Environmental Enrichment for Cats | Dr. Elsey's
cat with toy

Environmental Enrichment for Cats

Cats need to maintain their natural behaviors, such as scratching, hunting, stalking, chewing, and elimination, while living indoors. If deprived of appropriate environmental outlets for these behaviors, they may develop health and behavior problems.

Cats need established routines and a space that is free from fear so they feel like they have control over their environment.  Cats like comfortable places to sleep like fleece beds.  Perch options are also important around the household so they are able to survey their space and feel safe from predators like other cats, dogs and people.

When sharing a room in a multi-cat household cats have a social distance of 3 to 10 feet.  Zone the space with separate food bowls, litter boxes and resting areas; food bowls should be in quiet areas.  Cats prefer to eat several small meals a day and giving them free access to food (free feeding) does not allow them to express their predatory instincts to hunt for prey.  This can lead to obesity and other health issues.  Food puzzles and hiding food make a cat work for their food and can provide beneficial enrichment by satisfying their hunting instinct.  Running water, and pet drinking fountains, may also be very appealing to cats.

Inappropriate elimination issues can be a result of stress/anxiety.  Cats like a non-scented, texture friendly litter.  Covered litter boxes can trap odors and cats often feel trapped in a covered box.  You should have one litter box per cat, plus one, and the litter boxes should be scooped a couple of times a day.  Also, routinely wash your litter boxes with a mild soap and hot water.  Cat Attract® was designed for cats with inappropriate elimination issues and works on a smell and texture premise to bring cats back to the litter box.

Place scratching posts next to your cats sleeping areas since many cats like to stretch and scratch upon waking.  Also, play with your cat each day and provide toys they can chase and stalk.   Rotate toys so your cat does not become bored and provide a food treat to reward them for their hunting behavior.

Help your cats live a more satisfying and natural “indoor” life.

Ref: Environmental Enrichment for Indoor Cats Meghan E. Herron, DVM DACVBa and C.A. Tony Buffington, DVM, PHD, DACVNb The Ohio State University