Entertain your Kitties’ Brains! Environmental Enrichment – Toys, Play & Behavior
Here at The Cat Clinic of Roswell, we advocate indoor only cats. This lifestyle keeps them healthier, safer and living longer lives. However, some cats may get bored or frustrated being kept inside. Below are some suggestions for keeping them active, interested and happy.
- Alphabet Letter Magnets – Place these on the lower half of the fridge, oven, dishwasher, or on a magnetic board for your cat to bat around. You can find these at most toy stores.
- Birds and Bees – For visual entertainment attract birds with strategic placement of bird feeders outside windows and screened porches. For nighttime viewing, try leaving a porch light on to attract flying insects. This may help you sleep better if your cat is active at night.
- Bringing The Outside In – As long as your cat is current on vaccinations and deworming, bring in tree branches, rocks, leaves, things from the outdoors to pique their senses. Try hiding food treats around or under these items for extra fun. Additionally, you may order live catnip or grass plants from Bell Rock Growers (www.bellrockgrowers.com) by calling 888-943-2847. These plants provide instant gratification and cost approximately $4.00 each.
- Catnip Marinade – Place all soft fuzzy toys in container with catnip to “marinate”. You can do this as often as needed to refresh the scent. At The Cat Clinic Of Roswell, we sell several different catnip toys that are refillable for $5.00-$10.00. Catnip refills come in a pack of 6 and are $3.00.
- Chirping Fuzzy Mice – Wal-Mart has a gray one with pink ears that is a favorite. There are many versions of this motion activated toy. Some chirp like live mice, some move around and some have flashing lights.
- Drinking Fountain – There are several different water fountains for cats that simulate drinking from a stream or water faucet. The model we prefer is the Drinkwell Pet Fountain (www.vetventures.com). It can be taken apart and cleaned, has charcoal filters that can be replaced as needed and you can purchase an optional 6 cup reservoir which is great for multi-cat households or cats that require lots of fresh water. It retails for approximately $49.95 and can be ordered directly from the manufacturer at 800-805-7532.
- Element Of Surprise – Giving surprise treats is a great way to reward your cat and strengthen the bond between you and your cat. Contrary to popular belief, some cats can even be treat trained to sit, come and do tricks on command. You can use conventional cat treats or try using large pieces of cat food such as “Oral Care” by Science Diet (www.hillspet.com).
- Feline Furniture – Cat Condos will give your cat a place of their own, increase vertical space in your home and create “safe zones” from dogs, children or other cats. Our favorite condos are from Angelicalcat.com (www.angelicat.com), they carry a wide array of styles, sizes and colors. You may reach Angelical Cat by phone at 954-747-3629. Scratching posts and horizontal cardboard scratching pads give your cat an appropriate surface to scratch. The “World’s Best Scratching Post” is available at the Cat Clinic Of Roswell. Cardboard scratchers are available at most pet retail outlets such as Petsmart and cost approximately $6.95.
- Fish Tanks – Having a fish tank is an excellent way to keep your cat occupied, especially at night when you are trying to sleep. Obviously, you’ll want to make sure to have a secure lid to keep fish safe. Also, make sure you are prepared for the effort of owning additional pets.
- Foraging Toys – These are toys that must be manipulated for your cat to obtain a treat reward. A couple of examples are the “Kitty Kong” and the “Goodie Ship”. There are many different styles available at most retail pet outlets.
- Hunting – To satisfy your cats prey drive, try hiding treats or food around the house, in cat condos or under/behind furniture.
- Interactive Toys – These are toys that allow you and your cat to play together and often provide great exercise for your cat. Laser pointers, available at most office supply stores and some department stores like Target, range in price from $6-$20. The Feline Flyer is a feather toy that mimics a bird, is available at the Cat Clinic Of Roswell for about $7.50. Refill feathers cost about $5.00.
- Light-up Laser Type Balls – Just like the chirping fuzzy mice above, there are many different motion activated balls that provide hours of entertainment for cats by flashing when touched or rolled.
- Motorized Toys – There are many motorized toys available on the market. Catnip magazine rated the “Panic Mouse” the Best Motorized Toy in their January 2003 issue. It is “…an electronic mouse that randomly waves a wand and attached spider toy through the air for your cat to chase and grab, mimicking a human waving a wand toy. The wand moves in different directions and at different speeds, sometimes pausing. It is also height and
speed adjustable.” It can be ordered at 909-506-3643 and costs approximately $30.00.
- Nature Videos – Some cats enjoy watching television, especially if it’s geared for them. They’ll love the sounds and sights of nature videos or try leaving the television tuned to Animal Planet. There are also videos produced for cats that feature aquariums, birds and squirrels. You can purchase these from ads in the back of “Cats” or “Cat Fancy” magazines. We especially like “Kitty Kat TV”, available for sale at The Cat Clinic of Roswell.
- Nightlights – Many people believe that cats see well in the dark, however this myth is based on outdoor cats hunting by moonlight. You can mimic this at home by placing nightlights by food, litterbox or sleeping areas. This will benefit all cats, particularly those who are geriatric, and it may also decrease intercat aggression.
- Old Standbys – Cats love investigating things like cardboard boxes, paper bags, newspaper tents and cardboard rolls from paper towels or toilet paper. You can also try putting toys or treats inside the cardboard rolls or hanging parts of the rolls from a door handle.
- Outdoor Enclosures – Even indoor cats can enjoy the outdoors safely through screened in porches, screened in decks, window seats, chain link enclosures (i.e. dog runs) or Kitty Walks (877-844-4438) or Midnight Pass (www.midnightpass.com.) The most important thing is to ensure that the enclosure is secure, covered on all four sides and has a roof or ceiling so that cats can’t escape. Also, make sure your cats are current on vaccines, flea control and are dewormed regularly.
- Ping-Pong Balls – Try putting 2 or more ping-pong balls in a bathtub. Cats will love jumping in and batting them around. This can be a bit noisy, so if the bathtub is near your bedroom, make sure to take them out before you go to sleep. Ping-Pong balls can be found in a 6 pack at Target for about $2.00. You may also find them at sporting good stores.
- Wind-up Toys – Place small wind-up toys in a sink filled with water; also try any items that float like ping-pong balls, or a large bright marble so they have to “go fishing” for it. You can find wind-up toys in the infant bath section of toy or department stores.