Hills Veterinary Clinic kittens

Environmental Enrichment for Indoor Cats

Many people like to keep their cats inside to protect them and the environment. We must remember however that indoor cats are prone to several conditions such as obesity and stress related disorders which are a result of altered behaviour. To try and keep our indoor cats content and healthy we need to understand how they would normally behave if allowed free access outside.

Sleep & rest

The typical cat will sleep/ rest for 15 hours a day. Cats are more active in the morning & evening. Indoor cats should have various places designed for cats to rest & for them to hang out (eg. perches, rugs, chairs, extra bed, boxes, cat hammock etc) If you have more than one cat make sure there are lots of places for cats to isolate themselves from each other.

Grooming

This takes up to 4 hours a day. The most important function of grooming is social interaction with other cats & owners. Indoor cats that don’t have a companion to groom them often rely on their owners. Various different brushes are available. (Some cats don’t like it so watch out for the signs). Cats usually concentrated on grooming each others head/ neck so make sure you concentrate on these areas.

Hunting

Outdoor cats hunt for 4 hours a day. If all food is available in a bowl there is no need to hunt. You can use hidden bowls, puzzle toys, elevated bowls so they need to jump up, different types/ shapes of bowls & water fountains.

Traveling

This normally takes 50 minutess a day. Provide ramps, stairways & other climbing opportunities. Cats like three dimensional space so elevated resting platforms are ideal.

Play

Your cat may play with your other pets but if not they need to play with you. There are various different toys available so find which your cat likes best. Fishing toys, small balls & laser lights or torches are a good place to start.

Scratching

Cats may have specific preferences for substrates. You need to make scratching posts desirable so scatter with catnip & provide vertical & horizontal surfaces. You also need to make the sofa etc undesirable- try motion sensors or smelly sprays and double sided sticky tape on surfaces can help.

Visual, auditory, olfactory and gustatory stimulation

Posh words for seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting!

In other words cats that go outside get a lot of stimulation from the environment which changes regularly. Cats need visual stimulation – window seats, windowsills, fish tank, videos of birds, fish & bugs all provide something for your cat to look at.

Auditory stimulation- so toys that make a noise, ping pong balls in the bathtub or down the tiled hall, crackle balls or toys with bells.
Olfactory stimulation- catnip is available in various forms or try fresh herbs stuffed in toys.

Gustatory- Chewing on grass – you can grow grass in pots for cats to chew which they love.

Everyone's home has limitations to what can be achieved but by trying to incorporate some of the above ideas you will help to keep you cat happy and healthy.