Feline Wellness

What is Enrichment and Why do Cats Need It

March 05, 2024

Everyone can use a little more joy in their lives and cats are no different. While your cat may have a comfortable life with plenty of meals, warm blankets, and cuddle sessions, they may be a little bored or under stimulated. This is where enrichment comes in. Enrichment focuses on improving your cat’s physical and mental well-being by providing stimulating and engaging environments, activities, and experiences. Enrichment is essential for promoting their natural behaviors, preventing boredom, and maintaining health and happiness - basically it’s providing outlets for your cat to be a cat!

There are many forms of enrichment, but here are a few examples:

  • Interactive Play: Toys that engage a cat's hunting instincts or provide challenges and allow the two of you to play together.
  • Climbing Structures: Cats love being high up. Providing cat trees or cat shelves gives them opportunities to climb, play, jump, and observe their environment. You can get really creative and add sisal poles, bridges, or tunnels too.
  • Hiding Spots: Cats love a cozy nook where they can retreat, feel protected, and observe their environment. 
  • Puzzle Feeders: Wild cats don’t just get their food handed to them. They need to hunt for it. Domesticated cats should have to “hunt” for their meals sometimes too and puzzle feeders are a great way to get their brains working. 
  • Outside Time: Enclosed catios or walks on a leash can be great opportunities for enrichment. Supervised access to the outdoors allows cats to see and smell new things and get some fresh air. 
  • Cat TV: Videos made just for cats of nature, especially birds and squirrels can keep cats engaged and entertained without going outside.

And here are a few ways enrichment helps keep cats satisfied and happy:

  • Boredom Deterrence: Cats need stimulation in their environments so they don’t get bored. Boredom can lead to undesirable behaviors like overeating, knocking things over, chewing cords, or being aggressive to other cats in the home. Providing enrichment opportunities keeps cats curious and content.
  • Exercise: Play and exploration are important for maintaining a cat's physical health and for just letting them have fun. Interactive toys, climbing structures, and opportunities for play mimic the activities they would naturally engage in outdoors. Wand toys, cat trees, and laser pointers can get your cat moving. Don’t forget to actively play with your cat. Don’t just hope they play and exercise on their own. They want to play with YOU!
  • Mental Stimulation: Cats are very intelligent animals that like to solve problems and learn new things. Puzzle feeders, lick mats, and treat dispensing toys stimulate their minds, keep them occupied, help prevent cognitive decline, and promote a sense of accomplishment.
  • Behavioral Problem Prevention: Lack of stimulation can lead to stress and anxiety in cats, which can then lead to behavior issues like not using the litter box or over-grooming. Enrichment helps cats feel satisfied, at ease, and safe in their environment, which reduces the likelihood of stress-related behavioral problems.

Enrichment is essential for ensuring your cat leads a fulfilling life. In the wild, cats spend their time exploring, hunting, and solving problems. For domestic cats in a home, it's very important to give them outlets to practice these behaviors. Providing new enrichment opportunities is key to ensuring your cat’s physical and mental needs are met.

Love, Nala