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

Unprecedented times


What really does that mean?  The dictionary says; without previous instance; never before known or experienced; in examples or unparalleled.  There’s a lot of truth in that definition.  I can’t remember a time in my life except for when I was a teenager and grounded to the house that I was told I couldn’t go anywhere, couldn’t visit friends or family, couldn’t go to work or couldn’t go shopping even if it was to window shop.  Sheltering in place is really like being grounded.  You get agitated cause although you have a pile of books to read, lots of TV to watch, movies to choose from, social media (didn’t have that when I was a kid), homework to do, cleaning, the list goes on, you just can’t seem to focus on any of it. Why?  Because what is going on in our world is unfreakingbelievable.  That’s my word, well one I heard somewhere and took as my own.  So, instead of reading the books, watching the tv or doing the homework, I have been praying for the heroes in scrubs, the people I don’t even know that have the Coronavirus and those that are making sure we have food and toilet paper.  Why?  Because THEY are being extremely inconvenienced, THEY leaving their family behind to help those in need.  THEY aren’t complaining about their kids being home learning virtually or that they can’t go shopping, they aren’t complaining to all of their friends on Facebook about how hard they have it right now.  They are just doing what they never signed up for, putting their lives in danger to save others.  

As I write down these thoughts that have been going through my head for several weeks now, it makes me realize even more than I did before I started that it can always be worse.  I try to live my life in appreciation for those around me and for the life I have been given.  Like many of you, I went to the thoughts of how the COVID-19 is going to affect me.  As humans, we are made to think of survival first.  It’s just natural.  Don’t beat yourself up if you went out and hoarded all of the toilet paper, paper towels and kleenex you could get in the first few days of this pandemic.  But, do share with others that may need it now.  As a small business owner, my dream come true shuddered for a few weeks.  As the cancelations flooded in, understandably so, the tears flooded out of me.  The survival human in me kicked in and panic set in my guts.  Compiled on top of that came too much time on my hands, not normal for a busy entrepreneur, which gave for more time to think and worry.  Time to think about how I got to where I was in my entrepreneurial journey of 7 years, 9 months.  The sweat, tears, long hours, joy and love that got me to where I am today.  Add in the news, people complaining on Facebook about how rough their lives are now and the financial impact, both mine and the world.  

Where did this all take me?  Back to where I started pretty much.  3:28 am and not changing a thing.  And, that’s ok.  Life has changed.  And, I’m blessed.  If you are reading this right now, so are you.  Because you have time to read it.  Maybe you’re working at home now for your job and took a break.  Maybe you’re helping your kids learn virtually and got a little break while they do some work on their own.  And, maybe you are in the same spot I am, all of the sudden, you have a ton of time on your hands.  No matter what, you are blessed.  Thinking of my blessings every day has always nurtured me.  That doesn’t mean every day is rainbows and daisies.  It’s a work in progress.  One day at a time is how I got to my life today.  Is it perfect even when everything is going great?  Nope.  But, showing up every day for me is number one.  Then, I can give to others which is my favorite thing to do.  

One of the many reasons that I am in the business of providing service is because that is what I’m good at.  I absolutely love making people and their pets happy.  It’s a win-win for me.  I have a special connection with furry animals, one that is really hard to explain in words.  I have had many clients share with me that their pet has never liked a person when first meeting them as much as they seem to like me.  It’s music to my ears. Fuel to my happy fire.  Which brings me to the connection with pet parents, providing them peace of mind, sharing that special bond they have with their furry family, caring and loving their fur babies while they are away.  It’s a gift that I am thankful for daily.  Even today when I am not seeing many of them, I am grateful.  

Reflecting they say is a way to see what you may not see when you are in the trenches, doing the work and being what you set out to be.  It’s good for the soul and  mind, especially now.  So, if you are struggling to get through your days, however much or little they have changed, take time to count your blessings.  Think back, through the hard times and the good times.  If you pray, spend a few moments praying for those that are less fortunate than you.  Those that are putting their lives in danger to keep you and your family safe.  Or, maybe those on their last square of TP.  :). Just remember that it could always be worse.  You are not alone.  We are all in this together and we will get through this together – paraphrased from our Governor Andy Beshear who is rocking our worlds here in Kentucky.  We are blessed.  We are sheltered in place, there is help for whatever we may need right now, reach out if you need something.  Be safe and be well.  


How to Introduce your Dog to a Cat


A dog and a cat, is it possible?

Sebastian the dog and Liberty the cat love each other.

