Environmental Enrichment – A Necessity for Indoor Cats!
Indoor cats tend to live longer lives then cats that are allowed to roam outdoors. The many benefits of keeping your cat indoors include decreasing the risk of trauma from motor vehicles, exposure to infectious diseases and toxins, and being attacked by other aggressive animals. The likelihood of an indoor cat becoming lost is also greatly reduced.
While keeping your cat indoor is better for their safety, it is vital to enrich your cat’s environment. Creating a stimulating indoor environment is vital to your cat’s health and well-being as indoor cats tend to become bored and restless. More specifically, cats not able to engage in natural tendencies present with more behavioral problems, anxieties, illnesses, and obesity.
How to create an enriched environment
Luckily, there are many things that you can do to create an environment that gives your cat the opportunity to experience and take part in innate behaviors that are crucial to their happiness.
- Toys: There are many different types of toys available including self-play and interactive toys. Cats like to play and providing toys and the opportunity to play is essential. Spending time each day interacting with your cat is very important and most cats love to chase laser pointers or play with the fishing-pole type toys. Food-dispensing toys are a great way to get your cat to play, especially when your cat is home alone. These toys encourage your cat to pounce, hunt, and chase, while providing crucial exercise.
- Cat Trees and Perches: Cats enjoy climbing, and cat trees and perches provide a great way for them to climb safely. Placing them near windows will not only satisfy their climbing needs but will also allow your cat to see the outside world.
- Scratching posts: Cats scratch not only to sharpen their claws and remove the outer covering, but also to mark their territory. It is important to provide scratching posts so your cat has the opportunity to exercise this natural behavior in a way that doesn’t damage your property. Even declawed cats go through the act of scratching and providing them with a post is beneficial.
- Feeding: Avoid feeding your cat free-choice as this promotes obesity and doesn’t provide opportunity for predaceous behavior. Placing food in different locations throughout the house and/or using food-dispensing toys provides your cat the opportunity to search and work for food. Also, many cats prefer to drink from running water, as this is more similar to a natural water source. Providing a fountain or turning on the faucet may be pleasing to your cat.
- Visual stimulation: Placing a bird feeder or bath outside a window and/or purchasing a fish tank will provide visual stimulation and keep your cat content. There are dvds made specifically for cats. A lot of cats find these dvds fascinating and will enjoy watching them.
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