What Is Cat Enrichment? The Ultimate Guide To A Happy Cat

If you’re wondering what is cat enrichment you’ve come to the right place. In this post you’ll discover all about enrichment and why it’s essential for a healthy and happy cat.

Whether you have a young kitten or a golden oldie, you must ensure she has the best quality of life. This is particularly important if your kitty spends all her time indoors.

What Is Enrichment?

Enrichment by definition means improving the quality or value of something. However, it also means giving quality of life to animals in captivity.

Zoos enrich animal’s lives by providing them with ways to live a more natural life. These encourage interaction with surroundings, such as exploring and foraging.

Providing animals with an enriched environment stimulates natural behavior.If you’ve ever seen penguins playing in pools, or dolphins doing tricks you’ll know what I mean.

At it’s most basic, enrichment simply means giving an animal something to do. Without this you’d have some very sad and depressed inmates in zoos!

Why Your Cat Needs Enrichment

grey cat playing with colorful toy

applies to all animals taken out of their natural environment. This includes your cat if she spends much of her time indoors.

Cats with access to the outside world get plenty of enrichment. For example, chasing leaves, climbing trees, or even terrorising next doors dog!

However, if you have a single cat with no playmates, you’ll need to provide plenty of entertainment. This doesn’t mean giving access to the tv remote, or Ipad!

Your cat is a highly intelligent being and talented problem solver.If you’ve watched your feline companion figure out a way to do something you’ll know exactly what I mean.

If you work from home your kitty will have you for company. However, if you go out to work and leave her on her own all day you’ll need to provide enriching activities.

These include;

  • Sensory
  • Cognitive
  • Social

Sensory enrichment

Sensory enrichment for your cat means making the most of her senses. Just like us, cats have the same 5 senses. These are sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Stimulating your cat’s senses can provide an enriching experience for her. You can do this through play even if you’re not at home.

Although your cat has the same senses as you, she uses them in very different ways. For example, sight is used in hunting prey. Though her vision is different to yours, she uses it very well in stalking and catching prey.

Sight

what is cat enrichment-sensory enrichment

Stimulate her sight by playing with a feather wand. These are very inexpensive and found in most pet stores or online.

Choose colors to attract your cat’s attention. These include yellow, blue and green.

As your cat is unable to distinguish red and pink colors, these can be confusing. This is because cats have fewer cones in their eyes.

In addition, your cat is near sighted, so holding a toy too far away means she’ll have trouble seeing it. Just wave the feathers in front of her and she’ll enjoy jumping and pouncing.

Sound

Giving your kitty toys that make a sound are great for stimulating her prey drive. These can include squeaky felt mice, or birds that chirp!

Cats have extraordinary hearing that’s far superior to humans and dogs. In addition, the ability to swivel their ears makes them very much like satellite dishes!

Your cat can hear a mouse squeak up to thirty feet away and a storm approach before you even hear the first rumble of thunder.

Taste and smell

Cats have a phenomenal sense of smell that’s 14 times greater than human’s. This provides a powerful tool in hunting and tracking prey.

Your cat is used to bowls of food without the need to forage or hunt. While this is great it doesn’t stimulate her hunting instincts.

Arouse this natural instinct by providing an indoor hunting feeder. You can get ones such as Doc & Phoebe’s Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder that encourage your kitty to work for her food!

This not only relieves boredom, but gets your cat exercising. Obesity is becoming more common with pets and providing enrichment through food hunting games helps.

Touch

cat enrichment-cat rainbow tunnel

A cat’s sense of touch is felt through it’s entire body including whiskers and paws. In fact, whiskers are super sensitive allowing your cat to judge distances and navigate.

Provide your feline friend with a variety of textures to enrich her sense of touch. For example, scratching toys including cardboard and sisal covered poles. In addition, cat tunnels make excellent sensory experiences.

