While indoor cats are often thought of as independent pets, they still love to be entertained and interact with their owners. That kind of enrichment for cats can benefit the health and mental well-being of your furry friend.
Cat enrichment, whether it be through food rotation, interactive toys, or even something as simple as moving the location of their bed, may help reduce troublesome behavior, and help keep your kitty feeling happy and content.
So, why is it important to make environmental changes for cat enrichment?
Cat Enrichment Can Help Reduce Destructive Behavior
Both cats and kittens lacking enrichment can exhibit destructive behavior, often as a result of boredom. Without engaging activities, such as interactive toys or mental stimulation, your beloved pet may become reclusive or aggressive.1
This type of behavior is, obviously, not a good thing — for you, or for your cat. So it’s important for pet owners to switch up their cat’s environment to keep them stimulated.
The Importance Of Environmental Stimulation For Your Cat
By making small changes to your pet’s environment, you are promoting:
- Physical health through exercise and activities
- Mental health through proper stimulation
There are many easy ways to change your cat’s environment. The easiest way to do this? Get a few new cat toys and set aside some extra time to play with them. Since indoor cats are confined to the space of a home, it’s important to help them remain active with regular play.
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It’s no secret that your cat loves treats and food. So, things like puzzle toys and treat dispensers can definitely grab your cat’s attention. These food toys can help stimulate your cat’s innate need to find prey, and provide mental stimulation.
Litter Boxes And Cat Beds: Simple Changes To Improve Your Cat’s Life
Litter boxes are also an instrumental part of your cat’s life. If your cat seems less interested in their litter box, or isn’t using it at all, consider moving it to a different part of the house or using a different type of litter. They may want their box in a less busy area of your home. Of course, if this problem persists, you may want to consider asking your vet’s opinion.
(Keep in mind, it’s a good idea to have the same number of litter boxes as you have cats, plus one — that way, your cats can do their business in peace, and have options for where they want to do their business.)
Cat beds are another important consideration. For instance, adding another bed to their space could catch their interest, and help encourage your cat to explore, stay active, and get a new vantage point to observe their environment.
More Changes For Your Cat’s Environment: Scratching Posts, Interactive Toys, And Enrichment Activities
Scratching Is Normal — Encourage it (The Right Way)
Even if your cat may not seem bored, they might be — and boredom can lead to destructive behavior. This is why it’s important to provide enrichment toys and activities to help wear their energy out in a positive way.
Now, scratching is normal behavior for cats. The use of scratching posts and other cat scratchers can help satisfy a cat’s urge to scratch (and protect your furniture from destructive kitty claws.) Use cat grass or fresh catnip to lure your cat toward the cat scratcher to get them interested, and then, they can start getting some regular exercise and stimulation.1
Make Cat Playtime Interactive In An Easy And Cost-Effective Way
Setting up cat enrichment activities in your home might be easier than you think. For instance, the use of interactive toys can encourage positive behavior — and you can make many of these yourself. DIY cat toys made from paper bags or toilet paper rolls can help entertain your cat if you’re on a budget.
In addition, squirrel feeders and bird feeders by a window attract small animals, which cats love to observe.
Watching these animals can provide hours of entertainment for them.6 Why not give them even more to enjoy?
Excessive Destructive Behavior: Know When To See Your Cat’s Veterinarian
Of course, if destructive behavior persists, it could be a sign of a bigger problem. So, it’s important to know when to bring your furry friend in for an exam. Keep an eye out for these destructive behaviors:
- Your cat is avoiding food and water, but ingesting non-food items.
- Your cat is scratching up furniture, carpets, plants, or other household items, despite an enriching environment.
- Your cat is destroying things when humans are/aren’t present.
- Your cat is overgrooming.2
These are just some examples of destructive behavior, and noticing these signs of trouble is a step in the right direction. If you’ve taken steps to help enrich your cat’s environment, and your furry friend is still wreaking havoc in your home, it may be time to seek professional help.
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1. Herron, M. E., & Buffington, C. A. (2010). Environmental enrichment for indoor cats. Compendium (Yardley, PA), 32(12), E4.
2. Landsberg GM, Hunthausen W, Ackerman L. Feline destructive behaviors. Handbook of Behavior Problems of the Dog and Cat. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier; 2003. pp. 341–347