Household cats, especially those that live exclusively indoors, sometimes have little to do and may succumb to boredom. Providing for your indoor cat’s physical and emotional needs means you are creating a safe and stimulating environment.
Even if your cat doesn’t appear bored, there are still a number of reasons to provide enrichment opportunities:
- Cats who lack enrichment can be more aggressive in play, both with people and other animals in the house. Cats can become bored and depressed if they are ignored. Some develop “negative attention syndrome” and they misbehave just to get their guardians to notice them.
- Young cats without enrichment opportunities can pester their humans at inappropriate hours of the day or night. They also can act destructively towards furniture or other objects.
- Cats without enrichment can become reclusive or retreat from new people or objects.
Great Ways to Provide Enrichment:
- Provide a variety of toys for your cat. Some cats prefer toys that they can throw around themselves. Other cats prefer toys that require guardian participation, such as those you wiggle and dangle. Stimulating play for a cat involves opportunities to “hunt,” so move toys in such a way that they mimic the movements of a rodent. Introduce new toys periodically to keep your cat from becoming bored with her toys.
- Balls are also very attractive to many cats. Their movement along the floor mimics the movement of scampering mice or other prey animals, which will entice cats to chase. You can insert treats or catnip into some balls to make playing with them more rewarding and exciting for your cat. Other balls have bells or other small objects inside them that make noise to attract your cat’s attention.
- Provide objects for your cat to explore, such as cardboard boxes, paper shopping bags, packing paper and toys that encourage her to investigate various holes with her paws.
- Cats love to watch birds, squirrels and other small animals. Position bird and squirrel feeders outside windows where your cat can observe animals coming and going during the day. If you live in an apartment, you can attach bird feeders directly to the outside of your windows.
- The majority of cats in the U.S. find catnip stimulating. Adding this herb to play time can greatly increase your cat’s enjoyment! Catnip can be stuffed into toys or packed into balls. Try sprinkling it onto a fresh piece of newspaper or into a paper grocery bag or cardboard box to invite your cat to play. It’s safe for your cat to ingest catnip, especially if you choose an organically grown brand without any additives. One caution about catnip: Some cats become very excited when smelling or eating it, so be careful about petting or rubbing your cat until you know how she responds. When cats get overexcited, they can sometimes bite.
- Cats love to be able to find a high perch from which to survey their world. Offer your cat a variety of spaces high up that are appropriate and safe for her. This gives your cat a little more control over their environment and satisfies a need to climb.