Feline Environment Enrichment

Harmonious Homes with Cats

The practice of keeping cats strictly indoors has allowed our kitties to live substantially longer and healthier lives owing to elimination of car traumas, toxins, the neighbourhood bully cat, angry neighbors and their dogs,  and wildlife (coyotes) and a reduction in the spread of infectious diseases including feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, rabies and internal and external parasites.

The obvious drawback to Felix however is the boredom of confinement- what on earth does a young inquisitive feline do to fill the 24 hrs inside the house?  Without birds, mice and insects to hunt?  Without the ability to explore new nooks and crannies, and check out what the neighbor is up to?

Scratching the furniture is a common behavioural complaint. This is a normal behaviour for all cats as it provides them with a chance to stretch, mark territory, shed the outer layer of their nails and exercise.  A scratching post should always be available to your cat that may be covered in a material that your cat prefers including rope, or carpet. Sprinkling cat nip around the cat tree may encourage your cat to use it.  For help with improving your cat’s scratching behaviours, please give us a call!

It is essential that we ensure they can express their normal cat behaviours including scratching, hunting, chasing, climbing and pouncing. In a natural environment, cats spend a large amount of their day finding and acquiring prey and they are also exposed to a constantly changing environment as they roam.   Providing an enriched environment can help to prevent many behavioural issues that occur secondary to boredom and stress. Stress affects many physiological problems such as obesity, overgrooming and diseases associated with the urinary tract.

The following tips and explanations can hopefully keep you and your kitty sane while spending long happy hours in the house together!

  • Domestic cats thrive on companionship. Social interaction can be in the form of play, grooming, petting or feeding.  If you are away for long periods of time in the day, your cat may benefit from introducing a dog or cat companion.  This decision will have to be made carefully based on the temperament of your own cat.
  • Stress levels can be minimized by providing a predictable routine for feeding, playing, grooming and scooping the litter box. Set aside time daily for each of these important aspects of your cat’s day
  • It is also important to teach your cat coping skills by making small regular changes in your cat’s environment which provides novelty. Examples of this may include regularly rotating their toys.  Most cat owners have discovered the feline fascination with the simple cardboard box- talk about low maintenance!
  • Hide food for them to have to hunt for- just don’t forget where you put it, or you could get rodent visitors in the fall! Introducing feeding puzzles can move food into an interactive activity.

  • Visual stimulation is also an excellent way to prevent boredom. Providing window seats or places for your cat to perch and look at other animals and birds can be a great way to create stimulation. You can also find video’s designed for cats for them to watch while you are away from home.
  • Train your cat to wear a harness and leash so you can take them outside for a walk or to explore in the yard with your supervision. Even better, outdoor cat enclosures may also be a safe way for your friend to experience the outdoors.

There is a wealth of information and suggestions on enriching your home for your fuzzy feline friends available online, books and of course by asking us for advice and guidance.  Please feel free to discuss any concerns you have about enriching your cat’s environment at your next visit!