Environmental enrichment for cats – Everything you need to know
You’ve probably heard the term environmental enrichment on occasion, but do not be entirely clear what it means or how it can benefit your cat. Although many felines have incredible luck in being housed in a comfortable house, the innate curiosity of felines can lead to boredom and character alterations over time.
In, we suggest that you read this article so that you understand what is the environmental enrichment for cats and everything you need to know, as well as discover how to carry it out in your home in a simple and cheap way, thus reducing stress in your life.
Definition of environmental enrichment
We could say that environmental enrichment for cats, are all factors that they provide a better quality of life to our cat.
Here there are too many things encompassed (their interaction with people, with other animals to promote the game, quality food, etc.), but in this article, we will focus on two specific types of environmental enrichment:
- Environmental enrichment for cats with inanimate objects: toys, structures and everything related to the physical space available to our cat.
- Environmental enrichment for cats at sensory level: visual stimuli, smells.
Environmental enrichment for cats with inanimate objects
Environmental enrichment for cats with toys
It seems more than obvious that a cat needs hours of play, but sometimes we do not give much importance or spend many hours away from home and we assume that they play alone with whatever they have on hand. However, the toys that they allow us to interact with our cat, they provide us with a very appreciated time to evaluate possible locomotor alterations, or detect Early signs of diseases, in addition to the mutual satisfaction generated by the company.
Some toys that we can recommend are:
- The gray hair (imitating fishing) that we can handle with a toy on its end, or with feathers, are an example of a game for everyone, to which cats tend to be very receptive. Balls, stuffed mice and the like do not move alone, so our cats often lose interest after a while.
- Thetunnelscanvas like those that are used in playgrounds (there are for cats), they provide a mixture between den and toy that attract our cats very much.
- Unprize in the form of appetizing food, like a bauble with malt, or some of your favorite wet food, it will leave you with the feeling that the end of the game is pleasant and that playing has a reward (if it is a very comfortable cat and has entered in the vicious circle of sofa-bed).
- In cats very motivated by food, a simple cylinder of hard cardboard, or cardboard left over after finishing a roll of toilet paper, can be a perfect toy to hide pieces of food inside and cover both ends. Then we can make some holes in the cardboard, so that when you turn it when you smell the food, you can take it out through those holes.
In the market there is a great variety of toys for that purpose, in addition to authentic labyrinths to get the bauble, which stimulate the cat psychically and physically, although they are not so cheap.
Other ideas for the environmental enrichment of the cat
- Structures for cats as environmental enrichment: With structure we refer to constructions of all kinds, from a simple cardboard box, to three-story scrapers, with included hiding place and hammock for sleeping. An economical and simple option, is a cardboard box, which is made a hole so you can enter. If they are installed in a high place (cats prefer elevated areas), it will be the perfect hiding place to escape unwanted visits or when you want to escape from the hustle and bustle in the house. A lot of pretty handyman people can make wooden boxes that they distribute around the rooms of the house in different heights, which also gives them a perfect place for marking by rubbing jaws and nails. You can also build bunk beds with the drawers that are left over from an old table, leaving cushions in them, to provide bed and watchtower. The igloo type beds are a commercial option not as expensive as the scrapers with multiple modules, and they tend to like them a lot.
- Distributeseveral sandboxes The house is also something that could be considered as environmental enrichment with structures. We can not always have your sandbox untouched and, if there is only one and the cat is manic in that regard, it can help you a lot.
It is important not to overload the environment because sometimes we implement too many ideas, all at once, and limit without realizing the area where the cat can wander. In addition, it is necessary respect the adequate distance between toilet area, rest area and food area, which is not easy in small apartments. That is why it is interesting to take advantage of the vertical space for your recreation or rest area, if it includes sleeping surfaces or hammocks.
And the laser pointer?
It’s funny to see our cat chasing a light on the wall, but the truth is that it generates frustration such that it causes the opposite effect to the desired one. The cat can not catch anything, as it does with the stuffed mouse, the feather. He spends an hour chasing something that can not be touched and suddenly disappears. This type of games are not recommended if what we want is to provide our cat with an adequate environment for a balanced life without stress.
Environmental enrichment for cats at sensory level
Apart from toys and other inanimate objects, there are other ways to enrich the daily life of your cat to improve their welfare, then we explain them to you:
- Thevisual stimuli They are very important for our cat to be balanced and comfortable. The ideal is to let you see through the window, but you have to be very careful for two reasons: the most obvious is that you can fall or get trapped when you leave the window partially open, the other is that sometimes there is too much external stimulation ( birds constantly in the area, for example), and our cat can end up frustrated to be watching for a long time without being able to do anything. Letting access to views to a place traveled by people, and occasionally by other animals, but without too much presence of possible prey, would be ideal. Cats have good visual acuity and distinguish several colors, so many people opt for videos to put nature videos on the TV. However, practice indicates that they do not capture their attention as much as live life through a window.
- Theolfactory stimuli: Odors are very important in the life of cats, some attract them magically. Enrich your environment with herbs that are pleasing to you (Nepeta cataria,catnip), or leave a drop of bleach in each sandbox after changing them. etc, they are encouraged to take an interest in what surrounds them. Not all respond with the same intensity to the same scents, but they are easily found and for little money we can prove it.
In addition, in older cats that develop something similar to senile dementia, olfactory therapy usually helps recognize the different places: cleanliness, food. When they are disoriented and do not remember where to go to urinate, the smell of lavender, for example (if we use it routinely in that place), will “remind” you that this is the place where you have to go to locate the sandbox.
In the same way, you can choose up to three scents, which we will have in the form of air fresheners in the places that we want our cat to recognize. Equivalent to leave notes in which they are reminded of a routine.
Other environmental enrichment tips for cats.
Additionally, although they are not as economical as the previous measures, we can use feline pheromones by the House. They are in the form of diffusers that plug in just like the air fresheners, as well as in spray. In moments of stress, as a move or a new member in the family, pheromones can help our cat to be more relaxed and entertained. However, they should stay a few weeks to notice its effect.
We must also remember that facial marking and by sharpening Nail or rubbing, is essential in the life of cats. Not allowing them to do it, because they leave hairs in the places of passage or because their nails can damage a piece of furniture, it is a mistake that we usually make. Instead, we can choose to put strips of coconut fiber in the corners that you visit frequently to mark. They can be arranged as corner, covering sofas and door frames to which the cat has special fondness. Our furniture will be protected, and our cats, relaxed.
Do you have a trick for environmental enrichment for cats that you want to show us? We are looking forward to meeting you and we encourage you to share it with us and other users!
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