5 easy enrichment ideas for indoor cats.
The main purpose of enrichment for indoor cats is to get them to use their senses like they might in the wild. Our cats can be pampered fur balls with strong opinions about cat food and snoozing spots but they still have many of the instincts they would have relied upon in the wild.
So, when thinking of ways to entertain them in the home, it’s important to provide a variety of sensory activities. Here are some of our simple suggestions.
1. Puzzle feeders
In the wild, cats hunt for their dinner, and some indoor kitties enjoy a challenge at teatime too. You can buy fun puzzle feeders, or lick mats which make it a little harder for cats to reach their kibble. Some cats with sensitive whiskers also prefer to use a lick mat to avoid the sensation of their whiskers touching the sides of a food bowl.
Or for a simple DIY option, simply drop their biscuits into the compartments of an old egg box and let them hunt them out.
Not every cat enjoys this type of enrichment, however. We find that some of the cats in our care will just refuse to eat if given their food this way, while others love it, so we recommend experimenting with DIY options before buying any new toys.
2. Eye-spy or hide and seek?
One of the easiest ways to add environmental enrichment to your indoor kitty’s life is to provide cosy hiding spots and tall vantage points for them to explore.
Cats love to climb and perch in tall spots to survey the room, they especially love to watch passing birds and people out the window. If you have a cat tree, we recommend placing it somewhere where they have plenty to look at.
Alternatively, you can make tall windowsills more accessible for them by placing tables or chairs nearby that they can use as stepping-stones. Or invest in a cat bed that sticks to the window to help them cosy up with a view.
Cats also like to have small, secluded spots to hide away in when they feel like it. A simple and cheap way to provide this is by filling a cardboard box with their favourite blanket and covering it with a t-shirt so that the neck opening makes a door.
If you’re feeling fancy, there are lots of fluffy covered cat beds available for the more pampered felines among us.
3. DIY Toys
Cat toys don’t need to break the bank. How many times have you bought a fun, new toy for your kitty only for them to be more interested in the box anyway?
Why not make an easy DIY toy by folding in the ends, cutting a hole in the middle of an empty toilet tube and dropping in a few treats? They will fall out as your cat plays and keep them entertained.
4. Spa day
While some cats are more playful, others prefer snuggles and would love to bond with you through regular brushing and grooming.
Use a standard bristle brush, or a wide-toothed comb for long-haired cats, and brush gently in the direction of their fur. Do this often, at least once a week, for short periods and stop immediately if you notice your cat swishing their tail, hissing or becoming agitated.
5. Crazy for catnip
Catnip, or Nepeta Cataria as it’s more formally known, is famously a feline favourite. The plant contains an essential oil which cats are drawn to. For some cats, ingesting catnip makes them hyperactive and excited, and in others, it makes them calm and sleepy.
Catnip is safe to give to cats in moderation, it can cause dizziness and an upset tummy if they eat too much of it, but most cats will step away once they’ve had enough, so you usually don’t have to worry too much.
You can give your cat fresh catnip leaves, or there is a range of dried catnip toys to keep your kitty entertained. Our cats particularly enjoy a wall-mounted catnip ball to rub against. Soft toys filled with catnip are another common favourite.
Enrichment for indoor cats doesn’t need to break the bank
When it comes to creating enrichment activities for your cat, you don’t need to spend a fortune. Simply try to think of ways to stimulate each of their senses and get creative!
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