Cognitive Enrichment

As mentioned previously, cats are natural problem solvers and highly intelligent. Unless stimulated with games to encourage hunting and foraging, an indoor cat can become bored.

Puzzle toys can provide hours of fun for your feline family. These not only help relieve boredom but reduce aggressive behavior as well.

You can get a variety of puzzle toys for cats that sharpen cognitive skills. These include food puzzles and games such as tower of tracks.

Any type of puzzle game that stimulates your cat’s hunting instinct provides an enriching experience. In addition, her problem solving talents are put to the test!

Social Enrichment

what is cat enrichment-social enrichment

Social enrichment for cats simply means spending time with another animal without fighting. If you have a multi-pet household then all will hopefully enjoy a socially enriching experience.

However, not all cats become friends though most learn to get along ok. In addition, some dogs are even scared of cats!

Encourage your fur family to bond by providing a few toys they can play with together. In addition, human interaction also counts!

Spend quality time playing with your cat each day for bonding and social enrichment. Also stroking and cuddling your kitty benefits both of you.

Not only does it soothe and relax your cat, but makes you feel calmer and lowers blood pressure. No matter how busy you are, just a few minutes of your time spent interacting with your cat makes all the difference.

Top 6 Best Enrichment Toys For Cats

The following 5 cat toys are those I believe to be best for enriching your cat. These are based purely on research, my own opinion and customer ratings.

ImageTitleLatest Price
doc and phoebe indoor hunting cat feeder Doc & Phoebe’s Interactive Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder Latest Price
frisco plush cat teaserFrisco Plush, Teaser, Ball & Tri-Tunnel Variety Pack Cat Toy with Catnip Latest Price
LKJYBG Cat Catnip BallsLKJYBG Catnip Balls, Interactive Cat Toy with Smart Trigger Latest Price
flospoint wicked ball cat teaserFlospoint Wicked Ball Interactive Cat Toy With Real Sounds Latest Price
awoof catnip toysAWOOF Catnip Toys for Indoor Cats, Natural Catnip Kitten Toys Cat Toys Set Latest Price
smartycat electronic hot pursuitSmartyKat Hot Pursuit Electronic Concealed Motion Cat Toy Latest Price

Best Enrichment Toys For cats

Here’s a detailed look at 6 of the best enrichment toys for cats, to help keep your feline friend happy. Whether you have one cat or a houseful, they’ll encourage activity and relieve boredom.

Doc & Phoebe’s Interactive Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder

doc and phoebe indoor hunting cat feeder

Doc & Phoebe’s hunting cat feeder enriches all your cat’s senses. It simulates a real hunt by providing 5 BPA free plastic mice that hold food.

Each mouse has holes for filling with your cat’s favorite kibble. As they’re blue in color they stand out, making easy prey!

As mentioned earlier, cats see blues and greens far better than other colors. By hiding them in places around the home your cat will use her sense of smell, sight and touch to retrieve the food.

She’ll need to claw and tear at the mice just as she would in the wild. This is great for arousing her hunting instincts as well as encouraging exercise!

You’ll need to be aware though that only dried food can be used. This means you’ll still need to provide wet food at regular mealtimes.

You may have to train your cat to use them at first, but once she gets the idea she’ll soon be catching her prey! You could try sprinkling catnip on the mice to encourage her.

Some buyers found the holes too big. However, this s easily remedied by fixing a bit of tape across them if need be.

Key Features

  • BPA free plastic
  • Simulates real hunting
  • Enriches all your cat’s senses
  • Easy to clean
  • Dishwasher safe

Average rating 3.9 out of 5

You can buy Doc & Phoebe’s Interactive Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder
here

Frisco Plush, Teaser, Ball & Tri-Tunnel Variety Pack Cat Toy with Catnip

Frisco variety pack provides you with 20 different toys for your cat. Each one is designed to enrich your cat’s senses with crinkly balls, pom poms, catnip filled toys, fuzzy mice, feather wands, and tri-tunnel.

