Luke has his favorite fur ball toy in his paws. I rubbed a little silver vine on it which helped add some excitement to a toy that he's already played with quite a bit.
Aside from food, water and a clean litter box, cats need things to keep them occupied during their non-sleep hours or boredom may develop. Signs of boredom may include excessively sleeping; overeating; destructive behavior; and over-grooming. Always check with your veterinarian first when you notice behavior changes. Enrichment includes providing cats ways to act out their natural behaviors like hunting, climbing, and foraging. Here are some ideas to try:
Daily Play Sessions: Using a wand toy, create a hunt in your living space. This is a great way for your cat to get exercise as well as mental stimulation by allowing him to strategize on how to get the toy and chase after it;
Food Puzzles: Transition from using a bowl and get your cat foraging for food which is a natural behavior;
Alternate Toys: Keep a covered bin to store toys, and alternate them. Toys should be a mix of inanimate objects (like toy mice or balls); battery operated toys (Petlinks Motion toy is a great one); and wand toys with changeable attachments for play sessions;
Hiding Spots: A safe space is important for cats. Provide boxes or tunnels for cats to hang out in. The carrier works great for this too;
Vertical Space: Cats are meant to climb. Tall cat trees and wall shelves provide both physical activity and a safe spot for cats to view their territory;
Scratching Posts: Are important for cats to be able to leave visual and scent marks, as well as stretch their muscles. Try sisal and corrugated cardboard at different angles (vertical, horizontal, and angled);
Odor Enrichment: A cat’s sense of smell is much stronger than ours. Alternate using cat-friendly scents such as catnip and silver vine.
Teach Tricks: Using positive reinforcement, most cats can be taught tricks such as Sit and High Five. Check out YouTube for training ideas;
Prevent Separation Anxiety: Strategically place toys or treats around your home before leaving for work, giving your cat something fun to do while you’re not around.
Jennifer Van de Kieft is a Certified Feline Training and Behavior Specialist residing in Brooklyn, New York City.