The following guest post was created by Emma Williams from We’re All About Cats.
Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives than their outdoor cousins. There’s a drawback, though. Despite our good intentions and best efforts, kitties who never venture into the great outdoors miss out on some of the things that make life interesting. By adding intriguing sights, sounds, smells, and even flavors into our cats’ daily lives, we can replace some of that natural stimulation and help our feline friends feel happier and more comfortable. Check out my top cat enrichment ideas below.
Bring the Great Outdoors Inside
When we built our home, we added a large screened-in porch, complete with hardware cloth inside the screened walls. This keeps the cats from tearing the screens while adding an element of security. We also added bird feeders, providing our kitties with an exciting view. Since we live in a rural setting, the porch is filled with the scents and sounds of nature.
Cat-safe plants add interest, and comfortable, outdoor furniture gives us the opportunity to relax alongside our pets. A cat door that leads from the main portion of the house onto the porch allows the cats to enjoy their retreat anytime.
You don’t have to build an entire catio or screen porch to give your cat enrichment. These tips will work in homes of all kinds!
Cat Enrichment Activities and Interesting Sights
Cats love to perch up high and watch things happening, so consider treating them to a tall cat tree or a comfy window seat where they can view bird feeders, squirrel feeders, and birdbaths. If this isn’t possible, consider tuning in to nature shows occasionally or setting up an animal DVD designed for cats.
Be sure to offer a variety of toys that allow your cat to engage in stalking, pouncing, and other natural behaviors. Interactive toys that let you participate put your cat’s prey drive in motion while strengthening your bond.
Environmental Enrichment for Cats: Scents and Sounds
Leaves, branches, flowers, logs, and other natural objects have fascinating scents. Bring items like these indoors frequently, and your cat will be forever grateful. We have a rain gauge holder that supports a handful of woody asters, which the cats enjoy smelling. Lemon balm and catnip are two other herbs that often find their way into this fun little arrangement.
Be sure that the plants you bring in are safe for your pet to smell and/or chew. If you have space, you might even consider growing some cat grass indoors.
As for sounds, if you live in an area where city noises drown out nature, consider downloading birdsongs and other sounds that your cat will appreciate. Just like TV for cats, these are best for occasional enjoyment.
YouTube is also a good source for music that’s composed especially for cats. You’ll be able to tell that your kitty appreciates your efforts if they appear relaxed and content, or if they seem to be paying close attention.
Touch and Related Cat Ideas
Cats are tactile creatures. Treating them to different textures can help prevent boredom while enhancing comfort. We place pet beds and blankets throughout the house in areas where the cats tend to lounge. The cats love the attention and we love knowing that they’re completely content.
Your cat will appreciate having soft blankets to nap on as well as a rugged scratching post or two to satisfy the natural urge to maintain their claws and mark their territory with the scent glands in their paws. Scratchers are essential cat enrichment ideas; the more “safe” surfaces your cat has to scratch, the less likely they are to damage your furnishings.
A clean restroom is essential for your cat’s health and happiness – and good litterbox hygiene will help prevent unpleasant issues. Try to provide a quiet, private spot and ensure that each cat has a litter box to call their own. Add an extra litter box if possible; for example, if you have two cats, set up three litter boxes. Scoop a few times per day to keep the boxes (and your home) smelling fresh.
Cat litterboxes should be large enough for your cat to move around in, and if you can, place them in different areas so that your cat has some options. If you live in a home with multiple stories, you’ll want to ensure that there is at least one litterbox on each floor.
Be sure to keep litterboxes well away from the area where you feed your cats.
Taste & Cat Feeding Tips
In the wild, cats enjoy a varied diet. While our pets might not be eating anything terribly exotic, we should treat them to some variety. Convenient dry food, a variety of wet foods, and an ever-changing lineup of tempting treats make up their menu.
Since indoor cats are prone to obesity and bags are easy for cats to rip open when they’re feeling determined, we keep treats tightly secured in an attractive metal pet food container. It’s a win-win: The cats can’t get to the treats inside and everything stays fresh.
A food puzzle is a nice alternative to hand-feeding treats, particularly if you spend most of your time away from home. You can put some of your cat’s dry food inside the puzzle, or you can add different-flavored treats to keep things interesting.
Just as we enjoy dining in pleasant surroundings, cats enjoy eating in a nice environment. When the weather is warm, we move their favorite dishes from the kitchen to the porch. They seem to appreciate their food even more when dinner time includes a nice view.
Because plastic bowls can lead to feline acne even when they’re washed frequently, many vets recommend using metal or ceramic pet dishes. These customized pet food bowls are perfect – they’re easy to wash between meals.
A placemat makes it easy to keep any spills contained while adding a cute, decorative touch that makes mealtime more fun.
Our cats enjoy eating together, but some kitties prefer to dine in solitude. Knowing your cat’s preference can help make mealtime more enjoyable. If your cats don’t play together, sleep together, or groom one another, it’s likely that they will also prefer to eat separately. If this is the case, you’ll want to put food bowls in different corners, or in different rooms altogether.
Final Thoughts on Cat Enrichment
With environmental cat enrichment ideas including exposure to nature, good food, comfortable surroundings, toys, and lots of love, your indoor cat will have fun, be less bored, and be less prone to stress while staying safe at home. And for additional ideas, make sure to visit my blogs or Shutterfly’s pet ideas.