As cat parents, our goal is to give our pets the best life possible. Though many cats exude an independent personality, it is still our duty to provide them with everything they might need. Every cat is different; their needs might not look the same. As you continue to get to know your cat, you’ll learn what their habits are and what they might benefit from more of.
Cat enrichment is all about providing our pets with different opportunities to exercise their mind and body. Cats can and do get bored — maybe they show it by wanting to lay out in the sun or they get into some trouble.
There are plenty of activities that you can do with your cat to enrich and improve their livelihoods. Keep reading to learn more about them.
What Does Enrichment Do for Your Cat?
Enrichment helps to satisfy your cat’s natural instincts. The ideal cat’s environment is much more than picking out the best litter box or healthiest cat food. While those are naturally essential, a few different types of enrichment are necessary to ensure your cat’s life is as fulfilling as possible.
Different feline enrichment activities target a cat’s natural behaviors, including hunting, exploring, snacking, climbing, and solving puzzle toys. Some activities are as easy as grooming your cat: They’ll feel and look better and get to spend quality time with their human.
Benefits of including enrichment activities in your cat’s life include improved emotional well-being, cognitive functioning, and physical health.
Once you find something your cat likes, think of different variations of it so that they don’t become bored again as they master the task or game. Don’t forget: Cats are smart! They might need a variety of enrichment activities to stay content.
Enrichment Ideas for Cats
You know your cat best — from their favorite toy to their go-to hiding place — you likely know where your cat needs a bit of a boost. (And if you’re not sure, reach out to ask a professional Pet Coach!)
If your cat isn’t burning up enough physical energy in a day, that calls for extra physical activities. If they need more mental stimulation and are looking for a challenge, consider focusing on puzzles and training.
The possibilities are endless, especially when many enrichment activities can be DIY’d. Have fun with it, and don’t forget to get creative!
Plenty of cats can get bored with their food routine and want to spice it up. Introducing new ways to make breakfast and dinner a challenge can motivate your cat and help them to use their brain to solve the problem.
How To Make DIY Enrichment Toys for Cats
Place kibble into a paper towel roll that’s been cut up randomly on the side (smaller cats or kittens might have an easier time with a toilet paper roll). Fold in the top and bottom to make it into a tube. The allotted kibble can be an entire meal or part of one. This food puzzle is part mealtime, part exercise, and 100% adorable.
Consider leaving a few cat treats around your house for your cat to find throughout the day. This can help to satisfy a cat’s scavenger and hunting instincts.
Cats love to explore, but it’s not always safe to let them alone outside. Let’s discuss how to bring your cat’s inner lion out.
Introduce your cat to the great outdoors (safely) by training them to walk on a leash. Cat leash training can take a long time and isn’t for every feline.
So, if your cat isn’t inclined to strut on a leash, there are other methods to try. Your feline friend might prefer cat backpacks or cat strollers. Not only can your cat see the world, but just think of all the social enrichment that comes from taking your cat in a stroller to the farmer’s market.
Bring the outdoors in with “catios.” A catio is an outdoor enclosed space for cats that lets them enjoy fresh air without any dangers to themselves (or the natural environment). Fill the catio with scratchers, tunnels, and cat beds, and watch your cat live their best life.
If your cat struggles to find a sunny and clear spot to watch out the window, consider getting a window perch to place on one with a good view. Cats love watching (and probably judging) the world go by. Bring the entertainment value up a notch by hanging a bird feeder, which is basically a TV show for cats!
While we mostly associate dogs with training, cats have the ability to learn as well (and quite quickly). Practicing basic training routines with your cat allows them to use a part of their brain that they might typically shut off.
Cats are known to be independent and selective listeners, but training creates a positive atmosphere for listening and learning. Your cat does want to impress you, and working on training cues is an excellent way for them to do this.
Training with treats fosters a sense of community between you and your cat. They do what you want them to, and they get a little treat, some praise, and your undivided attention out of it. It also will burn up some of their energy as they focus on the task at hand. In fact, some experts suggest clicker training for cats (similar to how you would do it with a dog!).
Cat Toys and Cat Furniture
Cats love to play. Playing is one of the easiest ways to get some energy out of your cat, but they can become bored if they are using the same toys each day.
Some great toys to have around the house are ones that involve you in them, like wand toys that engage their instinct to pounce. Your cat loves when you get involved and will be more likely to play for longer if you’re also enjoying yourself.
Some cats want to burn their energy by exploring, but to do so safely in the house, keep plenty of cat furniture pieces scattered around. Cat trees, scratching posts, and perches will allow your cat to feel like the king of the jungle and have them on alert as they survey their space.
Enrichment games don’t need to be expensive. Many cats simply need cardboard boxes or paper bags (maybe with a bit of catnip in there) to have a good time, so don’t feel bad about all those packages you want to order! Your cat can get some enrichment out of those daily deliveries.
Get More Ideas With AskVet
Your cat will thank you for finding new ways to keep them enriched and happy. Not only will this help build your relationship with your cat, but it will make them healthier and more content. When you start to run out of ideas, consider asking the Certified Pet Coaches of AskVet for ideas. Not only can they come up with enrichment activities, but they can help you to pinpoint what your cat’s boredom means and how to fix it.
Sign-up today for a virtual session with a Pet Coach to discuss your cat’s behaviors and needs in more detail.
Environmental Enrichment for Indoor Cats | NCBI
Feeding Cats for Optimal Mental and Behavioral Well-Being | NCBI
Indoor And Outdoor Management For Cats: Inferences About The Welfare And Cat-Caretaker Relationship | Science Direct
Environmental Enrichment: Practical Strategies for Improving Feline Welfare | Sage Journals
Cats rival dogs on many tests of social smarts. But is anyone brave enough to study them? | Science
Why you should build a catio for your cat | BC SPCA
Assessment of Clicker Training for Shelter Cats | PMC