Enriching your cat's indoor life
The quality of your cat’s life when it’s indoors (this information is especially important if your cat is spending a lot of time indoors) will depend on the degree to which you allow it the opportunity to engage in its natural behaviour. Cats with too little, or actually just the wrong things to do, can develop behaviour problems which include:
- Fur pulling
- Just being more destructive than normal
So, if during unsettled times of increased isolation and social distancing especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, your cat is showing increased signs of the above behaviours, here are a few suggestions on how to enrich their indoor environment.
1. Play with your cat
Given the average cat likes to work off their predatory instincts in play, and that you might have a bit more time on your hands right now, why not just play with your cat more? Cats prefer games with humans to playing on their own (although Kiwi wasn’t a fan of the jigsaw) and cats that are played with, are much less likely to have behaviour problems. Also, cats might even prefer you played with them than cuddled them. We’re not saying don’t cuddle them, but if that’s all you do then why not mix it up a bit? Give it a try & let us know how you get on.
Why not share your cat enrichment experiences on our Facebook page?
2. Get scratching posts
Did you know that one scratching post might not be enough? It’s a good idea to put a few about the house. Mix rope covered posts with cardboard ones and make at least one high enough for your cat to scratch at full height.
Encourage initial use by spraying them with catnip. Here’s Florence enjoying her tower of superior scratchiness!
3. Make food fun
Make your moggie work for their food and encourage natural behaviour by offering food little, often, and in different locations. You can hygienically leave dry food out, but if your cat has wet food, simply try feeding it to them in different places, or place the wet food in the compartments of an ice cube tray (minus the ice). Pippin is testing his brainpower to work out his puzzle feeder; another exciting feeding tool.
Don’t forget to make sure your cat has a good supply of clean water at all times when indoors.
4. Facilitate window watching
Cats generally love sitting in window sills (especially warm ones) and watching the world go by. This is an especially good idea if you live in a relatively small space but with lots going on outside. O’Malley prefers a really big window so he can watch over all of his ‘kingdom’ with his Dad!
This is a great way to just ‘be still’ with your cat doing something they enjoy, which can be good for both of you.
5. Go high & hide
Cats, like Sophie here, love looking down on, or out at us (their prey) from safe, and often high places. So, create resting areas at various heights around your house. Make access (and exiting) easier by avoiding shiny surfaces and drops much over 1 metre. Cats also like to hide, particularly at times when they are faced with a house full of people 24/7. So, if they don’t already have a refuge, why not pop a few cardboard boxes with holes cut out of them around the place?
6. Introduce a variety of toys
You can introduce more variety by making or buying toys. Toys needn’t be an expensive option, and if you change them regularly, you’ll keep your cat properly pleased. You can try:
- Scrunched up paper balls
- The inside of old loo rolls
- Used wine bottle corks on a bit of string (Elsa’s favourite)
- Ping pong balls
- Hang up pieces of old rope
- Make some stuffed mice filled with catnip.
Whatever you provide, make sure it’s safe and swap the toys regularly to maintain interest.
So there we go, our COVID-19 guide to keeping your cat engaged and enriched at home. We’d love to hear how you get on and any top tips that you have found work well so, as we said above, please do…
Share your cat enrichment experience on our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/WildboreVetstop
If you have any questions or concerns about your cat’s health, you can give our friendly team a call on 01909 472059 throughout the current situation.
Read our advice:
You might also like to read our factsheet on cat behaviour: Understanding your cat’s behaviour