Keeping Things Interesting For Your Cat

This morning, as I was pondering writing this post, I was surveying my house. Yesterday I and my family had returned from a short trip and there were pizza boxes littering the kitchen (traditional post travel dinner), bags and packages from shopping trips on the table and an open suitcase on the floor of a foyer, the result of me hastily retrieving my running shoes for this mornings run. As soon as the suitcase was open, two of our families three cats immediately surrounded it with great curiosity. They began rubbing their faces on the case and jumping into the pile of clothes to investigate the contents further. There was sniffing, digging, burrowing, rolling, playing and resting to be done and they took their time, tiring of the mysterious box in about 30-45 minutes, although it has been revisited, just to be sure something had not changed, throughout the morning hours. fullsizeoutput_b29.jpeg



My cats fascination with my well traveled suitcase is an excellent example as to why pet owners need to remain aware of the necessity of environmental enrichment, a commonly used phrase among feline practitioners and advocates, but it really applies to all of our animal companions whether it is your cat, dog, parrot, bunny or tortoise. We all need to remain aware of our pets need for entertainment and variety within their daily lives. 



Let’s consider my cats and their suitcase fascination. Often when I speak to the owners about their cats activity level they tend to laugh and say, ‘Well, they mostly sleep’. However that isn’t really true. Sure they nap frequently, but every cat has a routine, places they visit through the day, windows they peer out of, etc. Outdoor cats certainly are far more active (although they too nap, this is the origin of the phrase ‘cat nap’) and often their activity revolves around eluding predators, defending territories, and finding food. However, more and more cat owners choose to try to maintain their cats indoors to avoid injury (predators, other cats and cars) or infectious diseases, all of which can lead to shorter life expectancies for outdoor felines. My families cats are strictly indoor inhabitants for exactly those reasons. However, along with keeping them safe there comes additional responsibilities. Providing them with good food, a safe environment and some fluffy cat beds is not enough.


Cats still require the level of mental and physical activity provided to their outdoor counter parts. Although the outdoor cat is more active out of necessity, cats have evolved skills and mental abilities that still need to be exercised even if they are safely indoors. My cats investigation of an open suitcase is an good example, each cat explored the novel object in a different way and even once it was visited, they would return and discover new aspects previously unappreciated. However, if I chose to leave the suitcase in the same place for a day or two it would no longer be enjoyed on the same level and probably would become a big cat bed.


Did you ever wonder why your cat enjoys sitting in the window? It is because it is an ever changing channel on a TV that never has re-runs. At our house we say that the cats are ‘reading the paper’ when they sit at the window ~ getting all the news about the neighborhood for that day. 


So how can we keep our cats lives well balanced with activities and novelties that keep life interesting? I visited Pinterest to get some ideas and was really impressed by all the inventive options available on that one site. 


  1. Outdoor enclosures: 





The patterns for designing the enclosures are available on line. Some people even modify prefabricated chicken coops. The cats can have a change of pace and enjoy watching birds, bugs and squirrels, and get fresh air, but remain safe from outdoor dangers. 


2. Bring the outdoors in: 







3. Exercise and novel locations:

Believe it or not some cats really enjoy running around. Although I have not known anyone who has tried one the treadmills shown below, I do know a few cats I think would enjoy one! 




Novel locations are vitally important for cats sanity. They need spots that are their own, away from noisy children, barking dogs and, yes, at times their owners and other cats. Cubby’s and nooks where cats can rest undisturbed are an important component of the cat friendly house




If you think  your cat is lazy or boring, you might need to look more closely at how exciting a cat owner you are and try some different approaches. Providing some different activities for your cat may show you aspects of their personality of which you were unaware. 









Posted on June 18, 2017
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