Cats appear to be inherently playful and curious creatures, well-suited for engaging in various activities. Unfortunately, as cats transition from kittenhood to adulthood, many pet owners tend to perceive them as sedentary beings who prefer lounging in the sun rather than frolicking around the living room.
1. The Importance of Keeping Cats Engaged
Contrary to this belief, Kristen Collins, a CPDT-certified ASPCA animal trainer, asserts that cats enjoy having things to do. Without constructive activities, they may resort to undesirable behaviors like excessive meowing, urinating outside the litter box, and scratching furniture. Introducing brain-stimulating activities to your cat from a young age has been shown to prevent or delay the onset of cognitive dysfunction syndrome. To keep your feline active, consider entertaining her in the following ways:
2. Encourage Exploration Opportunities
Cats have a natural inclination to explore new places and objects. You can take advantage of this trait by leaving out items your kitty can investigate. Simple everyday items like paper shopping bags (with the handles removed) and cardboard boxes can pique her curiosity. Additionally, consider investing in a cat condo or strategically placing scratching posts around the house.
3. Provide “Cat TV” Access
While you may find entertainment in television shows, your cat likely prefers observing the great outdoors. Her favorite programming might involve watching a family of wrens in your cherry tree or the next-door neighbor walking her Corgi every day at 3 p.m. Ensure she has unobstructed access to windows, and consider adding perches when needed. You could also hang bird and squirrel feeders outside the windows she frequents the most. Indoor viewing can also captivate cats, especially fish aquariums or even mechanical aquariums with simulated fish swimming across a screen. Specialized cat videos featuring close-up footage of birds and rodents might also catch her attention.
4. Set Up “Hunting” Opportunities for Food
Rather than letting your cat graze on her food all day, which can lead to overeating, engage her in “hunting” for her meals. Hide food or place it in food-dispensing toys. You could even consider using a timed food dispenser to keep her on her toes during mealtimes.
5. Allow Supervised Outdoor Time
While the outdoors can pose risks for your cat, controlled outdoor experiences can be delightful for her. You can teach your cat to walk on a leash for a safe outdoor adventure. Alternatively, you can create or purchase an enclosed room, crate, or tunnel that allows her to experience the sights, sounds, and scents of the outside world without roaming freely. Ensure your cat is on heartworm preventative and up-to-date on vaccinations before venturing outside with her.
6. Engage in Interactive Playtime with Your Cat
The most enriching play involves you! During daily play sessions, your cat will experience both intellectual stimulation and physical activity. Consider activities that tap into her hunting instincts, such as using toys that resemble prey, like rodents, and moving them towards and away from her so she can “catch” them. Wand toys also provide an excellent opportunity for hunting-style play, keeping her mind and body active.
Embracing Creativity: Other Activities and Tricks to Explore
There are numerous other activities and games you can enjoy with your cat. You might even decide to teach her a few tricks, like giving a high five. You’ll be amazed at the creativity both you and your feline friend can display! Ultimately, the key is to provide your cat with engaging activities that promote her happiness, health, and contentment.