If you’re a cat owner, you’re most likely already familiar with the classic ways to enrich your cat’s life- catnip, wand toys, look out spots and perches by windows, etc. Enrichment “incorporates a combination of sensory, physical, environmental, cognitive and social activities.” (Ontario SPCA) While cats are notorious for liking the cardboard box more than the toy inside, we thought we’d still take the time to share 10 of the more unique ways to bring a bit of entertainment into your cat’s life…and one of them DOES include a cardboard box! Interested in what you see? Click on the image to take you to the product or search on your own.
1. Lick mat
Lick mats have been gaining attention over the past couple of years thanks to social media platforms. This silicone mat designed with varying textures has multiple benefits. In addition to providing sensory stimulation and reducing anxiety (did you know that licking can ease anxiety in cats?), it can also help slow down those speedy eaters! There are various styles and companies who make this, and each mat is designed to different needs. This is an easy and fun way to switch up mealtime! Click here to check out the mat below.
Photo: Haus Panther
2. Foraging treat toys
Even though they nap for around 16 hours per day, cats still have a natural instinct to hunt prey. Foraging toys are wonderful mental stimulation-especially for those food driven cats! This toy, which is called “Doc & Phoebe's Cat Co. The Hunting Snacker Interactive Cat Treat Toy” and was found on chewy.com, “is the purr-fect way to stimulate your little hunter’s natural instincts! Just fill it with a treat, hide it, and watch your feline hunt it down. In addition to satisfying your pet’s love for catching and playing with prey, the toy will also get your cat to exercise while they search for their treat. To top it off, the toy is fitted with an adjustable slide, so you can make the treats harder or easier to get out.” (Chewy.com)
3. Cat stroller
If you’re looking for a way to safely get your cat out into the world and raise the eyebrows of neighbors when they look into your stroller…look no further! In all seriousness, a stroller is a great way to have outdoor enrichment time, while also keeping them contained and safe. This is also a wonderful idea for cats who may have mobility issues. Of course, not all cats like to travel, so use your best judgment to see if this is a right option for them! Here’s a list of “18 Cat Strollers To Bring Your Cat On All Your Adventures” by Daily Paws.
Photo: Daily Paws
4. Catnip infused bubbles
Bubbles that smell like catnip? How intriguing! Since many cats don’t normally see bubbles (unless they live in a child friendly environment) this new sensory experience will have them curious and engaged! Combine this with catnip and it’s sure to get a little crazy! You can find catnip infused bubbles at many pet stores, or of course, online. While you’re at it, be sure to check out the other catnip infused items. They even have paper bags!
5. Cat “whack-a-mole”
This is a game that many cats simply cannot resist. We encourage you to try it out! You can buy your own by simply searching “cat whack-a-mole” OR you can even make your own! Not only is this a simple and inexpensive way to add a fun game into your routine, but it also encourages them to stay mentally and physically stimulated.
6. Cat grass
If you want to bring the outdoors inside, consider getting safe to eat cat grass! You can either grow your own by purchasing seeds online, or check out your local pet store.
7. Music, sounds, or even a specialized video!
Auditory stimulation falls under sensory enrichment; this means that those sounds of nature and birds can entertain your cat just as a good podcast entertains us! Consider making a video of yourself to play for your cats- listening to their favorite humans talking while you're out, or just in another room is interesting! Speaking of listening, did you know there are even entire albums with music that is made specifically for cats? The instruments are played in a way that mimics purring, and brings a sense of comfort. “David Teie, a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra, recently teamed up with animal scientists to develop “Music for Cats,” a series of whirring, lilting and at times squeaky musical tracks designed for cats’ brains and ears.” You can read more about David, and see where to find his music by visiting: musicforcats.com
8. Obstacle course or blanket fort
Yep. You read that right. Obstacle courses and blanket forts aren’t just for sleepovers anymore, they’re for curious kittens. Take those extra cardboard boxes you have lying around, this is your opportunity to have fun and get creative. After you’re done setting up, grab a wand or their favorite toy and encourage exploration! Guide them to jump in the box, run around, or you could even grab some treats and hide them. Some individuals even create wall mounted furniture and walking platforms to give their cats even more fun- read more about the image below by clicking here.
Photo by Stefan Hofmann via The Animal Health Foundation
9. Floppy fish
Motorized toys can be a fun way to get your cat up, moving, and pouncing! Another trend in the cat community was this electric flopping fish, which is not only true to the size of a real fish, but mimics the movements.
10. Exercise wheel
Yes, you read it right. Even cats can have exercise wheels! Does your feline friend get the zoomies at 3am? Perhaps they just have the need for speed? A large exercise wheel may be the perfect enrichment for your cat! Marybeth Rymer, DVM, at VCA Monte Vista Animal Hospital suggests that "benefits include weight loss, leading to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart, and respiratory disease; improved muscle tone, muscle mass, and joint flexibility, all of which aid in arthritis management; increased confidence and mental stimulation; and reduced depression, anxiety, and behavioral issues.” (Fear Free Happy Homes) Exercise wheels may not fit everyone’s budget as they run a bit higher in price. Though, if you have an active cat who loves to run, it may be worth the investment!
Photo: One Fast Cat
So, why is it important to incorporate enrichment into your cat’s life? Isn’t it only for dogs? The ASPCA states “Without opportunities to express their predatory nature, indoor cats can get bored and frustrated. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and compulsive or unwanted behaviors, such as:
Going outside the litter box
Scratching at carpets or furniture
Pacing or spinning
Cats also need mental stimulation to help prevent boredom and cognitive decline as they get older. Luckily, there are lots of ways you can enrich your cat's environment and help avoid these issues.” (ASPCA)
If you plan on trying one of these ideas out, please tag us on social media and let us know how it went! And while you’re at it, go ahead and give us a follow! We’ll be sharing more enrichment ideas for all species, plus other useful resources and information.
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