The good thing about this play kit is it’s great for either a single kitty or multi-cat household. This means you can easily share the toys between your fur family members.

As you get so many different textures this will stimulate your cat’s sense of touch. In addition, catnip makes some felines hyperactive and skittish! Not all are sensitive to it though.

As the play tunnel is a tri design it gives your cat space to play or have a quiet nap. In addition, as it’s blue it will be more visible to your kitty.

Please be aware that kittens don’t show any sensitivity to catnip until around six months old. They’ll happily play with the toys though, but won’t be affected by the aroma!

You should always supervise your cat during play sessions as toys aren’t indestructible. String, or small parts can be swallowed causing choking.

Key Features
  • 20 individual toys
  • Stimulates all senses
  • Ideal for one or multiple cats
  • Variety of colors and textures to enrich sight and touch
  • Catnip filled toys to encourage play

Average rating 4.8 out of 5

You can buy Frisco Plush, Teaser, Ball & Tri-Tunnel Variety Pack here

LKJYBG Catnip Balls, Interactive Cat Toy with Smart Trigger

LKJYBG Cat Catnip Balls
LKJYBG Cat Catnip Balls

This set of 3 interactive balls have real animal sounds including cricket, bird, and frog. In addition, bright colors are designed to catch your kitty’s attention.

In order to create a lifelike hunting experience the balls only make a sound when touched. This mimics how prey would react in real life!

In addition, catnip is added inside each ball to further enrich your cat’s play experience. Also, it’s easy to add fresh catnip by opening a small compartment on each one.

Key Features
  • Durable
  • Non-toxic EVA plastic
  • Lightweight
  • Bright colors to attract attention
  • Makes real animal sounds when touched
  • Each ball is filled with catnip
  • Batteries included

Average rating 4.6 out of 5

You can buy LKJYBG Catnip Balls, Interactive Cat Toy with Smart Trigger here

Flospoint Wicked Ball New Cat Toys Sounding Interactive Smart Automatic Cats Toy Electronic

flospoint wicked ball cat teaser

Flospoint interactive cat ball is designed to move on it’s own randomly. This mimics how real prey moves encouraging your cat to stalk and chase.

In addition, brightly colored feathers, sound, and flashing light ensure your feline friend doesn’t miss this moving target! Also, as the feather is detachable you can remove it if desired.

Key Features
  • Random movement mimics prey
  • Flashing light and sound to attract attention
  • detachable feather
  • On/off switch for sound
  • Batteries included
  • Encourages exercise

Average rating 3.6 out of 5

You can buy Flospoint Wicked Ball Interactive Cat Toy With Real Sounds here

WOOF Catnip Toys for Indoor Cats, Natural Catnip Kitten Toys Cat Toys Set

awoof catnip toys
awoof catnip toys

Woof catnip toys are made from durable, non-toxic material. This ensures your cat’s safety as they can take a lot of chewing and biting.

You get 6 individual toys in bright colors to attract your cat’s attention. From pink lolly to blue carrot, and yellow pineapple, your kitty will have plenty of fun pouncing and batting these toys.

As each one is stuffed with catnip they’ll hold your cat’s attention for longer. However, they can’t be refilled.

These are suitable for indoor cats of all ages and will provide enrichment, preventing boredom and encouraging exercise. As not all cats are sensitive to catnip there’s no guarantee your cat will.

Key Features
  • Safe non-toxic material
  • Granular velvet and soft cotton
  • Bright colors to attract attention and easy to find!
  • Fun shapes
  • Filled with catnip

Average rating 4.2 out of 5

You can buy WOOF Catnip Toys for Indoor Cats here

SmartyKat Hot Pursuit Electronic Concealed Motion Cat Toy

martyKat concealed motion toy is designed to simulate natural movements of prey. This encourages your cat to stalk and pounce as she would when hunting in the wild.

