Environmental enrichment for cats can assist in the deterrence and control of behavioural problems. These problems may include urinating and defecating outside of the litter box, anxiety/stress, aggression/timidness and compulsive behaviours such as over grooming and scratching.
Ensuring that our feline friends have an enriched environment encourages increased activity and decreased boredom. All cats need mental stimulation, but this is especially important for all indoor cats. An enriched environment also allows for cats to create their own positive experiences and interactions in a restricted space.
A good way to encourage such experiences is by using interactive toys/puzzles at meal times, this to some degree makes meal time more exciting and natural for your cat. Dividing up their daily ration into smaller servings more often and alternating the hiding places to keep things interesting.
Providing your cat with access to elevated places makes cats happy and can also increase the overall space available to them if they are kept indoors. Tall scratching posts, perches, hammocks or shelves (ideally with hiding places) can offer your cat a great interactive and exciting space. Having sections of this vertical area with enough room for only one cat can allow them with enough room and freedom to escape any other household pets or situation that may otherwise leave them uncomfortable or stressed.
Purchasing removable and interchangeable hammocks or shelves that can be placed up on windows provides a great source of mental stimulation for your cat as it gives them a vantage point to watch from as the day goes by. Moving and changing the pattern of these hammocks or shelves can mimic the natural changes your cat would experience if they were outdoors and encourages your cat to explore their space more frequently and enthusiastically.
Scratching is a normal cat behaviour and it is important to provide your cat with acceptable options, such as carpeted scratching posts or cardboard planks. Not all cats will immediately use these so ensure to encourage and interact with your cat positively when they do use them appropriately. There are numerous materials that scratching posts and planks come in, such as wood, sisal rope, rough textured fabric and cardboard. All these materials have been sourced by what cats have shown to prefer.
Hunt It Down
Cats can lose interest in their toys after a while, so it is important to provide only a few options at a time and on a rotating basis. This will keep your cats’ interest with the toys you already have for them. Interacting with your cat with their toys can be one of the single most effective ways to enrich your cat’s environment as they get interactions not just from their toys but from their owners as well. Playing with your cat for 10 minutes a day and changing the toys and area of the home that you interact can help enrich their environment greatly.