Have you and your feline bestie fallen into a bit of a rut?
It happens to the best of us, but don't fret pet parents. Sometimes it's hard to figure out how to keep cats busy, especially since they march to the beat of their own dummer. Here are five easy ways to make life more stimulating for your favorite kitty.
1. Use dinnertime as a way to engage your cat's natural predatory instincts.
"We control everything for them, including when they eat, which creates additional stress...Hiding food puzzles around the house is a much better alternative for general wellbeing."
Start your cat off with a beginner level puzzle, meaning one that has openings so they can see and smell the food inside. To prevent your house cat from getting bored, gradually increase the difficulty level of the puzzles in order to make solving them more rewarding. Using their hunting instincts will also help curb feline obesity.
2. Make playtime a multi-sensory experience.
Cats get bored easily, so it's important to mix things up from time to time. The ol' mouse-on-a-string game is a favorite for many of our furry friends, but, like anything, it gets old after a while. Fortunately, there's an easy way to spice it up: add scent!
"People forget that cats require olfactory enrichment in their lives...Try using herbs other than catnip like valerian root, dried honeysuckle, or silver vine, which is the Japanese version of catnip."
Take an old toy your cat has lost interest in, put it in a paper bag with some herbs, and shake it up. For an extra spicy kick, let the toy sit in the bag for a while. Then, remove the cat toy from the bag and present it to your cat. Remember to put the toy away when your cat is done playing with it, rather than letting it sit out. This will keep the toy novel each time it comes out.
3. Tricks aren't just for dogs.
Teaching your cat tricks helps stretch the mental muscles and provides physical exercise. According to Johnson:
"Cats are built for speed and stealth, and proper exercise can help reduce stress levels...Teaching them tricks like running obstacle courses is not only very fun and rewarding, but great for their overall wellbeing."
To get started, try doing something like placing a treat at the end of a tunnel. Gradually increase the difficulty as your feline friend learns the ropes. You can get creative and make your own obstacle course or buy a premade cat gym.
4. Spend quality time with your cat.
Cats, however independent, do still crave companionship, albeit on their own terms.
Certified cat behaviorist Marilyn Krieger notes:
"Everybody benefits from socializing, both owners and cats...Talking to your cat works both ways and helps establish a positive relationship."
Keep in mind that, while socialization is incredibly important, forcing it is a mistake, as it can create stress. Let quality time happen naturally and pay attention to their body language. You may thinking petting them is the answer to helping them, but remember, cats love their privacy.
5. Change up the view.
Vertical space makes for a happy cat (that's why they love hanging out on top of the fridge). According to Krieger, providing more vertical space, like a tall cat tree, in your home can facilitate a feeling of safety and security in your cat. Check out some cat trees with scratching posts, and interactive toys like wand toys. The cat trees will be a fun interactive toy for them. Cats love to pounce on cat tree perches!
"Cats are very territorial and enjoy being able to survey the area."
Another way to give your indoor cat a new perspective is to let him explore the great outdoors with the help of a "catio." These enclosed, outdoor spaces let your cat watch birds, enjoy some fresh air, and shake off the feeling of cabin fever. For cats who are willing, walks on a leash are also a great way to get some exercise and a new view of the world.
This post was originally published on December 5, 2017.
How do you as a cat parent keep life interesting for your cat? Do you have DYI toys? Tell us on the Wide Open Pets Facebook Page!