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21 Cat Enrichment Ideas and Activities for Anxious Cats

Written by

Olivia Bornemeier, MBA

Many think that cats are strictly independent animals. But, the reality is cats love entertainment and spending time with their owners.

If you have anxious or indoor cats, you may be wondering how you can add enrichment to their day-to-day lives. Good news is, there are plenty of cat enrichment ideas for pet parents.

In this article, we'll cover:

  • The importance of feline enrichment
  • 5 benefits of cat enrichment activities
  • 21 enrichment ideas for cats
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The importance of feline enrichment

The importance of feline enrichment

Enrichment is important to allow your new cat to express their natural behaviors. Cat enrichment can also curb destructive or unwanted behaviors.

In fact, adding enrichment to your cat's environment can give your cat a more exciting life. Enrichment comes in many forms, and pet parents can get creative when adding enrichment to their cat's daily routine.

Cats who suffer from a lack of enrichment may be at risk for more health problems like:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Aggression
  • Destruction
  • Bullying
  • Hiding
  • Overgrooming
  • Depression

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5 benefits of cat enrichment activities

While cats may seem independent, they still have natural instincts that make them enjoy stimulation and enrichment. And, adding cat enrichment activities to your pet's life comes with great benefits.

Check out these five benefits of cat enrichment.

1. It stimulates your cat's senses.

It stimulates your cat's senses

Cat enrichment stimulates your cat's sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch senses. Keeping all parts of your cat's brain stimulated helps promote good health, happiness, and stress relief in cats.

2. It limits destructive behaviors.

It limits destructive behaviors

Showing your cat healthy ways to channel their energy can help limit destructive behaviors that stem from stress and boredom.

3. It provides mental and physical exercise.

It provides mental and physical exercise

Keeping your cat's brain and body exercised keeps them healthy. Pet parents that provide at least 30 minutes of cat enrichment per day keep their cat's brain and body active.

4. It teaches problem solving skills.

It teaches problem solving skills

Cognitive enrichment through puzzles, treasure hunts, and more help teach your cat to solve problems. These skills can help keep your cat safe and out of danger while home alone or in social situations.

5. It keeps your cat healthy.

It keeps your cat healthy

Keeping your pet healthy is the most important part of pet parenting. Overall, if your cat's brain stays stimulated, they will be happier and healthier.


21 enrichment ideas for indoor cats

There are many areas of your cat's life where you can add enrichment ideas. Common types of enrichment for cats include:

  • Physical
  • Cognitive
  • Environmental
  • Sensory
  • Food
  • Social
  • Visual

Before you choose your method of enrichment, experiment to learn what activities your cat prefers. Take note of your cat's favorite toys, their personality, and how they keep themselves busy around the house.

Physical enrichment

Physical enrichment

Like dogs, cats need physical activity to keep them healthy. Ideally, pet parents should give their cat at least 30 minutes of physical enrichment every day.

1. Provide lots of play time.

If you have an indoor cat, interactive playtime can help them exercise and stay healthy. Use your pet's favorite toys and games to boost their physical health.

2. Go for a walk.

Walking outdoors isn't only for dogs — cats also enjoy walking with their owner. If you choose to take your cat for a walk outdoors, keep them safe with a cat harness and leash. If you have an older cat, try a cat stroller.

3. Set up a cat agility course.

Agility courses can help your cat burn physical and mental energy. Hide food or treats inside of the course to keep your cat interested.

Cognitive enrichment

Cognitive enrichment

Mental stimulation is important to keep your cat from getting bored. There are many enrichment ideas that can exercise your cat's mind.

4. Try clicker training.

Regular training sessions with a clicker will not only exercise your cat's brain, but also reinforce positive behaviors. Training helps your cat channel their energy into safe behavior instead of destructive behavior.

Plus, training makes maintaining your cat's health easier. For example, pet parents can train their cat to do tricks, sit nicely during nail trims, or use their litter box.

5. Create treasure hunts.

Treasure hunts are a fun way to engage your cat's brain. For a cat-friendly treasure hunt, try hiding your cat's favorite toys or treats in different locations around the house. Reward your cat with high-value cat treats when they find them.

6. Make a muffin tin cat puzzle.

All you need is a muffin tin, some small fluffy balls, and cat treats for this fun enrichment activity. Place cat treats in the muffin tins and put small fluffy balls or other toys on top of them. Your cat will need to figure out how to move the balls out of the way to get to the treats.

