While trapped in quarantine and stuck in the same place day after day with no outside interaction, you may realize what it’s like to be an indoor pet. Although your cat probably prefers staying home to socializing, your dog can become bored spending all day looking out at the same scenery. With boredom can come a host of medical and behavior issues, such as separation anxiety, overgrooming, and feline idiopathic cystitis. Invigorate your dog or cat’s life and spice up their daily routine with the following five indoor enrichment ideas.
#1: Ditch your pet’s food dish and feed from a food puzzle
Does a never-ending buffet sound delightful? While a constantly full food dish may seem vital for your pet—especially to your cat and their 4 a.m. wake-up call for food—it can lead to obesity and many weight-related conditions. Not to mention, cats are not meant to eat one or two large meals a day. And, while dogs did descend from wolves who ate large meals when they could, today’s modern dog has a different digestive system. For your pet’s digestive, mental, and overall health, ditch the food dish and switch to food puzzles. Choose from rubber Kongs, snuffle mats, or LickiMats, and each day change up the food, whether canned or dry, to encourage your pet to work for their meals. Cats can hunt 20 times per day before they catch enough food to be satisfied, so give your pet plenty of opportunities to stalk and pounce, and work to remove their prey from the puzzle. Interactive and robotic toys can hide pieces of kibble, while you can stuff a Kong with canned food and fresh fruits or veggies. Try different combinations and puzzle options to ensure your pet is never bored.
#2: Use vertical space to keep your cat entertained
Providing vertical space in your home is critical for your cat’s mental well-being. As both a predator and prey species, cats prefer to survey their territory for potential threats or prey from high, and their mental health will suffer without access to climbing towers, cat shelves, or lookout perches. Design a kitty playground with climbing and resting areas, and place towers by favorite windows for a soaring viewpoint. The more vertical space you can use in your home, the fewer behavior problems you’ll notice in your cat.
#3: Create an indoor agility course for your pet
Physical activity is as important as mental enrichment for cats and dogs. An excellent way to incorporate exercise and training games into one fun activity is by creating a dog or cat indoor agility course. While you may think your cat will not be bothered to tackle an agility course, you’d be surprised what the right reward can accomplish. Lure your pet around the jumps and obstacles with a feather wand, squeaky toy, or high value treat, rewarding them for a job well done. Slowly phase out the lure and work on faster times, and you’ll be impressed at how quickly your pet picks up the ins and outs of agility.
#4: Try out a scent game for your pet
Nosework is a great mental enrichment activity for dogs, and you can try it for your cat, too. Start by hiding a strong-smelling treat in a simple place, or in plain sight. As your pet sniffs out the snack, they also discover their reward. Pair the treat’s discovery with a cue, such as “Find it,” to encourage your pet to continue looking. Gradually make the game more difficult but continue to use strong-smelling treats to help your pet sniff out their reward.
#5: Invest in interactive toys for your pet
Although you wish you could stay home and play with your pet all day, somebody has to go to work to make money for neat pet toys. Fortunately, interactive, robotic toys can play with your pet while they’re home alone, encouraging physical activity and mental enrichment. Robotic mice that zigzag throughout your home will keep your cat entertained, while an electronic ball launcher is the perfect toy to set up in a long hallway for your dog. Determine the toy type that will engage your pet the most, and you’ll be met by a content furry pal when you return home.
If you’re searching for a veterinarian in Metairie to care for your pet’s mental and physical health, look no further than Animal Medical and Surgical Hospital. Contact our team to schedule your pet’s appointment for their wellness and preventive care.