Cats are creatures of habit. They like things to be just so and can often be found napping in the same spot to catch the sun or curled up on their favourite pillow. While this predictable behaviour might be comforting for us as pet owners, it’s important to remember that our feline friends require stimulation and enrichment just like any other animal. A bored cat is a destructive cat, so environmental enrichment is key to keeping your kitty happy and healthy.
Environmental enrichment is simply anything that enhances a cat’s environment, stimulates their mind and encourages natural behaviours. This could be anything from providing vertical space to scratch and climb to hiding their food around the house, so they have to “hunt” for it. There are endless possibilities when it comes to environmental enrichment, and the options will vary depending on your individual cat’s needs and preferences.
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Types of Environmental Enrichment
Climbing/Cat Trees: One easy way to provide some environmental enrichment for your cat is to invest in some vertical space. Here are some perches you will love! Cats love to climb and scratch, so adding a floor to ceiling cat tree or some reinforced shelves for them to explore will not only give them something to do, but it will also save your furniture from being used as a scratching post! Small houses or multi-cat families can really benefit from expanding into their vertical spaces! Another way to add some vertical space is by installing a window perch where they can watch the birds or bask in the sun.
Caves/Tunnels: If your cat is the type that likes to hide away and lounge in small spaces, you can try adding a cat cave or tunnel to their environment. These provide a great place for them to curl up and relax, while still being close to the action. Cardboard boxes and paper bags are a low-cost safe option. Online you can find many examples of old furniture that’s been repurposed for the family’s cat. You can even put their food bowl inside the tunnel so they have to search for it, which simulates hunting behaviour.
Puzzle Feeders: Food puzzles are another great way to provide enrichment for your cat. Hiding their food around the house or using a puzzle feeder encourages them to use their natural hunting instincts. Your cat will love the challenge of finding their food, and you’ll love watching them engage in playful behaviour. Just be sure not change up their routine too much—cats don’t like surprises!
There are endless possibilities when it comes to providing environmental enrichment for your cat. Browse online for the vast array of enrichment activities for your feline friend! You can even make your own inexpensive toys – here are some great ideas from our friends at One Crazy House! You can help to ensure they live a long and happy life by your side. So, get creative, have fun, and most importantly—enjoy your fur baby!
If you have any questions about environmental enrichment for cats, call us, the only veterinary cat clinic in Kamloops that offers a full list of services to keep your feline friend healthy. We provide consultations, wellness exams, orthopedic surgery, soft tissue surgery, dental care, diagnostics, spaying and neutering services for cats. We love cats, and we know you do too!
Learn more about cat health here: EDUCATION