If you are away from home for a few hours or a few weeks, your cat is bound to notice. Even laid back, lazy cats need something to keep them entertained. Bored cats will often develop “problem behaviors” to keep themselves entertained, like scratching inappropriately. So short of playing with your cat 24/7 what can you do to keep your cat entertained?
1. Cat TV
Most cat owners know the fascination their kitty has with the small animals outside the window, you can easily capitalize on that and keep your kitty entertained for hours. Pick a window you don’t mind turning into your cat’s zone and place a bird feeder within sight, and very close to the window. Fill the bird feeder with seeds and other foods to attract wildlife. Put a cat tree or other area for your cat to sit and watch the bird show.
Just keep an eye on this if you live in an area with free roaming outdoor cats, because they may come to see your kitty and upset her.
2. New Objects
Most pet parents and human parents are familiar with this situation: you buy an expensive, cool new toy and your pet (or kid) plays with the box. While this can be disappointing, seize this opportunity to find new ways to entertain your cat.
Give your cat cardboard boxes, newspaper or non-glossy paper and paper bags. For cardboard boxes, be sure to remove any staples, or other dangerous objects of the box including loose tape. I generally like to use food boxes because they have lots of interesting smells in them too, just make sure there is no actual human food left in the box.
You can give your cat newspaper or other types of non-glossy paper. Most newspaper ink is soy based and is safe for use around animals. You can try leaving the paper on the ground for your cat to step on (it makes a cool noise) or crinkling it into balls for you cat to bat around.
Paper bags can be very fun toys for cats, they can hide in them, bat them around and sit on them. You can use the paper bags from the grocery store (just rip the handles off so your cat cannot get caught in them) or the smaller paper lunch sacks.
3. Hiding food
Wild cats spend most of their time hunting and looking for food. Domestic cats, not so much.One way to keep your cat entertained is to make getting her food a bit hard then just finding the bowl. There are lots of toys on the market for cats that can be used to make your cat work for her food ( think the cat version of a kong). These are a great option. You can also hide food in the boxes, paper and paper bags from above. Use dry food or treats, as wet food can be messy outside of a bowl. I recommend letting your cat watch you hide the food the first few times so that she gets the idea and make the food easy to get to (leave the box open). You can also you strong smelling treats to help your cat find the food more easily.
4. New Smells
Cats, as territorial animals, are very interested in new smells of any kind. The key thing with introducing new scents is making sure that they are not toxic if your cat licks the scented area. Keep in mind that your cat may spray urine on the scented spot to mark over the new smell. If he does this then scents are not a good enrichment option. You can use a variety of smells, food and natural. Something I find works really well is microwaving a hot dog in a paper towel, the hot dog juices will get on the paper towel and you can wipe this on the surface you want to scent, like a cardboard box. You can use a similar method for most types of meat, or use the juice in wet cat food. Herbs are also an option. Most types of mint, like catnip, are safe for cats and some other herbs and flowers are.
This is an incomplete list of some safe plants:
For herbs, you can either rub them on surfaces or place them in satchels (just make sure your cat does not try to eat the satchel).
5. Hire a Cat Sitter!
Just like a dog walker, you can have a cat sitter come to your home and play with your kitties when you are out of town or just busy. Our sitters are experts at making friends with new cats and devising ways to keep them entertained, including bringing fresh catnip that we grow just for our clients. Contact Us to discuss some options that work well for your cat!