Environmental enrichment

Environmental enrichment

An enriched environment gives your cat the chance to make positive experiences in an enclosed space. If you have more than one cat, enriching your environment can help your cats find a place to relax and play.

7. Invest in scratching posts.

Adding cat furniture that doubles as a scratching surface to your living space is a great way to enrich your cat's life. Scratching posts give your cat a chance to scratch, without damaging your furniture, carpet, or floors.

8. Add cat trees to your space.

Cat trees serve as a place for your feline friend to hang out, relax, and play. If you don't have a cat tree, a window perch is another option for your cat.

9. Build a cat house.

Get creative and make a cat house out of cardboard boxes for your feline friend as another enrichment option. You can even use your PetFriendly box, toilet paper rolls, or paper bags to build your cat house.

10. Buy cat toys.

Most cats have a favorite toy they like to play with. But, make sure you have a variety of cat toys for your cat to choose from. Some common cat toys include:

  • Feather wand toy
  • Treat ball
  • Squeaker toy

Sensory enrichment

Sensory enrichment

If you have already added physical and cognitive enrichments to your cat's life, consider trying sensory enrichment activities. Sensory enrichment targets all their senses to keep them entertained.

11. Use catnip.

Catnip is an easy-to-use, organic compound that can make your cat feel happy, playful, or relaxed. Try sprinkling a small amount of catnip on your cat's toys or scratching post and see if they enjoy its effects.

12. Experiment with silvervine.

Silvervine is another herb that can make your cat playful and happy. If your cat does not respond to catnip, silvervine may be a good option.

13. Place pheromone diffusers in your home.

Pheromone diffusers can help relieve stress, anxiety, and fear in cats. Adding a diffuser to spaces your cat spends time in can help:

  • Promote bonding in new homes
  • Calm cats in stressful situations & settings
  • Reduce litter box aggression in multi-cat households
  • Reduce anxious behaviors like marking, meowing, & scratching

Food enrichment

Food enrichment

Pet parents can make feeding times more engaging and fun with food enrichment. Add enrichment to your cat's meal routine by swapping out your cat's food bowl with a food puzzle or lick mat.

14. Construct food puzzles.

Food puzzles make feeding times more interactive. Puzzles come in many forms and are great for curious cats.

15. Test out lick mats.

For added fun during mealtime, put your cat's wet food on a lick mat. If your cat eats quickly, try using a slow feeder or lick mat to slow them down.

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Social enrichment

Social enrichment

Like canine companions, cats are social animals. Socialization with you, family members, friends, and other animals are important for your cat's happiness and health.

When you spend time with your cat, you give your pet social enrichment. Having a multi-pet household can also provide social enrichment and socialization.

16. Schedule play dates.

Scheduling a play date with other pets can help socialize your cat. If your cat does not get along well with other cats, try having a play date with your friends or family members.

17. Take your cat to daycare.

Pet daycare can help boost your pet's confidence in social situations. And, frequent exposure to other animals can help limit aggression.

Visual enrichment

Visual enrichment

Cats are typically self-sufficient while home alone. But, visual enrichment can help your cat relax and feel comfortable while you're away.

18. Get an aquarium.

Aquariums provide visual stimulation for cats. Cats love watching fish swim around in their tanks.

If you choose to get an aquarium for your cat, be sure your aquarium has a lid. This will keep them from putting their paws into the water. And, keep the aquarium out of reach so your cat does not knock it over.

19. Turn on a bubble blower.

Bubble blowers can keep your cat entertained for extended periods. Be sure to use a safe, non-toxic bubble formula for our cat's bubble blower. Some bubble formulas that are safe for pets use pure catnip oil for extra enrichment.

20. Purchase perpetual motion toys.

Your cat's brain naturally responds to repeating movements. Perpetual motion toys like fidget spinners and flopping fish are great for small spaces like apartments or bedrooms and keep your cat entertained.

21. Hang a bird feeder.

Hang a bird feeder outside a window for your cat to watch and enjoy. Your cat may pounce at the window in an attempt to reach birds, so avoid suction cup feeders that could cause injury or harm to your cat or the birds.

Giving your cat their best life may be a little easier with added enrichment. No matter what type of enrichment activity you choose, remember to keep your cat's safety and happiness in mind.


Author

Meet Olivia Bornemeier

Olivia Bornemeier is a copywriter and photographer by day, dog mom by night to her red lab, Hank. With an MBA from Augustana University, she conducts intentional research and crafts meaningful content to help pet parents stay educated on all things pet wellness.