cat enrichment ideas

9 Cat Enrichment Ideas to Keep Your Cat Happy

Most of the time, keeping your cat indoors is a safer choice that lowers the risk of injuries related to the outdoor environment and the risk of contracting parasites and infectious diseases such as feline leukemia or immunodeficiency virus. The outside world, inhabited by speeding cars, trucks, trains, unpredictable humans, dogs and other predators, can be a very unforgiving place for a cat.

Indoors, however, you can easily take care of everything a cat needs for a normal life, such as shelter, food, water and a litter box. But have you thought about your cat’s need to play, socialize, hunt, explore and even hide from everyone?

How much enrichment does a cat need?

Beyond the calls of biology, cats have their own behavioral needs that need to be paid attention in their daily routine, or at least provided for in their environment. Otherwise, they can lead pretty boring or frustrated lives, which may then cause destructive behavior and a myriad of stress-related health issues. Cats can benefit from at least 20 minutes of playing a day, either with their owner or their toys. This way a cat fulfills their natural hunting cycle.

How do you enrich an indoor cat?

There are so many ways to enhance the life of your indoor cat. By providing a variety of physically and mentally stimulating activities and items, you can help your cat retain her spark and curiosity well into adult age and keep boredom and sickness at bay. While it may take a little time and effort to discover what your feline friend particularly enjoys, your commitment will certainly pay off.

Here are some ideas to help you enrich your cat’s indoor life!

9 Cat Enrichment Ideas to Keep Your Cat Happy

Cat furniture

If you haven’t already, provide your cat some special furniture for climbing, scratching, romping and napping. As both predator and prey species, your cat needs feline-friendly spaces where they can feel safe as they observe their territory. Cat shelves can be hung on your wall, while climbing towers and scratching posts can be placed in corners.

There is a wide variety of ready-made cat trees and similar furniture on the market today, but you don’t even have to buy special items for this purpose – most cats will be thrilled with just a bunch of cardboard boxes and paper bags to explore and play in. And if you are a DIY fan, you can easily find online instructions for making your own unique cat furniture. In addition, if your cat likes to drink running water from the faucet, she will be overjoyed to get a drinking fountain of her own.

Cat pheromone

A cat pheromone is a chemical molecule used by cats for communication. Much like human pheromones, cat pheromones are produced and detected specifically by their body systems and meant to evoke certain behavioral responses. Nowadays you can find artificial pheromone formulas that closely mimic a cat’s natural facial pheromones to signal a safe, familiar territory.

This can reduce stress-related behavior in cats such as urine marking and scratching, usually triggered by life changes like a new environment, rearranged furniture or new family members. To help your cat feel safe and secure, you can lightly spray cat pheromone on your cat’s bed and furniture. You can also opt for brands that come in a collar. 

Catnip

Whether you need to keep a bored cat from clawing your furniture, help your cat adjust to a new bed or simply provide her with new experiences, catnip is your new best friend. Catnip’s leaves, stems and seeds are rich with oils that are irresistible to felines of all shapes and sizes, and only a couple of sniffs are enough for causing kitty bliss.

You can sprinkle some of it on the areas that you want to make more attractive to your feline, grow it yourself and give it fresh to your cat, or even create catnip-filled toys. For example, you can put a big pinch of catnip in a paper bag and crush it into a tight ball – your cat should go crazy for it.

Wheatgrass

In case you haven’t noticed, cats love to nibble on wheatgrass. Packed with chlorophyll, carotene, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, wheatgrass is actually a healthy dietary addition for most cats that aids their digestion and provides support for the healthy development of blood and muscle tissue.

And the best part is that you can grow it yourself – all you need is a bunch of wheat seeds, some potting soil and a planting tray. Besides being a fun meal for felines, wheatgrass is believed to strengthen the immune and nervous systems and prevent heart disease. 

Feline window perch

A window cat perch is not only great for providing your cat with the perfect spot to sunbathe and chill, but it can offer immense visual enrichment. Combine it with a bird feeder outside the window, and your cat may become glued to the spot. A clear view of nature and its critters will fascinate your cat endlessly and introduce much needed external stimulation into her day.

This idea is also great for senior cats with impaired mobility who can’t climb a cat tree on their own. Just make sure you don’t leave the window open!

Finally, a great portion of your cat’s life is comprised of her interaction with you, and there’s plenty of activities that will allow you to spend quality time together. Here are some suggestions.

Walk your cat

You can teach your cat to walk on lead wearing a harness made especially for cats, which can be found at most pet stores. When selecting a harness, you should strive for a balance between stretch and security – it should have enough stretch to allow the cat to move freely, but not too much stretch to allow her to wiggle right out.

Before going out for the first time, it’s advisable to train your cat to be relaxed around the new accessories. In addition, you should make sure your cat has received all vaccinations necessary for a safe trip in the great outdoors. If your cat is not a fan of walking on a lead, you can also try cat backpacks and strollers. 

Interacting with your cat

The only way to find out what your cat likes and dislikes is by spending time interacting with her. You can learn how she likes to be petted, whether she enjoys being carried around, hugged or being gently combed.

You can also keep some cats entertained by reading aloud or singing to them. They appreciate the attention, and can enjoy the pattern of the song and the tone of voice. Even if most words are gibberish to them, you can insert their names into the tune to make them know you are speaking to them.

Food foraging

In the wild, cats spend most of their days searching for food, so it’s no wonder they come equipped with such a strong foraging urge. To engage this instinct, you can scatter little bowls of food in hiding spots all around the house, and then let your cat do its job.

This natural activity will give her something interesting and rewarding to do. Another great solution is to put some of the cat’s daily food ration in a puzzle feeder or feeder toy, which the cat has to manipulate correctly in order to gain access to the food.

Adopt a second cat

If you have only one cat but plenty of room for more, consider adopting a second feline to give your cat someone to play around with when you’re away. If your cat is an adult and is established within your home as the only cat, you should thread carefully when introducing a new feline. The process may take days and weeks, but gradual introduction is the best. Given time and care, your new cat duo are likely to become inseparable.

There are many more fun ways to enrich an indoor cat’s life, but this is great place to start. Find out what your cat enjoys, and let her have it in a safe and adequate way. Their joy is guaranteed to put a smile on your face as well!

Leave a Reply