Indoor Cats: The Importance of Environmental Enrichment

Domestic cats are interesting animals. There are very few other creatures that are both predator and prey in the natural world, and this dual role makes housing a cat in your home a little tricky – but also very entertaining and rewarding!

Why Environmental Enrichment is Important for Indoor Cats
Feral cats and domesticated outdoor cats spend much of their time each day hunting for food and exploring their ever-changing environments. These activities are both physically and emotionally stimulating, engaging all five of the cat’s senses.

Though there are numerous reasons to keep cats predominantly or exclusively inside the house (communicable diseases, parasites and physical harm, just to name a few), we must consider how to satisfy their instinctual needs for environmental stimulation and hunting behavior.

If these innate needs are not addressed, many behavioral issues – such as excessive grooming and destructive behaviors – can arise. Cats who do not receive enough stimulation and exercise are also more prone to obesity and other health concerns.

When implementing an enrichment program to your cat’s indoor environment, remember to change things up regularly. This can mean rotating toys or simply changing the location of food, treats or stationary toys to keep your cat on their toes. Below are a few ideas to help get you started with you cat’s enrichment routine.

10 Ways to Keep Indoor Cats Entertained

  1. Provide a large stuffed animal (at least half the size of your cat) for your cat to attack.
  2. Cut holes in a cardboard box and hide toys or treats inside for your cat to find.
  3. A large paper bag (such as a grocery bag) makes a crinkly noise that will ignite your cat’s curiosity, and can be fun for pouncing on or exploring inside.
  4. Purchase a batting toy, or make one by securely attaching a toy to the end of a stick using some string. Batting toys can be held by you or hung from something for independent play.
  5. Use a Kong, feeding cube or similar system to enrich your cat’s feeding time, allowing them to forage for their food.
  6. Provide cat grass for your cat to graze upon.
  7. Provide shelves or climbing areas for your cat, as they tend to enjoy being up high.
  8. Pull back the curtains or blinds so your cat can gaze out the window at the outside world. Plants, humans, birds and other animals passing by will keep them entertained for hours.
  9. Turn on the TV to a channel or show with lots of animal imagery. Your cat will be fascinated by the animals moving across the screen. There are even YouTube channels especially for cats!
  10. Your cat’s favorite form of entertainment is playtime with you! This is the perfect time to break out a special or new toy.

Get creative with household items – just make sure that they are safe and free of loose items that your cat may accidentally swallow!

Starting fresh with a kitten? Check out our wellness guide for more information. Don’t forget, many of our locations offer toys that provide environmental enrichment for cats. Stop by to shop!