Bored at home during quarantine? You may not be the only one. You might think your cat's sulking because you moved her food dish one millimeter to the left, but despite our fussy felines' infamous ability to seem superior and blasé, there are many signs that a cat may genuinely need more enrichment.
Myths about cats
Myths about cat independence abound, from "Cats are easier than dogs. They don't need as much attention!" to "Cats are just standoffish." In reality, cats are extremely social animals that can become bored, aggressive, and destructive if they're left alone all day without appropriate interaction. If you have a cat who's fighting, biting ankles, scratching or marking furniture or other unwanted behaviors, a lack of enrichment could be the culprit.
What is enrichment?
All animals require outlets for expressing their natural behaviors in healthy ways, and your little lions are no different. Cats are still miniature predators who need appropriate ways to interact with their environment as they would in the wild. Moreover, they need both physical and mental enrichment to keep them happy and healthy, so you want a mix of activities that challenge their brains and their reflexes.
Enrichment in a small space
In a small apartment, you might be wondering how to provide the best enrichment for your cat. Fortunately, two of the best ways to enrich cats are with toys and treats—items that give you an opportunity to with your cat at the same time.
Cat toys like feather wands and strings will send your cat darting and dancing around the room, while catnip mice will lead your pet on an exciting chase that also engages their sense of smell. If you use a laser pointer, just make sure to let your cat "catch" a physical mouse or other "prey" item to end the game and give them a needed win.
Treats are also an excellent motivator, as anyone who's witnessed a cat leap couches in a single bound when they hear the crack of a can opening will attest. A great way to enrich your cat while you're at work all day is to hide treat balls around the house, making your cat "hunt" for its food. Bonus: changing the treat locations daily gives your cat much-needed variety.
If you're stuck coming up with new forms of cat enrichment that work for your space, be sure to check in with your local pet store for advice, inspiration, and (of course) more cat treats!