Just like dogs, a boring environment can contribute to a plethora of problems with indoor cats: destructive behavior, inter-cat aggression, depression and anxiety. Cats that are under-stimulated are at a greater risk of developing boredom-related or stress-relieving behaviours – but there are plenty of ideas to keep your cat properly exercised and entertained! See below for some enrichment ideas:
- SAFE HAVEN
Every cat likes to have a space that is all their own. This could be a den-like crate, a carrier, an enclosed cat bed, or even a high perch they can retreat to when they need to feel safe and secure. Observe where your cat runs off to if he or she feels stressed, and provide them with a snug spot to relax.
TIP: Try leaving your cat’s carrier out at all times in the home. Make it comfortable with a blanket and some treats. This will desensitize your cat to the carrier, making vet trips easier!
- DIY PUZZLES & FORAGING TOYS
Not just for dogs! Puzzles for cats are extremely easy to make, and all you need are a few things around the house. Domestic cats still possess the hunting instincts of their ancestors and their big cat cousins, and giving them a challenge for treats is a great way to exercise their brains and agility. Boxes are generally a cat favourite, and anything from toilet paper rolls, paper cups, egg cartons, clean containers, and more are all easy ways to occupy kitties for just pennies! Check out our Pinterest page for more DIY ideas!
- WINDOW PERCH
It’s no secret that cats love to be high up. Bonus points if this includes a window from which to watch the neighbourhood birds. You can purchase window perches at local retailers or online at affordable prices. If you’re feeling crafty, you can even DIY their new favourite spot with a view!
- CAT TREE
Cat trees are basically indoor jungle gyms for cats. You can purchase various sizes and heights at your local pet store, or you can DIY your very own using some basic supplies on a budget that fits your needs. Ladders, crates, bookcases, and shelves all make great tools for this DIY project! Ensure that their new climbing post includes a spot or two for your cat to scratch (and help save your furniture). If you’re running short on floor space, take to the walls with this DIY option!
Catios have become increasingly popular in recent years for letting cats spend time outdoors in a safely contained area. There are four general types of catios, and endless DIY tutorials online whether you are on a budget or looking to splurge. The window box lets your cat have a lounging area with a view of the outdoors. Make it comfortable with a padded cushion or a small pot of cat grass to nibble on! The haven, the sanctuary, and the oasis all have multiple levels for your cat to climb. Larger catios can include an outdoor lounge chair for the human to enjoy too! Level up your catio with a tunnel to the house. Check out the ASPCA’s list of plants that are toxic and non-toxic to kitties.
- HARNESS AND LEASH WALKS
If you have a furry Houdini on your hands with a taste for the great outdoors, leashed walks are a great way to get out and explore. Your kitty stays secure under your supervision, and gets to walk on the wild side without the hazards of outdoor life. Training them isn’t as difficult as it sounds! Before getting out for your neighbourhood walk, please speak with your veterinarian about keeping your cat up to date with regular vaccinations and parasite control.
- ID, PLEASE
Even if your cat isn’t getting out on walks, identification is important! All it takes is one open window and an opportunistic kitty to take the leap. Place a breakaway collar with an ID tag- include your phone number- on your cat. For permanent identification, have your cat microchipped by your vet. Should kitty get out and get lost, microchips can be scanned at any vet clinic or animal shelter, and are the fastest way to ensure your lost kitty is returned to you safely.
- CHANGE IT UP
Most cats dislike major changes, but something simple like rearranging the furniture can help pique their interest. This helps especially if you also move cat trees/condos, or window perches around, giving them new views to observe and explore!