Are you thinking these things don’t go together?? They actually can, and will likely make your cat more content and even a better companion for your family. If you think about the typical housecat in Lakeville they do two things all day (and night): eat and sleep. It’s a rough life….. Cats are really geared for more than this and, for many cats, they need appropriate ways to stimulate their instincts. All cats have an instinctual prey drive and were born to use their brains to hunt and keep themselves away from stress and danger.
Common indoor cat problems include: being overweight, aggression/inappropriate play, inappropriate urination and inter-cat social disturbances. Environmental enrichment can be the key to combat or prevent these common issues. Here are a few ideas to aid your cat in finding their inner warrior and zen master:
- Each cat needs their own space and resources. This includes a perch (usually up high), their own litter box, food and water dishes, etc. These are all resources they shouldn’t need to share or fight for. Their “lounge space” should be just that – they shouldn’t be disturbed or expected to interact with anyone or anything when they are hanging out here.
- Mental Stimulation (“Brain Teasers”). Cats are smart, they need to exercise their brains. There are so many fun toys to keep them engaged, thinking and learning. Puzzle treat toys, meal dispensing toys, toys that are made to be hidden with food, laser pointers – the list is endless! There are even apps for cats to play on devices, TV programs for them to watch and, if you like things low-tech, having a spot where they can watch the birds out the window works great, too. Many of these will engage their brains and exercise their bodies along with the added benefit of making them hunt/work for their food.
- Play Time. We all need a little play time every day…… cats, too! Many of the options listed above can double as play time – laser pointers, little mouse toys, feathers on sticks, etc. are all great options to engage your cat with play. Some cats even love running up and down the stairs. 15-30 minutes of play time per day will help with weight loss, overall contentment as well as bonding with the family. Appropriate play also decreases inappropriate behaviors like biting at pant legs.
If your cat isn’t used to any of these things it may take some time to figure out which toys or activities are best suited to them. Give the process some time and attention, your cat will thank you.