A boring environment can contribute to problems such as destructive behavior, intercat aggression, depression and anxiety. Under-stimulated cats are at risk of developing boredom-related or stress-relieving behaviors such as over-grooming, chewing inappropriate items, picking on companion pets, retreating into isolation, over-eating, self-mutilation, compulsive behavior and loss of appetite.
How can you enrich your cat’s environment?
Your Cat’s Vertical Space
We live in a horizontal world but cats live in a vertical world. Cats often seek out high spots for napping. An elevated location can also become security for a cat, especially in a multicat home. The more vertical space, the more territory the cats have to share. If there’s tension between the cats, one kitty may climb to an elevated spot as a display of status. This can often be the display a cat uses instead of physical confrontation. An elevated spot can also be a refuge for a timid cat.
You can create vertical space with a cat tree. Cat walks and shelves can add to vertical territory. Window perches are great middle ground options.
Cats Need Hideaways
For a very timid cat cut a hole in the box as an entrance, turn the box upside down and your cat will have a complete hideaway. No matter how confident your cat may be, always make sure there are options for hiding in the environment.
Every cat needs hiding places. A tunnel can be a wonderful addition to environmental enrichment.
Separate Feeding Stations
Your cat will still need her regular feeding station. Give each cat their own food bowl. Community bowls can inspire bullying. Additionally, don’t use double feeders with food in one side and water in the other. Food particles can get into the water and make the taste unpleasant.
Litter Box and Scratching Post
Part of creating a healthy environment involves a litter box set-up that is clean, the right sized box and put in a location that’s appealing to the cat.
Scratching is a natural behavior. Supply a tall, sturdy post that’s covered in a rough material such as sisal. Being able to get a good scratch, stretch the muscles and displace anxiety by scratching is a vital part of cat life.
Visual Enrichment for Cats
Outdoor bird feeders can be very entertaining. Set one up near the window where kitty has a perch or cat tree.
Why Environmental Enrichment Works for Cats?
Happy cats live longer. If your cat is active she has a greater chance of staying in better shape. Her muscles get a good workout, her bones stay strong and she’s more likely to develop a normal, healthy appetite.