January 14, 2023
Environmental enrichment is essential for a happy, healthy cat – it means providing stimulating activities and surroundings that encourage positive behaviour. This is especially important for when you’re working or out for the day.
Bayswater Vets’ team have put together some practical advice for London cat owners on how to keep cats busy and content.
If, after reading our article you would like more advice on cat enrichment toys, or on how to introduce a new cat into your home, our veterinary nursing team will be happy to help.
Why is environment so important?
According to our vet Victoria Seale, an uninteresting living space can be a cause of destructive or aggressive behaviour in cats, and they could become depressed and anxious. Spending hours alone can exacerbate things, which isn’t ideal if you need to work or leave the house for a while.
If your cat is acting oddly but doesn’t seem sick, they might not be getting the stimulation they need.
Signs of an under-stimulated cat
Keep an eye out for boredom-related or stress-relieving behaviours, such as:
- Chewing inappropriate items
- Picking on other pets
- Retreating into isolation
- Compulsive behaviour
- Loss of appetite
- A change in attitude and behaviour to you such as becoming more reclusive
Of course, some of these behaviours might be related to illness – so if in doubt, book a check-up for your cat with Victoria or any of our vets – contact us to book.
Ways to enrich your cat’s environment
Victoria has consulted with the rest of our Alexander Street veterinary team, and here are their top ideas for enriching a cat’s environment:
- Tunnels: Cats love to hide and pounce in crinkly tunnels. To keep costs down, you could make your own from cardboard boxes and wrapping paper.
- Places to hide: Curling up in a small space calms your cat. Safe hiding places include boxes, drawers, and laundry baskets. Beware of dangerous spaces though, such as washing machines and behind electrical appliances.
- Things to climb: Being high up lets cats survey their territory, making them feel safe. Climbing is also great exercise. Distract them from climbing curtains or unstable furniture by providing a multi-perched cat tree or ensuring that bookshelves, wardrobes, and windowsills can be reached safely. You could also check out YouTube for some very creative DIY cat gyms!
- Outside playtime and exploration: Most cats love discovering the outside world. If you’re uncomfortable with letting your cat roam freely out there, why not create a safe enclosure in your garden so they can feel the breeze in their fur?
- Companionship: Some cats are more social than others but, if they seem lonely, considering getting them a feline friend. For tips on how to introduce a new cat into your home, book a chat with one of our friendly nurses – contact us.
- Stimulating games & toys: Make time for playtime when you are at home to entertain your cat and help them channel any predatory behaviour. You can also get a range of boredom-busting games and toys from most pet shops in or near Bayswater, and some online retailers. If you have one of those pet surveillance cameras, you might see your cat playing with these toys and having fun when you’re not around! Not sure what’s suitable? Ask us about cat enrichment toys.
- Digital games: Have you heard about or tried any digital games for cats? Available on Apple and Android devices, there are games available with crawling insects, fish, and flying birds on the screen that will keep cats engaged and entertained for hours!
We hope you found our team’s advice helpful; hopefully you’re putting some of it into action already.
If you have any tried & tested tips that you’d like to share with other cat owners in London, you can always share them on our Facebook page.
And remember, you can always ask our nurses here at Bayswater Vets for advice about improving your cat’s behaviour. Let’s make it a fantastic year for you both!