Let’s be real – we aren’t all able to take our cats out on adventures as much as we’d like to, which is why indoor enrichment activities for cats and cat enrichment toys are so important.
There are many things that can get in the way of our adventuring desires and plans, but one of the biggest obstacles is weather. Extreme temperatures (either hot or cold) sometimes make it difficult and even unsafe to take our cats out. Even if we are able to take our cats out every day, they still require environmental enrichment and stimulation.
If you’re looking for some new ideas to spice things up for your kitty, we’ve got you covered here with some of our favorite INDOOR cat enrichment toys and activities – guaranteed to stave off boredom and keep your cat engaged!
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Why Enrichment Activities for Cats are Important
Contrary to popular belief, cats require mental and physical stimulation. While they do spend a lot of time napping, they will become bored and even depressed if not given proper opportunity for exercise and play.
Dr. Lynn Bahr says that keeping “cats active, engaged, and entertained is extremely important for maintaining their overall wellbeing…Lack of physical activity and stimulation takes a mental toll on cats, often resulting in anxiety and depression. And it has physical effects as well, which can manifest as serious health ailments.”
In her book, Indoor Cat: How to Enrich Their Lives and Expand Their World, she lists 5 reasons to play with your cat:
- To improve your cat’s quality of life
- To deepen your bond with your cat
- To keep your cat mentally and physically healthy
- To help your cat vent excess energy
- To alleviate problem behaviors like aggressive biting or bullying
Cat Enrichment Toy and Activity Ideas
We know it can sometimes be hard to come up with fresh ideas to keep your cat entertained, so we’ve compiled a list of our 7 favorite cat enrichment toys and activities!
1. Snuffle Mats
A snuffle mat is basically an oversized mat or rug with loose strips, pockets, and pouches to hide your cat’s treats in. Snuffle mats are mentally stimulating, as your cat has to use their nose and forage around all the “obstacles” to find their treats. Though most snuffle mats are marketed for dogs, that doesn’t mean they aren’t suitable for kitties!
Our favorites are the Injoya snuffle mats. They have so many varieties, and they are all super cute. Plus, they can just be thrown in the washing machine when it’s time for a cleaning! My cats also love to sleep on them.
2. Cat Food Puzzles
Like snuffle mats, food puzzles require your cat to think through problems and overcome obstacles to get their food or treats. They are an excellent source of mental stimulation. They also come in a wide range of difficulty levels and styles.
3. Clicker Training with Your Cat
Clicker training is a great source of both mental and physical stimulation for your cat. It’s also fun and has a lot of practical applications – especially if you travel and adventure with your cat. It’s easier to do than you probably think too!
4. Feeder Mice
The feeder mice from Doc & Phoebe are a fun way to give your cat the thrill of the hunt. Or at least close to it. The mice come in a pack of three and can be filled with your cat’s favorite treats or food.
You hide them around your house, and your cat has to use their nose and hunting skills to sniff them out. Even once they find the mice, they still have to work to get the treats/food out.
5. Catnip Toys
What cat doesn’t love catnip? Okay, actually 50% of cats don’t react to catnip… but if your cat is a nip head, giving them a special catnip toy to bat around and play with is always exciting. You can even get a cheap rug and sprinkle catnip on it. Your cat will go wild rolling around on it!
If your cat isn’t a fan of the nip, there are other herbs that may do the trick! Silvervine, valerian, and honeysuckle are catnip alternatives that even the catnip resistant cats enjoy.
The catnip toys in our shop are actually stuffed with a combination of premium organic catnip, silvervine, valerian, and honey suckle. We’ve been told on more than one occasion that even cats who never showed an interest in catnip toys before go CRAZY for our toys!
Bonus: The Jackson Galaxy Catnip Vault Marinater is perfect for letting the toys soak in some extra catnip “flavor!”
6. Cat Exercise Wheel
Though a pricey investment, cat exercise wheels are an excellent source of physical enrichment for cats. If you’ve never seen one before, they are like giant versions of hamster wheels. It does take some training to get your cat to use one, but once they figure it out, they can run to their heart’s content! Perfect for the extra-energetic kitty!
No, not REAL fishing. There are, however, battery powered robotic fish toys that are activated by water. Throw a handful of them into a large, clear bowl and enjoy the show! They will “swim” around, and your cat will be mesmerized. They may even try fishing them out! Hours of fun!
What are your favorite cat enrichment toys?
About the Author
Emily Hall is “mom” to seven cats, one dog, and two sugar gliders. She has been writing in the pet industry for almost 10 years, with a focus on traveling and adventuring with cats. Emily and her husband enjoy hiking, road-tripping, camping, and canoeing with their three cat adventurers. Read more about her here.