Feline Enrichment Series Part 3

Turbo the cat

Cognitive & Sensory Enrichment


We here at Waggs 2 Whiskers have been BUSY CATS during this pandemic!  We have been taking advantage of as many trainings as we can push into our brains.  One in particular REALLY put us over the edge about Feline Behaviors & Enrichment.  It was an amazing webinar put on by our wonderful Pet Sitters International (PSI).  They are awesome providing many opportunities for continuing education for their members.  

This is a 4 part blog series (YES….it was THAT GOOD).  The webinar was graciously put on by Dr. Marci Koski of Feline Behavior Solutions.  We are going to break down what we learned into 4 parts for this series:

1 – Cat’s Basic Nature 

2 – Feline Environment, Enrichment & the benefits

3 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines – part 1.5 – toy suggestions/the five senses

4 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines – part 2 + prey drive

We have now released Part 1 on Cat’s Basic Nature & Part 2 on Feline Environment, Enrichment & the benefits of making sure your kitty cat have both available to them.  

If you missed them, go to our website at this link:

NOW, it’s time for Part 3 – Cognitive & Sensory Enrichment – let’s talk TOYS!!! 

Let’s get real, MOST people may think that toys are just for dogs.  NOT true!  Cats need this enrichment, possibly MORE than dogs.  Remember in our talk about cat’s basic nature & their adaptations in Part 1 of this series?  SO mportant for kitty cats!  If you didn’t see this, go back and take a look now and then read on!  Now, Part 3.

Cognitive Enrichment in cats allows them to think and problem solve.  There are many items out there to purchase for your kitty cats but you can also make things at home and offer simple tasks for cats that can help them with this type of enrichment in their daily lives.  Here are some great ideas to use:

1 – Agility courses – YES, you can provide this for your cat!  Get creative!

2 – Commands – Cats CAN learn how to sit, spin and fist bump with training just like a dog!

3 – Puzzles – provide food in puzzles and interactive toys.  You can even put treats in a paper towel roll and let them try to get it out, it’s THAT easy!

4 – Clicker training – cats can learn through clicker training!  Check out this book – Clicker Training for Clever Cats by Martina Braun.  You can also look up ‘clicker training’ on Youtube to see some ways to try it with your cat.

5 – Innovative game – when you want your cat to try something, encourage them and then reward them with a treat like a dog.  They do learn in this way as well.

Here are some play session tips for you to use:

  • First of all, limit your play sessions to 2 per day at about 15 minutes each, one before bedtime is always good if you are looking for ways to get them to rest when you do.
  • Always play before feeding – cat’s normal behavior is in order – hunt, eat, groom, sleep
  • Rotate toys and lures and you can use catnip spray to renew them. But, switching them in and out during play sessions is a great idea to keep them interested.
  • Move lures like real prey items and wind them down at the end to indicate the “death” of the toy, don’t stop in the middle of a wild play time
  • Play with one cat at a time if possible, this gives them the chance to focus on the toy on their own
  • Shy cats may want a slower or smaller toy
  • Don’t forget the older cats, try new things to find what they like to play with
  • Don’t give up during playtime if the cat seems to have lost interest. Some cats may “reset” to the staring phase, it doesn’t mean playtime is over.  And, remember, it may take them a little time to figure out what they like
  • An interesting fact to go with this play session – house cats spend 25% of their day hunting while feral cats spend 50% of their day hunting. Increasing that 25% of house cats closer to the 50% of feral cats will mean you will have a happier, more content cat at home

Sensory Enrichment will offer your kitty cat stimulated senses.  Here is how you can help them to stimulate those 5 senses.

When offering new stimulants for your cat, be sure to BE SAFE and supervise them when in use and put them away when you aren’t there so they won’t get consumed, over stimulated or tangled.  Also, providing those stimulants while you are home can also let you have that one on one time with your cat that they absolutely adore.

Try some of these ideas to help to bring those 5 senses alive in your cat:

  • Other animals on TV or video
  • Laser pointer or flashlight
  • Catnip bubbles
  • Herbs & spices – mint, chamomile, dill, catnip – check to be sure any you use are safe for use with your kitty cat
  • Scents from other animals on a clean rag – if you have outside animals like farm animals – cows, sheep, horses – rub the rag on them and bring it in the house for your kitty to check out.
  • Pine cones, leaves, shells, branches from outside
  • Water, ice cube play
  • Packing paper from your shipments – boxes too!
  • Feathers, antlers
  • Whole veggies or fruits
  • Indoor cat garden – google this, so many great ideas
  • Nori seaweed
  • Music, wind chimes

There are so many great ideas here to offer your indoor kitty cat.  Just pick a few and see what they think.  Providing enrichment for them is a gift.  As we all know, staying in the house a lot can make us want to climb the walls.  So, if your cat is doing that or using destructive behavior or are just bored, it’s time to provide them with some enrichment to spice up their lives!

Thanks so much for tuning in to our Feline Enrichment series!  Next week, we will have Part 4 of our series – Feeding Enrichment!  Come on back and see us then!

Kelly Catlett

PROUD owner of Waggs 2 Whiskers

Lily the beauty

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