Cats that live indoors need properly enriched environments to live a happy life. The purpose of environmental enrichment is to offer options so that the cat can express his natural behaviour. If this isn't provided your cat may feel stressed which can affect both his health and behaviour.
Indoor cats need unrestricted access to resting areas where stress factors, such as loud noises and other animals, can be minimized. In this place the cat should have access to a litter box, food, water, a scratching post, a perch and toys.
Litter boxes should be located in a safe, quieter area, away from food and water bowls. If you have more than one cat a box should be provided for each cat. The litter box should be scooped daily and washed weekly.
Small portions of food and treats should be given at random times throughout the day and in various places around the house. This seems to be fun for most cats, allowing them to display some hunting behaviour. You can also use food dispensing toys. Cat drinking fountains can also provide an interesting addition to the environment for some cats.
Cats also need perching options throughout the household, as they naturally climb for observation and safety, so provide places to climb and look out of windows.
Scratching is a natural behaviour for cats. Scratching posts should be placed in frequently visited areas of the home and in proximity to preferred resting places. Cats that scratch chair legs may prefer a vertical scratching post, while cats that scratch rugs and carpets may prefer a horizontal scratching post.
Play behaviours in cats are closely related to their natural hunting behaviour. Appropriate toys for cats include wand toys, self-propelling toys that mimic prey, balls inside a box, catnip filled toys and light beam pointer games. Toys should be rotated at least once a week to maintain novelty and interest.
Other enrichments that can be offered include music, catnip or grasses and playtime with other cats. Boxes are another way of keeping cats entertained and comfortable. They use them to keep warm, to escape threats and to scratch and perch on. Your time with your cat is also important, so make sure you have daily time to interact with your pet.
Cats kept solely indoors should be provided with ways to exhibit their natural behaviour to ensure their welfare!
Would you like to know more about cats? Check our Feline Courses: