19 Actionable Enrichment Ideas That Will Keep Your Cat Healthier and Happier Today

I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say:

  • You want the very best for your cat(s)!

  • You want them to be happy, healthy, and live their best lives with you!

The number one struggle for many cat families is this - how do we keep our cats mentally stimulated? How do we best enrich their lives and keep them happy?

Our cat family community came together to create this amazing resource. It will give you all these enrichment strategies and much much more!


Roxy playing with her fish toy featuring @roxythe_kitty


Before that, we wanted to find out what are some reasons why cats don't get the enrichment they need.


Here's what we found...

A) Reduced activity due to extreme weather (seasonal)

B) Local restrictions on travel

C) Busy humans (working long hours)

D) Stereotypes that dictate cats don’t need enrichment

What we know as cat parents...

  • Cats enjoy routine.

  • Interactions with cats need to be positive, consistent, and predictable.

  • Cats need an opportunity for play and predatory behaviour.

  • Change can be good - to stimulate them.

  • But, change can also be bad as it might trigger undesirable behaviours.


Video by @kate_and_caesar


Why is enrichment so important for our cats?


A) To avoid destructive behaviour in cats like:

  • Scratching

  • Excessive vocalization

  • Knocking things over

  • Elimination outside of litter boxes

These can be signs of separation anxiety, loneliness, or boredom in our cats. Read more about it here.

PS: These behaviours can also be due to medical reasons too! So it's best to consult your vet if you notice them.

B) It strengthens your bond with your cat.

C) Happier cats.


D) Reduced stress, especially in families with more than one furkid.


Here are the Enrichment Ideas we promised


This is where the fun begins... for both you and your cat!

We asked our ‘Cats Are Family’ community what they do to keep their cats(s) engaged and these are the great ideas they came up with:

Toys/DIY toys


1) The good old string

Video by @meetmymilo


The stretchier the better! Attach a feather or toy to the end for lots of fun!


Leveling up: Combine it with a cat tree or an obstacle will up the hunting game for sure.


Wise Advice: Please supervise this type of play. Do not leave your cat(s) alone with string. It can become a choking hazard or swallowed, resulting in problems!


Video by @kittymunchiefloofy

2) Designer cardboard castle forts


There are lots of DIY ideas to build hideouts or puzzles with cardboard boxes. Many of our cats love to hang out in them.


Video by @chai_thyme_evan


Leveling up: Plan a virtual Friday Night Box Pawty and invite your friends on Instagram!

Make it extra special by filling with crumpled paper or balls and see what happens.

3) Wand toys


These are a common favourite. What is the ultimate feather wand toy you ask? Da Bird is a firm favourite from our cat family community.


Videos by @bruce_and_clark_the_kittens and @lucky.dusty.sunny

Wise Advice: Strings are tons of fun, but please supervise your cats when playing with them!

Video by @iammeowy

4) Catnip, honeysuckle, silver vine, or Valerian toys and kickers.


One cat family member filled finger puppet toys with catnip to make a homemade solution. Isn't that amazing???!


The ‘Cats are Family’ Community suggests:

A) Nutmeg & Co (@nutmegandcompany) - An online store in Canada. All toys are homemade with love and are made sustainably and with eco-friendly products to care for the earth. The best part? 10% of all profits go to helping the local shelter.

B) Chacon the Conscious Cat Store - An online store in Australia that provides eco-friendly handmade cat toys. They are proudly crafted by designers around the globe with lots of love.

C) Cat Knit by Sky - An online store on Etsy that makes accessories for pets, hand-knitted with love (from Norway.)

D) Sheer Fun For Cats is a great interactive toy that can change up the old toys and make them new.


Playing games with your cat (our top recommendations):

5) Fetch.


Some of the cheapest things are the most fun - am I right? A crinkle ball, piece of paper, tin foil - anything you can toss, and your kitty will chase after.

Video by @hamishandpancho


Leveling up: Teach your cat to retrieve their toy and bring it back to you. Not sure how? Check this out.

Video by @handsome_hobbs_official


6) Hide and seek or chase can be a fun way to interact.

7) Magic carpet rides


This can be on towels, in tunnels, or in boxes and is a favourite for some kitties.


8) Climbing/hang out spaces:

There are LOTS of cat trees and furniture that you choose from. Some of which can attach to the wall, which will give your kitty hours of enjoyment and save you space.

Photo of Peanut as she enjoys perching on her homemade cat wall furniture created by the talented Cindy, featured at @picklesnpeanut

The ‘Cats Are Family’ Community suggests:

A) Climbing walls and...

B) Cat climbing posts - see videos below for some of our favourites.


C) Cat scratchers - check out some of our favourites here.

They are essential for stretching and getting your cat to expend some of that built up energy. Did someone say zoomies?


9) Grooming and quiet time with your cat:


Not every cat will need to be playing, running, jumping, or being super active all day. Spend some time hanging out with your cat without intruding in on their comfort space. In fact, grooming them is a great way to interact with them! Be sure to watch for their limits on this as your feline companion will let you know when enough is enough.



10) Exploring outside:

An absolutely gorgeous video by @marina_ventures


Exploring the outside world doesn’t have to mean mega hikes or mountain climbing. Though this is definitely a great way to enrich your cat, it isn't for everyone! Alternatives include:

  • Exploring on your balcony.

  • In the hallway of your apartment.

  • In the yard/garden can provide lots of enrichment.

  • In indoor common areas.

  • On rooftop community spaces.

