The importance of cat enrichment

The Importance of Environmental Enrichment for House Cats

This week we have a guest blog about environmental enrichment for house cats. Brought to you by our pal from Katzenworld – the lovely Marc-Andre Runcie-Unger. If you’ve not heard of these guys and are as cat mad as we are, check them out!

In today’s blog post we would like to look at how to keep your cat happy. While this is especially important for those of our cats that are indoor only, this can also apply to cats with access to the outside!

Many new cat guardians go by the misconception that cats simply like to sleep all day! But cats do need a lot of stimulation. For a few tips on enriching your felines life, we’ve put together this handy list of suggestions.

1. Get your cat a scratch tree!

Scratch trees or wall mounted walking platforms are a great opportunity to give your cat exercise and environmental enrichment. Cats simply love it if you can give them a bit of a “3-Dimensional” space! This can be especially useful if your cat wants to see guests on their terms as they can get away from the ground and sit on their safe perch of a scratch tree instead.

Wall mounted climbing areas can also be a great way to create a space if you don’t have the room for a big free standing scratch tree or are simply looking for something a little more unique for you and your cat.

Either way providing these areas for your cats will ensure that they can play to their hearts content and get the exercise and enrichment they need. You may even find that your favorite sofa will be less of a target with a nice and interesting area for your feline friend around ?

Of course this doesn’t just apply to your indoor cats! There are plenty of weather proof scratch trees around that you can use in your garden or outdoor climbing frames to make it easier for your cat to get back inside.

Enriching your garden can help keep your cat happy in their own area and thus often reduces the distance they will roam during the day and night. And who wouldn’t want their cat to have access to the outside while being safe!

2. The toys!

I have lost count of the times someone has told me that their cat doesn’t like to play with toys or that their cat is too old to play with toys. If you are one of the people thinking in that way think about how you’d feel if you had to watch an episode of Friends for 10,000 times or more!

Many cats simply get bored with the toys we have given them as they like a challenge and try something new. That doesn’t mean that you have to go out and purchase new toys every other day but simply means you have to be smarter in the way you use the toys.

If your cat has a few favorite toys do NOT leave them out all the time. Put them away in a cupboard so that they are out of sight. Once you get these toys back out most cats will naturally get excited as they think it’s something brand new.

Different cats of course also like to play with different toys. There are interactive toys such as electronic mice or laser toys, dangler toys and of course catnip and valerian toys.

When it comes to catnip & valerian toys make sure that you don’t go for the cheapest toys on offer. Research the brand and find out where their catnip comes from, how long it’s stored for if the toys are not in a sealed bag.

During my daytime I work for 4cats Heimtierbedarf GmbH, which is a German manufacturer of catnip & valerian toys and we often have to deal with people telling us that their cats don’t react to cat attract but when asked what brands they tried it often turns out to be cheap imports from abroad that were purchased on eBay.

A good catnip / valerian toy will be using a high quality organic blend of catnip or pure valerian root but sadly many of the imports will be using something that looks more like dust.

Once you’ve found the brand of choice for your cats catnip  / valerian toys it’s important to understand that the affect of actinidine will only last up to 30 minutes! If your cat reacts to it you’ll see your little friend exhibit behaviors such as licking, rolling over their toy or kicking it. They are a great way to have fun and enrich your cats general routine.

Once the playtime is offer I would highly suggest to take the toy away and put it out of reach to dry. Yes your cat will most likely have slobbered all over it! Once dry stick the toys in a zip lock back to ensure that they will last quite some time. Most high quality cat attract material should outlast the life of its containing fabric!

Valerian toys can also be a great choice to destress your companion. While both catnip and valerian make your cat initially go “crazy” they will be much more mellow and calm using the valerian filling. This is because valerian has a calming affect on most animals and is for example often used in tea bags to help us humans sleep.

If you’d like to get yourself some of these cat toys they are available over at Katzenworld from a variety of brands.

3. Puzzle feeders!

I am sure in agreement that we all like to have an occasional snack from crips to chocolates whichever is our favourite! Cats are no different when it comes to that but we shouldn’t just throw them in their bowl. Have your cat work for them.

There are many cool puzzle feeders out there which can be used to hide snacks in them. This means your cat has to work just that little bit extra to find the treat but also provides them with a fun little game with the ultimate reward at the end.

Conclusion: No cat is the same so remember to take different approaches with your own feline companion and let your cat lead you into finding their favorite environmental enrichment.

I hope you like Marc’s top three tips! Let us know which of these you’re doing already and if you have anything extra to share that makes your kitty purr.

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