Without adequate enrichment, your cat may begin to display problem behaviours. Lack of physical and mental stimulation can lead to inappropriate scratching and elimination, overgrooming, and even bullying behaviour. Keep your feline friend entertained with the following tips.
#1: Unleash your cat’s inner predator through play
Cats love to stalk and pounce on their prey, so provide opportunities for your pet to unleash their inner predator. Choose toys that look like prey animals, such as catnip mice, plush toys, feather wands, or interactive “insects.” Toys that squeak, chirp, and chitter can pique your cat’s interest, especially when you move them in erratic patterns to make them more fun to stalk. Try several toy varieties to see what type of prey your cat prefers to hunt.
#2: Allow your cat to express their scratching needs
Cats have an instinctive desire to scratch because this behaviour fulfills many of their mental and physical needs. Your cat will need a proper place to scratch so they can keep their nails in good shape, stretch, and deposit pheromones for scent communication. Typically, cats prefer to scratch around room entrances and windows, so place scratching posts or pads in these areas to encourage your feline friend to scratch in the appropriate spot. Ensure the post or pad is large enough for your cat to fully extend when scratching, and provide a variety of scratching surfaces, such as sisal, corrugated cardboard, and wood. If your cat doesn’t appear interested in their scratching post or pad, sprinkle catnip or spritz catnip oil on it.
#3: Cater to your cat’s natural eating behaviours
Cats are meant to hunt for their food, not gorge themselves on a never-ending buffet of kibble. If dry food is left out all day, your cat is more likely to eat when they’re bored, in addition to overeating at each “meal.” Instead of allowing your cat to eat constantly, make them work for their meals by using food puzzles instead of a dish. Determine your cat’s daily caloric requirements, divide that into two or three meals, and place a portion into a food puzzle. Rubber Kongs, LickiMats, or homemade puzzles will help entertain your cat and will keep them from eating too much, too fast.