Navigation

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

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:  https://www.waggs2whiskers.com/feline-enrichment-series-part-1/

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

Martini
Ferragamo
Lily the beauty

Call Now Button