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A cat happily playing with a toy indoors.
Pet Blog

Cat Enrichment Ideas to Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy

Indoor cats enjoy a pretty cushy life, but let’s be real—staying home all the time can get boring. Cat enrichment is essential to keep cats engaged, active, and happy! Here’s how to get started.


Enrichment is a term that describes how we can add stimuli to an animal’s environment that caters to their natural instincts to hunt, forage, and more. Enrichment activities contribute to an animal’s physical and emotional wellbeing, and are essential for any animal—not just those kept in captivity. Though this care technique first became popular in zoos, pet owners are learning that enrichment can be just as valuable for our pets as it is for lions and tigers.


There are three types of enrichment that your cat needs to thrive: environmental, social, and cognitive. All three are essential to keeping you cat entertained, mentally stimulated, and all-around happier. Who doesn’t like the sound of that?


Environmental Enrichment

Outdoor cats experience environmental enrichment as they explore the world around them. With every new rock to climb, plant to sniff, and squirrel to chase, outdoor cats keep on their toes. For indoor cats, enrichment requires continually adding new, exciting things to your cat’s environment to let them experience that same journey of discovery.


Cat Toys

Adding new cat toys into your home for your cat to discover instantly adds excitement to their day! Offering a variety of toys, from lasers to ribbons to toy mice, simulates having a variety of prey to hunt in the wild. But don’t feel like you have to hit up the pet store every week to keep them happy —cats love a good DIY cat toy just as much as the store bought stuff. We know from experience that some cats will decide that a ball of scrunched up tin foil is their favorite toy in the whole world!


Cat Furniture

Cats are naturally inclined to find all the best vantage points and hidey holes to stay safe—and be ready to pounce. They should find just as many places to explore in your home! Cat trees provide vertical space for them to climb and hiding places for them to hunker down in.


You can also easily create your own kitty hiding spots! Cut holes in corrugated boxes from your latest cat food delivery, and boom—instant cat castle. Some cats prefer a classic paper bag to cozy up in (and probably pounce on your toes as you walk by).


Scratching Posts

Scratching is a strong feline instinct which can be difficult to tame. Your best bet is lean into it—provide opportunities and surfaces for your cat to scratch other than on the arms of your couch. A variety of horizontal and vertical scratching posts will help them keep their claws trim as well as give them a chance to stretch their limbs.


Take Them Outside

Giving your cat safe and controlled exposure to the outdoors can fulfill a great deal of their desire for exploration. Some cats can become pro leash walkers—with a little practice, your cat might level up from walks around the block to hitting the trails with you! Other cats might prefer the comfort and security of a catio or another contained outdoor space, so they can take in all the sights and sounds of the outdoors and still feel like they’re right at home.


Bring the Outside In

There are easy ways to give your cat a taste of the outdoors without ever taking them out the door. Bring in boxes of natural materials like leaves, pinecones, and more for them to dig through. You can even hide cat treats inside to encourage foraging behavior! Try growing cat grass to let them chow down on cat-safe fresh greens.


You also shouldn’t forget the benefits of giving them a good place to watch the world go by—a good cat hammock on the window or cat bed right on a window seat could become their new favorite place to sit and watch the action at the bird feeder.


Social Enrichment

Household cats can’t get all their enrichment by their lonesome! They need partners in play, grooming, and more to help them develop their social skills and feel safe and loved in their home.


Play with People

Most cats love to play, and playing with your cat can be hugely beneficial in keeping them (and you!) active, as well as building closer bonds between the two of you. A play session with a laser pointer or a good old fashioned game of fetch provides more excitement than solo play. Keep them on their toes as you keep things unpredictable—they won't know what to expect!


Downtime Together

Bonding together doesn’t have to be all high-speed games of chase—sometimes it looks like cuddling up on the couch together and giving them head scratches. Grooming is an essential cat behavior, and mutual grooming is a way to show affection and trust. Petting or brushing your cat (and possibly receiving some licks in return) is the feline equivalent of a trip to the nail salon with your BFF. It’s a time to kick back, relax, and take care of each other.


Animal Playmates

If you and your cat share your home with other pets, those animals are likely to be a huge part of their social life. Canine and feline playmates can play, roughhouse, and run wild in a way we humans can’t fully recreate. Having more than one pet can be of great benefit to your cat's social life—they’ll be constant companions even when you have to leave for your workday, providing a friend for play, wrestling, and cuddling up for a good nap.


Cognitive Enrichment

Cognitive enrichment includes all the things that really make your cat stop and think. From solving puzzles to nailing a new trick, testing your cat's problem-solving abilities helps them flex their thinking muscles and keep their minds sharp.


Puzzle Toys

Cats have to hunt for their prey in the wild, and they can work their brains just as hard by solving a food puzzle to find their favorite cat treats. Store-bought cat enrichment feeders have all sorts of nooks and crannies to hide tasty kibble or treats in, but you can easily DIY your own with toilet paper rolls or a muffin tin.


Foraging

Another enrichment idea for food-motivated cats is turning snacking into a scavenger hunt! Hide small cat kibble or treats in different spots around the house and let your cat put their powerful nose to work in finding them. Once they learn the game, they’ll be raring to go whenever they see you break out the bag.


Training

Dogs aren’t the only ones who can learn cool tricks! With a little patience and positive reinforcement, you can train your cat to do just about anything with a little positive reinforcement.


You can teach your cat to mimic useful behaviors, like calmly tolerating nail filings and taking medication, or teach them tricks, like "talking", sitting, or offering you a paw on command. (So cute!) Many cats are responsive to clicker training, and you can’t go wrong with incentivizing good behavior by offering high-value, tasty cat treats as a reward.


Cat enrichment is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your feline best friend! It keeps them busy, curbs bad behavior, supports their mental health, and builds a stronger bond between you and your pet.


Still, don’t feel like you have to tackle all of this at once. Introducing new enrichment opportunities every so often will keep things fresh and prevent both you and your cat from feeling overwhelmed. You’ve got a whole world of new games and activities to explore together—have some fun with it!


P.S. Follow us on social to get fresh enrichment ideas in your newsfeed!