Newsday Tuesday – Enrichment for the Indoor Cat

Many of us keep our cats indoors only. Some provide outdoor enrichment through harness and leash-training or an enclosed catio. But for many indoor cats, their only experiences beyond the confines of the house are views from the windows and a car ride to the veterinarian once in a while. Our Olivia is a year old now, and still very much a kitten at times. She gets the zoomies and she tears around the house like a crazy cat. Sometimes she meows and meows—probably out of boredom. When this happens, I get creative and find a way to spice up her world through play—usually wild, active play. One of her favorite midday activities is chasing her bumpy rubber ball up and down the hallway.
I wondered what else we could do to enrich her life and 16-year-old Sophie’s. I envision a kitty-cat stair case leading to platforms and ledges around the walls of the house for them to explore. In fact, I saw Olivia eyeing our wall of shelves last night. Gads, I don’t need her trying to create a jungle-gym amongst my ceramic and glass and other fragile collectibles. I’ve already removed a valance that she is now tall enough to reach and was getting her claws caught in. When someone gives me flowers, I often delegate them to the deck outside as so many flowers are toxic to cats. So we make a lot of concessions around here for the cats, but what more can we do to provide additional enrichment for Olivia and Sophie? Here are a few ideas I’ve used and that I’ve found through research:

  • Provide multiple cat trees, ramps, tunnels and other such apparatus.
  • Hide away certain toys to bring out when the cats become bored.
  • Likewise, move the tunnels, cat trees, etc, to new locations occasionally.
  • Offer toys filled with treats to entertain the cats and challenge them.
  • Enjoy impromptu interactive play sessions with the cats.
  • Provide toys with moving parts.
  • Bring out the catnip and sprinkle it around.
  • Add a perch to a window where the cats can sit.
  • Give them a box or a paper bag.
  • Build a village of boxes for a really fun play session.
  • Toss balls or another favorite toy for the cats to chase.
  • Wriggle a wand toy. They love the interaction with you and get much needed exercise.
  • Lily loved playing inside newspaper tents—even a sheet or towel tent.
  • Lily (and Olivia, too) loved chasing wads of paper when I’d toss them.

Most of all keep your cat safe and encourage mental and physical challenges. Once the games are over she’ll surely curl up with you on the sofa for some petting and a tummy rub.

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