Photos by @bruce_and_clark_the_kittens


Wise Advice: Always make sure you have permission to walk your cats in those areas. Make sure that you keep your kitty safe with a harness and leash at all times or confined to an enclosed area. Why? For their safety (ie. from predators such as coyotes, from toxic plants or substances, etc.) and for the safety of wildlife around them (ie. birds).

Many of our cat families love to explore the great outdoors with their cats. This includes bringing them on hikes and bush walks. You'll need to invest time to get your cat used to walking outdoors in a leash and harness.

These are a few things you might need to get started:

A) A harness and leash.

B) Backpack +/- a stroller - these items provide a safe place for cats to come back to when outside.

Photos by @bruce_and_clark_the_kittens


The ‘Cats Are Family’ Community suggests:


If you aren’t sure how to get started with exploring with your cat outside, check out some of these amazing resources below.

- Check out daily content on Instagram @thegibsonchronicles and on their website at www.thegibsonchronicles.com


- Check out daily content on Instagram @catexplorer.community and website at www.catexplorer.co

Other options for safe outdoor exploration:


11) A catio or an outdoor tent (mesh is recommended to allow for airflow).

Photo of outdoor tent featuring @roxythe_kitty


These make for great locations to watch the world go by. The best part? Your kitties are safe and so is the wildlife.

12) A window hammock/catio.

Photos of window catio by @adventures_ofjoeyandlexi


This allows for your cat's new favourite pastime - bird watching! Installing a bird feeder outside the window is a sure way to attract birds and squirrels for hours of Bird TV.


13) Clicker Training

Clicker training is excellent for engagement, burning excess energy, and having fun.

Video by @tailofthewild


The ‘Cats Are Family’ Community suggests:

A) Check out this amazing podcast. The Cat Explorer Community discusses clicker training with Julie from Cat School.

B) Cat School - Check out @cat.school and listen to this podcast episode on Catexplorer - How to Train Your Cat and Enrich Their Life with Cat School .


Video by @bruce_and_clark_the_kittens

14) Puzzles


Food puzzles also help to stimulate your kitty and trigger that hunting instinct. The best part? You don't have to spend much on them by creating your very own!

Google "DIY toilet paper tube treat dispensers" or "DIY Cat Toys" for more options.

Photos by @molly.and.chase (interactive cat feeder)

Wise Advice: Once you start DIYing cat stuff, you can't stop. It's an addiction, trust me. The bright side is that it's good for your cat!

The ‘Cats Are Family’ Community suggests:

A) My Intelligent Pet Dog/Cat Sudoku food board

Photos of Cat Sudoku food board featuring @meetmymilo


B) Trixie Pet Puzzle

C) PAWZ Slow Feeder Puzzle Toy


It's not always about food...


Video by @mavericktux with the Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy


15) Interactive remote monitoring cameras and toys

Another great idea is to consider getting remote cameras and treat dispensers. This allows you to interact with your cats when you're not home.

The ‘Cats Are Family’ Community suggests:

A) Petcube has a camera and laser toy built-in so you can watch your kitty’s escapades.

PetCube laser pointer toy featuring @meetmymilo


B) You can also turn an old iPhone into a camera to check in on your cat(s) and even talk to them while you’re away!

Check out the free app Alfred Camera that you can download (both to your phone and your new/old pet camera).

Wise Advice: For some cats, hearing and not seeing their guardians can cause stress. Test this out and see how they respond. If they get stressed, it's best to try something else!


16) Laser toys:

These toys are either handheld or automatic. They can be so much fun. Any interactive games you invent with your cat are only limited by your imagination.

Video by @jezebels.cat

Wise Advice: Be sure to end the play with kitty getting the red dot and a prize of some sort so they don’t get frustrated.

17) Kitty TV and video games:

There are many products/programs out there to play on your TV for your cat’s enjoyment.

Leveling up: Check out interactive kitty video games and apps that your cat can play on an iPad.


18) Tunnels:


Tunnels are so versatile and make great hiding spots. Some cats love to run/jump through them at quick speeds.

Leveling up: Combine these tunnels with your cat scratcher to mix things up for your cat.


19) Cat wheels

No, we're not talking about putting your cat on a skateboard, though that might work for some. Cat wheels are a great way for some cats to run and burn off energy. Think about it as an exercise treadmill for kitties. Most cats need a bit of training to get them used to the wheel. But once they figure it out, they usually love it to bits!

Video by @tailofthewild


The ‘Cats Are Family’ Community suggests:

A) Ziggy Doo Cat Wheel

B) One Fast Cat Wheel


How much "enrichment time" does my cat need?

That depends upon the energy level, age, and personality of your cat. For a middle-aged cat that is active, they should get a few (10-15 minute) enrichment sessions a day.


Conclusion

I hope that today's post showed you that keeping your cat enriched can be easy! There are lots of benefits including forming stronger bonds and trust with your cat. And let's face it, it's plain fun!

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which of the 19 Enrichment strategies do you use to keep your cat engaged? If it's not included here, share them with us by tagging @furrymunchkinphotography, @roxythe_kitty, @kate_and_caesar, or @thegibsonchronicles so we can share it with everyone.

Better yet, let us know by completing the form below.





Keefe Tay (Pet Photographer in Sydney) 

Location: Sydney (Lane Cove, Upper and Lower North Shore, and the Northern Beaches) 

Email: keefe@furrymunchkins.com.au

Phone no: 0404628424

We specialise in Outdoor, Natural light Dog and Cat Photography in Sydney. 

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