Cats Are Skilled At Social Distancing, Yet They Still Need Enrichment
Cats and particularly a stressed cat are masters at social distancing. We should all follow their lead, but cats that are bored or without enrichment can take out their energy on cat and dog siblings. Experts say that cats lacking enrichment can become reclusive and are more likely to retreat from new people or objects that enter their homes than cats who are frequently exposed to a variety of new sights and sounds.
Cat expert Jackson Galaxy says environmental enrichment is “catification.” Catifying your cat’s environment not only makes her happy, but it can also prevent serious behavior problems ranging from scratching and inappropriate elimination to aggression toward other cats in the household.
Cats need to have plenty of toys, places to hide, places to climb, and things to watch. You can easily do this without spending a lot of money and re-purpose items you already have at home like empty toilet paper rolls.
Five DIY Stressed Cat Enrichment Ideas
Some simple and cheap DIY options include cardboard boxes, large paper bags (with the handles removed for safety), and crumpled-up pieces of paper.
- Cut the empty toilet paper rolls into small rings that your cat can bat around with their paws.
- Place catnip or a high-value reward treat inside the toilet paper roll. Fold the ends of the roll to keep the treat inside. Your cat will forage for the morsel (like a puzzle toy).
- You can also hot glue a few of the rings together side by side and put treats and small toys in them for your cat to discover.
Save those paper bags. Remove the handles and use the bag as a place where the cat can ‘hide’ – you’ll find your cat enjoys attacking paper bags!
2. Mealtime Enrichment
- Hide and seek is on! Divide your cat’s meal into two or three smaller meals and hide the kibble in their fave hangouts throughout the house. They will run from spot to spot to find their meal! Endless entertainment!
- Use a cupcake tin and add the divided up meals into each cup. This also serves as a mealtime puzzle toy. The next day flip the cupcake tin over and sprinkle the kibble around the ‘little hills.’ See how long it takes for your cat to find each kibble!
- Hiding treats in the tub is an excellent way to extend mealtime. Make sure the container is dry and clean, block the drain and sprinkle the dry food into the tub and add a few toys!
- felt or fabric
- an iron
- satin or elastic cord, or even just plain yarn or string
- a jingle bell
- a split ring (a miniature key ring)
- Martha Stewart’s feather template
Print the feather template. Cut out one large and one small feather from different colored pieces of felt. Press a crease down the middle of each feather with a hot iron.
Then, slip a jingle bell and one yard of satin or elastic cord — the elastic cord will stretch further, entertaining your playful kitten or athletic cat — onto a split ring. Tie the feathers’ stems to the split ring with a square knot.
4. Include your stressed cat in your homeschooling schedule!
As a parent homeschooling, you’re likely already managing a tight ship. Add your cat to the schedule as the entire family should also be helping with animal enrichment.
- 8 a.m. or breakfast: Try the tub exercise above and have your kids fill it
- 10 a.m.: Take the felt feathers you made from the above exercise and tie them to a string for a game of chase. Have your kids switch off and take turns running around the house so your cat can stretch their legs.
- Lunchtime: Stare at your cat while they nap and give them nap snacks!
- 1:30 p.m.: Time for Cat TV. Play a few YouTube channels for your cat after their nap.
- More mealtime play, but keep dinner exciting and don’t get lazy! Use the cupcake tin for dinner or consider hiding their entire meal throughout the house.
Everyone should be involved while you’re all at home together, so this should be integrated into the homeschool schedule you’ve been slaving over to ensure your family doesn’t break out nerf guns.
5. What about clickr training for your stressed cat?
A little training cannot hurt either. Even five minutes a day.
Training your cat can give her a great mental workout. Just like dogs, cats can learn many useful behaviors and fun tricks, like sit, come when called and shake.
If you’ve ever used a clickr they’re effortless! Watch this video and ask our staff on Facebook with any questions!
All three stores have temporarily changed their hours to keep staff and the community safe. Please check on the website and social media for current hours before you head over to shop!
Also, if you want more information about your cat, Read https://portlandpetstores.com/health-safety/misconceptions-about-cats/
Do you have ideas for stressed cats? Please leave a comment and share your ideas.