kitty watch birds only do so for short periods of time to avoid your cat from becoming frustrated. 
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  • Auditory: This can include reading a story to cats, playing bird and nature sounds, and playing music made specifically for cats. (Through a cat’s ear, iCalmCat).
  • Taste: Offer a variety of different flavored and textured treats
  • Touch: Many animals respond positively to things like petting and brushing. Along with the touch comes social interaction, which ensures that these social animals receive the attention they need. Make sure to identify the kind of touch the cat appreciates.

A great example of sensory enrichment that hits all their senses is placing delicious treats in a ball pit for your cats to forage around for.

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Environmental Enrichment

Provide a range of perches, hiding spots, both horizontally and vertically. Window perches, cat trees, and cat-friendly shelving are all things that cats will appreciate. Including secure hiding places is also essential since it enables the cats to flee if necessary. Paper bags, tunnels, and cardboard boxes can all be used as hiding places. Provide different kinds of scratching surfaces for cats as they also need to scratch. For them to be able to extend their bodies fully when scratching, scratching posts should be stable and at least three feet away from the ground.

Social Interactions 

Positive, regular contacts with their people are advantageous to all companion animals, including cats. Cats will be less stressed if they are given the option to engage with you rather than being coerced into doing so. It's ideal to concentrate patting on the head and cheeks if the cat seems at ease and wants to communicate. Don't pursue or pick up your cat after it walks away in order to maintain touch. A wonderful example of how to provide your cats nice, dependable, and predictable social interactions is to brush and touch them before night.

Outdoor Time

You can give your cat some safe time outdoors by building an outdoor enclosure (often called a catio) and/or walking your cat. Cats can be harness trained or can enjoy walks in a cat stroller. 

Train Your Cat

Your cat may be trained with a clicker as another kind of enrichment. Cats are smart, and is a fantastic way to challenge their minds and teach them new behaviors!

There are many benefits to clicker training your cat, it boosts your cat's confidence, encourages creativity and initiative, and helps strengthen the bond between you and your cat. 

There is a widespread belief that cats cannot be trained and that, even if they can, it will be more harder than with dogs. Both of those assertions are untrue. When cat owners think their cats can't be trained, they also think their feline friends' behavioral issues can't be fixed. Cats who are subjected to this risk death, including euthanasia and surrender.

Everything, including fundamental behaviors (targeting, attention), wholesome husbandry activities (nail trimming, grooming, and handling), and entertaining tricks, may be taught to cats (roll over, high five). Training has a great deal of power to halt and replace undesirable behaviour.

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Remember to constantly give your cats diversity and option and observe what they like in addition to the aforementioned advice. The only restriction on the sorts of enrichment you can provide your cat is your creativity, so have fun!

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