Enrichment for Cats

DO YOU PLAY WITH YOUR CATS TO ENRICH THEIR LIVES?
Enrichment should focus on allowing cats to perform all of their natural behaviours and, in turn, preventing frustration. When cats become frustrated this may appear as unusual or exaggerated... behaviours or aggression, so it is important to keep their environment as interesting and as stimulating as possible and to think about ways of replacing all the things that a cat would do if it were out and about. Provide opportunities for play, maximise the use of 3-D space and make them ‘work' for their food.

Play

Objects that are cat prey size, have a complex texture and that move will be of the most interest to cats
Try playing hunting games with toys on the end of string, allowing the occasional ‘catch' to avoid frustration
Any exercise is a great stress reliever and short bursts of 1-2 minutes, several times a day are ideal
You may need to persevere to find the games different cats enjoy
Don't play with cats using your feet or hands as this may encourage inappropriate play
Toys should be changed regularly to keep them exciting


3-Dimensional space

Most cats enjoy climbing and jumping and will spend a lot of time on elevated areas, which they use as vantage points from which to survey their surroundings
Try to provide shelves at different levels, or objects to climb in and sit on top of.


Food

Feral cats can spend eight hours hunting every day. In contrast, cats in homes often get their food in a bowl and often spend very little time and energy engaged in getting their food.
Use 'puzzle feeders' to feed dry food (from part of their daily ration), every meal time.
To get cats used to this idea start by placing the dry food just next to the bowl. Once they are used to eating away from the bowl, gradually increase the distance between the bowl and the food until it is scattered randomly
Hide bits of food inside scrunched up pieces of paper around the room.


Puzzle feeders
Puzzle feeders can be made by making holes, just bigger than dried cat biscuits, in a plastic soft drinks bottle and filling it with the cat's daily portion of dried food. As the cat taps the bottle across the floor bits of food drop out. Alternatively, we have tested two commercially available puzzle feeders, the Cat Activity Fun Board and the Catmosphere Ball:

It can be great fun to think up different ways to provide cats with stimulation and to watch them using their minds to work out puzzles.