Let’s talk about one of the key ways we can keep our indoor cats happy and healthy: environmental enrichment! While indoor kitties are safe from life-threatening dangers such as wild animals, vehicles and certain illnesses, without proper stimulation, they can quickly become bored, frustrated and depressed. Environmental enrichment is providing your cat with abundant opportunities to express normal hunting behaviours and create positive experiences for themselves within their living space. Lack of stimulating activities can lead to all kinds of unwanted behaviours, from furniture-scratching and excessive meowing to pooping outside the litter box.
Fortunately, keeping your indoor cat entertained is easy, affordable, and often fun for you too! Here are some of our top tips for offering your cat enriching experiences at home.
Sufficient water bowls and litter boxes
Pioneer Pet stainless steel water fountain, $44.99 USD, Petsmart
Cats are creatures of habit who appreciate routine, and this includes being able to find their essential resources in convenient, predictable places. When there are too many changes to their environment or there aren’t enough water bowls and litter boxes for their liking, it can lead to stress and behavioural problems, such as peeing on your bed or the laundry instead of in the litter box. A good rule of paw is to have at least one clean, easily accessible, and well-ventilated litter box per cat, plus one extra.
In addition to having ample litter boxes, it’s important to offer your cat multiple sources of fresh water within their living space. It’s no secret that many cats are drawn to moving water, which explains why they tend to dip their paws in your water glass or sneak a drink from the kitchen tap! A drinking fountain is a purrfect solution for kitties who refuse to drink from their water bowls. Not only does it keep them well-hydrated, but the trickling sounds of running water can also provide enriching entertainment.
51” pine wood cat tree, $219 USD, Agile Designs
Cats need a variety of elevated spots to jump, climb, and comfortably survey their surroundings. You can support these natural instincts by providing them with multiple vantage points around the house, such as cat towers, window hammocks, and cat-friendly floating shelves. These vertical spaces will give your cat plenty of opportunities for exercise and satisfy their natural desire to explore and observe their environment with a sense of security. If you have multiple pets, it’s even more important to offer them multiple elevated perches, as doing so will protect them from any surprise ambushes from their siblings!
PIXI treat dispenser, $8.99 USD, Catit
Even indoor cats can get a taste of hunting with foraging toys like treat dispensers and snuffle mats. These interactive toys create a stimulating challenge with a fulfilling reward, much like the thrill of catching prey. You can even hide bits of kibble around the house to satisfy kitty’s scavenging instinct.
Ample scratching posts and mats
Polka dot cat scratcher, $14.99 USD, Petsmart
Did you know that many cat parents don’t have enough scratching surfaces around their home? Offering your cat various scratchers, loungers and cat towers allows them to express emotions and mark their territory in a healthy way, while saving your furniture! If you don’t have room for multiple scratching posts, scratch mats that wrap around furniture legs or wall-mounted scratchers are great alternatives for smaller spaces.
Cat scratchers are available in a variety of materials like sisal, carpet, lumbar and cardboard, and options for either horizontal or vertical scratching. It may take some trial and error to figure out which types of scratchers your cat likes the best.
Cardboard boxes and paper bags
Andrew Cornell, Unsplash
Can you think of a greater love story than the one between cats and boxes? We’ve never met a cat who could resist a good cardboard box or paper bag!
Giving your cat a box or paper bag to play with is a free way to offer them environmental enrichment. Cats love the security of being in a snug space, and the crinkly sound of a paper bag in particular adds to its appeal. To keep kitty safe from potential choking or suffocation, steer clear of giving them plastic bags and make sure to remove any handles from paper bags.
Grass planter, $15.99 USD, Catit
Although cats are carnivores, they can benefit from the nutrients found in grass, which can even aid digestion and elimination. Indoor cats can get these health benefits from cat grass, which is a type of grass grown specifically for kitties. Cat grass isn’t just satisfying for your cat to rub against and nibble on; it can also distract them from house plants that you’d rather they stay away from.
Be careful to keep toxic plants out of kitty’s reach, as they may not be able to differentiate between the cat-safe grass and poisonous plants. To determine which plants are toxic or non-toxic for pets, you can refer to this list by the ASPCA.
Tatiana Rodriguez, Unsplash
Of course, cats love a good window perch! Placing a cat tower or hammock right in front of a window gives them the ultimate front row seat to the outside world, allowing them to observe wildlife and people at a safe distance.
If you want to keep your cats happy and active, make sure to provide them with a variety of exciting toys with features like crinkle, feathers, catnip, silvervine, and wands. Cat toys offer more than just entertainment—they provide mental stimulation by engaging all of their senses. Check out this blog post to learn more about sensory enrichment for cats!
meowbox conveniently ships fun themed toys and tasty treats to your door every month, or bi-monthly. Get your first box of ameowzing goodies here!