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Happy Cats

April 16, 2012

It’s very common at modern zoos to have enrichment programs for the animals that live there. These programs are ways to enhance the lives of the animals and give them much needed exercise and mental stimulation. It’s not only zoo animals that can benefit from enrichment activities though, our everyday pets can as well. Today I hope to give you some ideas of how you can help your indoor cats be even happier cats.

While cats that live outside have many opportunities for exploration, hunting and ‘normal’ cat behavior, the fact that the average lifespan for an outside cat is less than five years while indoor cats live an average of 12 to 18 years is more than enough reason for most pet owners to want their cats to be strictly indoors. There are things we can do to help replicate the great outdoors in an indoor setting though.

Cats like to hunt; it’s what they’re genetically wired to do. While most of us don’t want to have small rodents or birds flying loose in our house for our cat to chase, there are other options. There are many types of fishing poles with toys on the end made for cats. Laser toys are very popular with many cats as well, as they can try and catch the elusive red dot. Chasing these toys or the laser will help them get much needed exercise. Small furry toys or balls are fun for cats to chase and attack as well. The addition of catnip will add extra appeal for some cats.

Cats like to climb and while we can’t make our homes larger than they already are we can add vertical space. Cat trees come in a wide arrange of styles and colors. They can be covered with carpet, sisal rope or even large branches for our cats to claw and play on. Many cats love just to zoom up and down a tall cat tree as they play. If you have bookshelves in your home, you can leave a shelf clear except for a towel or blanket for an upper story kitty bed. Even cats that are declawed will often appreciate having a cat tree to climb and sleep on.

While it is easiest to feed our cats out of a bowl, it isn’t required. If you have a bored kitty, you can use a variety of different products such as the Slimcat Treat Ball ™, Kong Wobbler ™ or even feeding balls made for small dogs to put your cat’s dry food in. Your cat will have to roll the ball around to get the food to fall out. It may take a bit for some cats to get the knack of the toy, but with patience many cats will figure it out.

Another easy idea for giving your cat something to do is placing a bird feeder outside of a window. If there’s a platform or some other area the cat can sit and watch, so much the better. While she won’t be able to get to the birds, many cats enjoy watching them anyway.

These are just a few ideas to adding enrichment to your cat’s life. Spend a little time finding out what your cat likes to do for fun and be creative. You’ll both be happier for it.

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