Harry and William here and we would like to talk about enrichment for cats that spend the majority of their time or all of their time indoors. While we love laying in a sunny spot on the comfy couch for the majority of our time we still need to play too! As you know not all cats are the same and our personalities can vary dramatically along with our needs. Living in a cat friendly home and having appropriate outlets will also help us to live a happy, healthy life and help us to maintain a healthy weight. Some cats get into trouble for inappropriate behavior such as scratching the furniture but to us this wasn’t a personal attack toward you, we just have the desire to scratch which is something that we would do in the wild. So now we would like to give you some great ideas to make your home cat friendly and make our lives exciting.
While dogs beg for attention and play time we may be more reserved. It is important to initiate play time daily or a few times a week with your cat. Some of us go crazy over following a laser and this provides us with great exercise. Some of us will play fetch with our owners and we would enjoy this play time and attention.
Cat scratching posts are an important thing to have available. It is important to note that some cats prefer to scratch on horizontal surfaces while others prefer to scratch vertical surfaces. So being cognizant of where we prefer to scratch (furniture vs. carpet) is important. It may be useful to have a scratching post(s) that has both a horizontal and vertical surface so that we have a choice.
Most cats love to climb and sometimes we also prefer hiding in places that are high up. Having a cat tree with various levels and places to hide is a great idea for indoor cats. It provides cats with exercise and also with a safe haven or a place to hide. Having various perches around the house can be beneficial as well.
Having a fish tank (of any size) provides a lot of entertainment for us cats. Fish tanks are like movies, they are never ending and always available. Remember fish tanks can require a lot of maintenance for the owners but if it is an option for your family then maybe investing in a tank that we can all enjoy is a great idea.
If you have ever had a cat that drinks out of the sink or gets in the shower with you, then you know that cats have a preference toward moving water. A bowl of water is not that attractive to us, but moving water is. Veterinarians recognize that commonly cats do not drink enough water which can be a negative consequence to our health. Offering a pet fountain that circulates water actively is great for us. Not only do we love to drink the moving water we also love to play in it and bath in it. This is a good option for enrichment and has health benefits too.
They make play and treat balls which are similar to puzzle toys made for our dog friends. These encourage us to think, problem solve and work at it to get the food out of the ball and can provide a lot of exercise as well. Food sitting in a bowl can be boring because in the wild we would spend time hunting and looking for our food so making it a challenge to get our meal from a Kong or puzzle toy can replicate this process and be very rewarding for us.
Cats love to spend their time looking out the window and spotting any squirrel or bird that may pass by. So an easy way to add enrichment to our lives is by placing bird feeders, houses or baths outside of windows that we frequently visit, this can provide us with hours of entertainment.
Sometimes owners forget that cats love to play with toys too. Some cats are very oral fixated and like to have harder toys to play and chew similar to a dog. Other cats prefer to have soft toys or mice to play with. Giving us a variety is very generous. Novelty is also important, therefore rotating the toys and giving us different things so we don’t get sick of the same old mouse all the time is a good idea. We like to have an assortment of things to hunt, kick and pounce. For any of you who have ever had a cat know that simply giving us a box can give us a lot of entertainment. If you turn that into a box fort that would be even more amazing! Not all cats are sensitive to cat nip but those of us who are love it. We enjoy rolling around and playing with these toys that contain cat nip.
Have you ever seen cat grass at your local pet stores? This is safe grass that is not treated with any chemicals. Cats love having cat grass available to them and will spend a lot of time visiting the grass and chewing at it. This is also a simple thing to maintain and something that some of us may really enjoy.
We are lucky it is 2013 and they make apps for us on smart phones and Ipads. If you’re pet parents have protective coverings for these devices they can provide hours of entertainment. They have mouse games, chasing butterfly games, fish ponds and birds. The majority of these apps are free and very attractive to us. If you are interested search cat games- personally we know that Purina makes cat friendly apps.
Another game that does not involve technology and is simple is to fill a container or sink with water and place ping pong balls into the water. Then we can go fishing, play in the water, bat the balls around and try to capture them.
There are endless ways to enrich our lives and help us to maintain a healthy life mentally and physically. A good thing to think about is what would we be doing if we were in the wild? Then try to replicate these activities in the household. Thanks for reading our blog we hope that we gave you some helpful advice to enrich our feline friends lives.
Harry & William
Stow Kent Animal Hospital
We encourage you to learn more, please visit: Indoor Pet Initiative http://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats/basicneeds/toys/index.cfm
OR their Facebook Page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Indoor-Cat-Initiative/119746471371455
American Association of Feline Practitioners: http://www.catvets.com/healthtopics/wellness/?Id=213