Dogs and cats… each makes a terrific companion for you, but they don’t always live in harmony together. You’ve probably heard the expression “fighting like cats and dogs” before, right? While that can certainly be true, there are steps you can take – starting with the first introduction between the animals – to foster a loving relationship.


Body Language

Before you schedule the first meet and greet between your two pets, learn their body language cues.

Happy cats will purr and rest with their feet tucked under their bodies, maybe with their eyes half closed. They’ll rub up against you and act with an overall calm demeanor. Cats who are agitated will pin their ears back or puff up their tails. They may growl or shriek, or roll onto their back or side so that they’re ready for an attack, bearing their teeth and claws.

Happy dogs will be loose in their body and tail, maybe with a tongue hanging out. They may be playful, but will alternate between a chase and be chased posture. Dogs who are displeased may stiffen their body or tail, fixate on the other animal, and stare. Dogs may also bark and whine if they’re upset.

While these are standard body language cues, your pet may have a unique signal for you to watch out for, so be sure to know what the warning signs are before you schedule an introduction.


Making the Introduction


When it comes time to make the introduction between your animals, there are a few different options to consider.


Cats really do love dogs most of the time

Liberty will even stand on his head for Sebastian.

Desensitizing Your Dog

In some cases, your dog will be so fixed on the cat that you’ll need to desensitize them so that you can make a controlled introduction. This usually starts with sequestering the cat in a room so that the dog can get used to the cat being in the house, while creating a bit of separation. Set the cat up in a bathroom or spare bedroom with all of their needed supplies (water, food, litter, toys, blankets). Feed the dog right outside the door, so they begin to associate positive rewards with the smell of the cat. After a couple of days, swap the blankets of each animal with the other animal’s bedding so that they can continue to get used to the smell of the other animal. Slowly start to let the dog see the cat without getting to the point of overstimulation, so that by the time they are both allowed to be free in the same room, the dog is disinterested or otherwise not excited by the new animal.


Face-to-Face Introduction

If your dog has a naturally calmer demeanor, you can try a face-to-face introduction right away. Keep the dog on a leash and let the cat walk around the dog, getting acclimated. If the cat’s body language stays calm (see body language above) and the dog is able to remain controlled, responding well to commands and direction from you, perhaps even lying down, then the dog should be rewarded for ignoring the cat. Ultimately, the goal is for the cat to be close to the dog, sniffing it even, without eliciting a reaction from the dog. If the dog lunges, this method likely will not work right away and you should try desensitizing it before making another introduction.


Professional Training

If after desensitization and a face-to-face introduction, the dog is still unable to remain calm around the cat, it’s best to consult a professional, certified trainer to discuss a more structured training regimen for your dog. This doesn’t mean that the two animals will never be able to live in harmony together, but you will need to keep them separated until you know they’ll be safe when left alone together.


Pet Sitting for dogs and cats is fun

Sebastian and Liberty are buds, it makes Sebastian SMILE when he sees Liberty




Happy 6th Birthday Waggs 2 Whiskers!

Banny is a love bug momma's boy that makes do when we come and care for him when she's away

June 4, 2018 – Happy 6th Birthday Waggs!


I never thought that living a life doing what I love would ever happen. I was in a job for 19 years in an office, I loved it at first, I liked some of the people I worked with but after about 10 years, it started to become a toxic environment – so I found out later. I decided to start volunteering at our local animal shelter in 2007. I sometimes say it was by pure luck that I met my new friend Sabrina who was taking pictures of the dogs there for Petfinder. She was pregnant with twins and needed someone to fill in until after the babies were born. So I decided to try it out. I loved animals and always had from the time I was a toddler! I got to spend time with most of the animals and take their pics and write their bios on Petfinder. 


Five years later, at my kitchen table, Waggs 2 Whiskers was born! Some people thought I was crazy! I knew exactly what I was doing and where it would take me. The thought of spending my days with the dogs and other furry pets was so exciting! I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to build my business enough to be able to run it full time. Four years later I was at that spot. Was it an easy decision? NO! But it was the perfect time for ME! I cannot believe I have now been running my business 2 years full time! 


Waggs 2 Whiskers is a dream come true!  I feel I am making a difference in pet parent’s lives! And their pets!!  That is so important to me! I love making people and pets happy! The past 6 years have been amazing! I’m looking forward to the next 6!


Thank you so much for letting me live my dream!  I owe it to all of you reading this RIGHT NOW!!

Kelly Catlett

Proud Owner of Waggs 2 Whiskers, LLC 

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