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Feline Enrichment Series Part 4

Feline Enrichment Series Part 4
Feline Enrichment Series Part 4
Feline Enrichment Series Part 4

Feline Enrichment MATTERS – Feeding enrichment & prey drive

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 & also Part 3 – Cognitive and Sensory Enrichment.    

If you missed any of them, go to our website at this link:  https://www.waggs2whiskers.com/blog/

NOW, it’s time for Part 4 – Feline Enrichment MATTERS – Feeding enrichment & prey drive.  Also, how as a pet sitter we can HELP provide this enrichment during our visits with your kitty. 

First, let’s talk Feeding Enrichment:

If your kitty cat seems to be less interested in their food than normal, before thinking something may be wrong, try some of these ideas to make sure she isn’t just bored.

  • Ration their daily food by hiding it throughout the home to give them a chance to search and use their prey drive to find their food. As we learned in Part 1 of this series, cats have an excellent sense of smell and they will search out for food.  Just keep an eye on your hiding spots to be sure they are actually finding and eating it.  Then, you will know if it’s boredom or if they are losing their appetite for some other reason. 
  • Put their dry kibble and/or treats in a container of some sort or even a paper towel roll or TP roll and let them reach in and get it out. It’s not only fun for them but us as well.  Nothing better than watching a cat jump and roll around, better than TV anyday.
  • Food puzzles – You can find these in your local pet store but you can also make them! Try googling some homemade cat puzzles, lots of great ideas from things you have around the house and maybe some duct tape.
  • Snuffle mats – These are really cool and if you don’t know what they are, go to this site – these are handmade by an amazing small business – http://www.beansnbones.com/product/snuffle-mat/ These are normally made for dogs but are great for cats as well since their food is small and treats as well.  They will love it!
  • Frozen chicken broth or milk – consult your veterinarian before offering the milk, some veterinarians may suggest against it. But, if you freeze chicken broth in an ice cube tray and then put one on a plate for your kitty to lick on, this also offers enrichment to their day.
  • Slow Feeders – they have some mats, some are called lucky mats, that you can put wet food on to offer the kitty enrichment during eating rather than them just gulping it down in one sitting.

Think SIMPLE, you may think it’s really not going to make a difference but it truly does to your kitty, it’s kind of like a human having the same thing to eat day after day and never changing up what we eat or how we eat it.  Think about it, it would be very, very boring!

Cat Prey Drive:

A cat has a natural prey sequence:

1 – Stare

2 – Stalk & Chase

3 – Pounce & Grab

4 – Kill Bite and Bunny kick

A feline’s natural prey are rodents, insects, reptiles and birds.  When looking for toys for them to play with think of these preys. 

  • Try some kicker toys, battery operated interactive toys.
  • Interactive wand toys that you can play with them like one called Da Bird. You can get a 3’ or 6’ wand with a string that you can change the attachments on – there are feather attachments, birds, mice, rats, items made of deer fur, insect lures, cat charmer and worm teasers. How cool is that?  You can just switch out the toys for playtime. 
  • For shy, slow or senior cats – Try a cat charmer fleece wand, cat dancer cardboard, wire toy with long peacock feather or fuzzy worms.
Martini the cat and our owner Kelly

Cat sitting at Martini’s house is so fun

How WE can help as a pet sitter:

One thing about cats that most of us know is that they get stressed when their routine changes.  It’s sometimes hard to see this stress but knowing your cat, even the slightest change can bring the stressers out.  Which is where we as kitty sitters can swoop in and help!  The social interaction is the most important piece.  Social kitties are usually first to meet us at the door and we love that.  We talk to them and pet and scratch them, we can also provide brushing.  

Some kitties aren’t interested in making new friends.  From what we have found, we can develop a relationship over time with them if they want to accept us.  And, we are happy to try anything. 

We suggest leaving their toys out, allowing us to play with them, we can provide enrichment in all of the ways we have spoken of in this blog series.  And, we are happy to provide this service as part of our cat sits.  Sometimes, if your kitty is shy and just wants to observe us, we are happy to talk to them and even read a children’s book to them to allow them to get used to our voice and our mannerisms.  We allow them to get to know us at their pace. 

But, if they want to play, we just ask our clients to let us know where the toys are, we love to play.  We can also set up some tents for them to play in while we are away.  We can also provide feeding enrichment for them after playtime to give them something to do while we are not visiting.  We always put away and toys that aren’t suggested to be left out with kitties unsupervised such as wand toys or bags that have handles that they could get caught up in while at home alone.  Safety first is very important to us.

Just to sum up our series, in two words…Enrichment Matters!  Feline Enrichment allows for expression of natural behaviors and helps to reduce stress.  Providing enrichment for your kitty can build a lasting and positive relationship and help to avoid any negative behaviors. 

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!  I have truly enjoyed providing this series to you.  Please let me know what you think and if you have any questions!

Kelly Catlett

PROUD owner of Waggs 2 Whiskers

Medicine Hat
Ferragamo getting his belly brushed

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