Keeping cats and kittens happy

Here are some super quick ideas for keeping cats & kittens happy, aka enrichment. Many are free or cheap DIY. It’s all about making the environment fun and using kitty instincts to your advantage. These are especially important for indoor kitties (which is usually my recommendation) and shelter kitties.

outdoor enclosures
To have one if these built, especially a custom job that integrates to your home, can be pricey. From time to time though a company will offer a great deal or you might stumble across little pop up outdoor enclosures on sale (such as on eBay). They are a great way to keep kitty safely away from the street and potential harm, while allowing the freedom to watch birds, bathe in sunlight and such.

cat grass / catnip
Consider getting a pot or two (for rotation) of cat grass. There is usually a specific type they like to chew on or eat. Sometimes you’re lucky that it’s already growing in your yard and you can plant a clump or two (seek advice on type though). Eating grass is not harmful and does not mean kitty is sick or lacking nutrients. Yes, sometimes they regurgitate it and sometimes it passes through – it seems to help keep teeth & digestion healthy.
Catnip is a special herb you can buy from a nursery or some pet supply stores. It makes some kitties playful and some zone out, but not all like it. The fresh plant seems preferable than the dried version or the spray version, but maybe experiment to see what your kitty likes (or doesn’t).
Note: some plants are toxic for cats. If in doubt don’t. Seek advice from a professional.

cat fur-niture
See what I did there? There are all sorts of amazing cat furniture out there. From basic scratching posts to amazing towers, stylised lounges, wall platforms, bridges, tunnels… You’re pretty much constrained only by your imagination and possibly your budget. Basic carpet covered shelves / steps up your wall will make very happy a kitty that loves being high (to laud over his kingdom). Cardboard boxes covered in a t-shirt on the floor give great hidey-holes for cats that love to hide (and ambush). Something to scratch is really important for instinctive grooming behaviours – you gotta shed and sharpen those claws somehow!

cat toys
Again, there’s lots of fancy stuff on the market, but also lots you can do yourself. Flirt poles or fishing toys are great for interactive play, and help fulfil some of that prey drive kitties have – working with them before feeding helps follow the natural cycle of stalk-kill-eat-sleep. Toys that include catnip (see above) can help the playfulness come out. You can make your own with dried catnip, baby socks, cellophane and string – so easy. There’s also toys that are interactive that mean you don’t have to do the work (but they sure are fun to watch!), such as balls or tubes with bells inside, or the mechanical ones. Even the puzzle toys and Kong type toys traditionally thought for dogs are great for cats – put their daily dry food measure inside and let them amuse themselves. I personally like to scatter-feed the dry food, or hide it inside kitty fur-niture to really bring out those hunting instincts.

Cats aren’t necessarily known for their auditory abilities, but they can hear for miles! They have those special swivel ears, right? Avoid sounds that may distress (like cats “singing” Christmas carols), and go with soothing classical or upbeat toe-tappers, depending on the mood you want to elicit. If you’ve got a social kitty, even just the radio can be good, with talkback sounding like company.

Aromatherapy is not just for us. A good enrichment program will cover all senses! Safe scents can be used to encourage exploring and sniffing. Scent and territory are important to cats, so again, don’t use something that may distress.

Let your imagination run wild to make a safe, happy and fun environment for your kitty. It will increase your bond too. Enjoy!

Oh and, call me, I can help.

Photos provided by The Mini Kitty Commune. Check out their Facebook page for kitties available for adoption.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *