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Ask the SPCA: Indoor cat enrichment

July 3, 2016

Question: My indoor cat seems bored. How can I make my home more cat-friendly without it looking like a cat jungle gym?

While dogs are content to live at ground level with their social group, cats use space differently. To meet a house cat’s needs in our homes requires us to think like the ancestral cat.

Cats evolved as independent-minded forest hunters, designed to leap, balance on thin ledges and branches, and right themselves in a fall. As daring, agile predators, they used surprise and quickness to capture their quarry. Trees were used for safety, rest and observation.

Today’s house cats retain their agility and climbing instincts, yet we expect them to adapt to our ground-level way of life. This despite the many times we are compelled to rescue them, balancing precariously on the tops of bookcases, kitchen cupboards or staircase banisters.

If your cat is bored, try adding stimulating and challenging vertical places for your cat to explore. The trick is to maintain a stylish home while allowing your “cats to be cats.” No one does this better than cat behaviourist Jackson Galaxy. Galaxy and co-author Kate Benjamin have two books – Catification and Catify to Satisfy – packed with creative solutions for creating a visually appealing, cat-friendly home.

If you are handy, the books have examples of decorative do-it-yourself shelves, poles and walkways that provide a means for your cat to move around your home along the walls. Creating shelves (even some a little wobbly), nooks and walkways instantly doubles the enrichment value for your cat.

If you aren’t handy, the books have design ideas using store-bought shelves, bureaus and even couches with cat tunnels. Don’t stop with just adding vertical spaces. Satisfy your cat’s primal hunting instinct by splitting up food rations and hiding small amounts around the house. Put treats in a cardboard container with paw holes to provide a new challenge. Introduce new objects such cat toys, a tree branch or cat grass to stimulate smell and touch. There are so many commercially made products at pet supply stores that can bring the curiosity back out in your cat.

For more tips on cat care and behaviour, check out our cat pet care section.

 

 

The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.