To keep your cat happy and healthy, it’s important to provide your indoor cat with enrichment activities. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 5 fast and easy DIY ideas for feline enrichment you can do today that will help you entertain your cat and stave off boredom.
1. Create a Foraging Mat
Puzzles, like foraging mats, are mentally stimulating for your cat. Why? In the wild, cats are mainly hunters, but they also forage for bugs and plants to chew on. An indoor cat, however, has their needs met 24/7. And let’s face it; your cat’s full kibble bowl isn’t particularly challenging to figure out.
One of our favorite tricks for DIY cat enrichment activities is known as a foraging mat. It’s an easy way to bring the foraging fun indoors. For this activity, you’ll need some cat treats and something you can use as a play mat.
For a treat, you can use any dry kibble or special treats. Or you can spice up your cat’s life with catnip, cat grass, or leaves from outside. Our favorite non-food treat is our own Cloud Nine Silver Vine. It’s a fine powder that you can sprinkle on the mat or dust on your cat’s favorite toys. Like catnip, it makes cats feel good, but it’s a stronger attractant than the more familiar catnip.
For the mat itself, we like a simple napkin, handkerchief, or paper sandwich bag. Or if you want to make their foraging adventure a full sensory experience, try a Magic Carpet. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you can roll, fold, or crumple. You’re going to hide your chosen treat in the folds.
Then allow your cat to explore and burrow into the material. Your cat will have so much fun using their imagination, crinkling the material, and flexing their foraging skills.
2. Do some bird watching
A quick and simple way to provide your cat with endless entertainment is bird watching. And all you need is a window or your TV.
For the real-life version, set up a bird feeder outside of a window and give your cat a nearby perch so they have a front-row seat to the outdoor action. You may even hear your cat chittering as squirrels and birds come grab a snack in your yard.
For virtual reality, turn on the TV and play some nature videos of birds, squirrels, or other small game. A simple YouTube search yields endless options for cat friendly TV. Note the videos your cat finds most interesting and save them to your favorites. My cats love this one:
3. Rotate your cat’s toys
Toy rotation just means swapping out toys that your cat has grown tired of (or destroyed). You can rotate for a single play session or create a rotation routine.
For a one-time swap, tempt your cat by adding a new toy to their usual fave. For instance, if they usually play with a wand toy, grab a new attachment. If your cats love to chase, try adding a play tunnel to the fun.
To create a regular habit of toy rotation and extend the life of your cat’s toys, follow these six simple steps:
- Gather all your cat’s toys in a box or basket.
- Toss out any broken or damaged toys and replace them with new toys.
- Categorize toys into three groups: scent, interactive play, and independent play. You want a few in each category.
- Choose one or two toys from each category to put out and hide the rest.
- Recharge the toys from time to time. Buy new ones or add catnip or silver vine to spark interest.
- Repeat these steps on a regular schedule to keep your cat’s toys feeling new and exciting.
Toy rotation prevents boredom because it gives your cats new “prey” to hunt. When playing with your cat, old toys become new again if your cat hasn’t seen them in a while.
4. Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle
You don’t need fancy toys to entertain your cat, though. There are so many items around your home that could be used to enrich your cat’s life and change up their routine—even trash.
Some examples of cat-safe trash include crumpled up newspaper, paper bags, empty paper towel rolls (or toilet paper rolls), and boxes. Get creative and try something new. My cats love cotton swabs for some reason. They love to bat them across the floor and toss them in the air. Just make sure you avoid the plastic ones or used swabs.
You can also bring the outdoors in with grass, leaves, or sticks. Your cat will want to sniff or chew on whatever you bring in, so you’ll want to choose stuff that’s safe for your cat. No pesticides or toxic plants or flowers, please.
5. Create a Cat Corner
Another way to enrich your cat’s life is to add more space with plenty of opportunities for sensory enrichment. If you’ve got the room, give your cat some, like a tucked away corner in your home or their very own quarters.
To their new space, add items that are just for your cat, like a cat tree, scratching post, or toys. Think about what your cat prefers. For example, you could cut holes in a cardboard box, then fill the box with leaves, grass, some crumpled paper, or toys. Then allow them to explore the different textures and smells.
Feel free to periodically change up the location and any of the items in it. Variety will change up their routine and make your cat curious again.
Cats need mental enrichment to keep them from getting depressed
An enriching life is important for your furry friend’s physical and mental health. By using these simple activities, your cat’s quality of life will grow. They’ll be more active and they’ll spend less time engaging in unwanted behavior.
So what are you waiting for? Go play with your cat!
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