Between cars on the road and wild predators, living outdoors can be extremely risky for our domesticated house cats. The solution, of course, is to keep our feline friends safely inside. But with no birds to stalk, mice to chase, or yards to explore, cats need other ways to stay active and entertained. That’s where indoor enrichment ideas come in. Enrichment activities are all about stimulating your cat’s body and mind. It’s preventing boredom, providing exercise, and keeping your cat physically and mentally satisfied with life indoors.
If you have an indoor cat, try out these enrichment ideas to ensure their health and happiness.
When cats are outside, they can walk, run, and explore for hours. Even if they’re only doing laps around the yard, there’s ample opportunity for exercise. But inside the house, cats can slip into a sedentary routine. They get used to lounging around and only moving from one nap spot to the next. An exercise wheel is a fun way for indoor cats to get moving.
There are several cat exercise wheels out there. Think of them like giant hamster wheels. Cats jump on, start running, and the wheel spins only as fast as the cat runs. It’s basically a kitty treadmill, and it’s a great option for high-energy cats and cats that need to lose weight. When you first bring it home, use a toy or treat to help show kitty what to do. And once they figure it out, they can exercise any time they want.
2. Cat Grass
You can bring the taste and smell of the outdoors to your indoor cat by growing cat grass inside. Munching on grass is a natural behavior for cats, and indoor cats will appreciate the addition to their safe environment. Cat grass is typically a variety of grasses including wheat, rye, barley, or oat. It’s safe for cats to ingest and gives them something interesting to sniff and nibble.
You can buy cat grass growing kits online and at local pet stores. All you need is water and sunlight, and your cat will have their own organic garden in the safety of the indoors. Pet Greens has great options, learn more about them here!
3. Cat-Specific Furniture
Your cat probably has free access to your living room sofa and all your other furniture, but cat furniture is meant to be interesting and engaging for the feline members of your family. Ready-made cat trees are great examples. They allow cats to exercise their natural abilities to climb and jump.
But if you don’t want to buy an expensive cat tree, most cats are just as happy with cardboard boxes. Other types of cat-specific furniture could include shelves and ramps designed for climbing or jumping. You could also design a kitty window perch perfect for bird watching and sunbathing.
4. Interactive Treat Toys
Today’s cats are used to getting their meals delivered in clean bowls, but they also possess natural instincts to hunt and work for their food. Interactive treat toys encourage those natural behaviors while working a cat’s body and mind. Instead of simply handing your cat a treat, you can make life more interesting by giving them their snack in a puzzle or toy.
There are plenty of treat toys online and at the pet store. You can also make your own puzzles and mazes out of cardboard boxes and whatever else you have around the house. The goal of this enrichment idea is to engage your cat in an activity that keeps them actively engaged and thinking.
If you can’t take your cat into the world, why not bring the world to your cat? Cat TV is a great invention that caters to all our indoor-only cats. There are programs designed for cats on YouTube, and if you have the right subscription, there are entire channels dedicated to keeping cats entertained.
Most cat TV shows are wildlife scenes. My pets love watching videos of squirrels and birds out in nature. Make sure you have the volume turned up so your cat gets the added enrichment of listening to all the interesting sounds.
6. Feline Pheromones
Don’t forget about your cat’s sense of smell when you’re thinking of fun indoor enrichment ideas. Pheromones are chemical scents cats produce for a number of reasons. They help them mark their territories and communicate with other cats. Sniffing these pheromones can be both calming and engaging. You can use pheromones as an indoor enrichment idea thanks to synthetic products you spray on your cat’s toys and bedding.
Feliway is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone. It’s easy to find online and in some pet stores, and it’s a great way to engage indoor cats. All you have to do is lightly spray it in your cat’s environment. Your curious kitty will spend several minutes taking in the scent.
7. Trick Training
Dogs aren’t the only pets that can learn cool tricks. Cats are definitely stubborn, but if you have the right strategy, they’re perfectly capable of learning new skills. You can teach your cat to come when called, to ring a bell, sit, and even roll over. The time spent training will be great for your relationship, and it’s also a good enrichment idea. Trick training uses both your kitty’s body and mind.
Most people successfully train their cats using treats. Use a high-value treat as positive reinforcement and encouragement. There’s no difference between training a dog and training a cat. You just need to reinforce the desired behavior with treats and repetition. Clicker training also works well.
Did you learn anything interesting that you want to try with your indoor cat? Share this article with other cat lovers that you know so that they can learn something, too.