Concealed motion toys provide enrichment for indoor cats of all ages. This not only stops boredom but gets lazy kitties moving!

As this SmartyKat toy has different speed settings you can control the action! This provides great fun for both you and your feline friend.

Key Features
  • Different speed settings
  • Mimics movement of prey
  • 2 interchangeable wands
  • Durable fabric skirt
  • Moving lights to attract attention
  • Stimulates hunting instinct
  • Great for encouraging exercise
  • Replacement wands available
  • Tested to child safety standards

Average rating 4.1 out of 5

You can buy SmartyKat concealed motion toy here

Final Words

I hope this article has answered your question “what is cat enrichment?” As you’ve discovered, it’s beneficial for all animals taken out of their natural environment.

From zoo animals to indoor cats, providing games that simulate natural habitat keep them happy and healthy. These encourage foraging, hunting, and even nest building!

All the toys I’ve shared here can help provide enrichment for your indoor cat. This is especially important for single cats, and if you’re out at work during the day.

If you’ve enjoyed this post and found it useful please share. Also, if you have any questions or would like to share your experiences, leave a comment below.

Wishing you a purrfect day:)

Kathy

10 thoughts on “What Is Cat Enrichment? The Ultimate Guide To A Happy Cat”

  1. Thanks for sharing this post, Kathy! I agree with you. Most indoor cats NEED enrichment in their day-to-day lives because they never get outside. Luckily, we let our cats roam around the neighborhood as much as they want so they basically sleep all the time when they are inside. If they get playful inside the house, that’s usually when they ask to be let outside. However, if I ever raise a pure indoor cat, I’ll get Doc & Phoebe’s Interactive Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder because it’s a brilliant idea. Nothing motivates cats more than food and with this toy, they get to exercise and eat! Awesome. Thanks again for sharing and keep up the great work with your website.

    Reply
    • Hi Ivan, yes, indoor cats need enrichment to keep them happy. Luckily, I live in a nice peaceful area, and my cat comes and goes as he pleases. I leave the window open all day allowing him to please himself! I agree, Doc and Phoebe’s indoor hunting game is the perfect toy for enrichment. It stimulates a cat’s hunting instinct and provides motivation to find food! Plus, encourages exercise. Glad you enjoyed this post, and thanks for stopping by:)

      Reply
  2. Enriching our pets life is essential to their health wellbeing. I grew up with a cat and the playtime together was always the best part of the day. We had some homemade toys and some toys we bought for him, but it was always the homemade toys that were his favourite.

    Now we have a dog, and it is the same with her. It is the homemade toys that she plays with. It is kind of funny that a strip of knotted toilet paper is the favourite one together with our socks. It was the same for our cat, toilet paper and socks.

    What I didn´t know, even if we had a cat while i grew up, is that they are nearsighted. That explains some of our cat’s behaviour..

    Regarding the catnip toys; should a cat owner be worried if their cat swallows material from the toys if their filling comes out?

    Reply
    • Hi Roy, yes, isn’t it funny how cats and dogs often prefer homemade toys. A piece of screwed up paper can often hold great fascination! My own cat often ignores the toy mice I bought him in favour of a piece of string dropped on the floor lol! Yes, all cats are nearsighted which is often why they don’t always see treats or toys placed right up close. In answer to your question, I don’t think a small amount of material will hurt and would probably get passed through. However, always look for toys made from non-toxic material just in case. Thanks for stopping by:)

      Reply
  3. These are definitely great tips for helping with the cat’s personal development. This is because these are aspects that people hardly talk about when it comes to cats.
    I know my aunt will be happy to read this since she just got a cat a month or two ago and knowing her she is quiet clueless about such things.
    I think your whole site will be helpful for her.

    Reply
    • Hi Thabo, glad you found this post useful. Yes, not everyone realises how important it is to provide an enriching environment for indoor cats. I’m sure your aunt will enjoy the article and thanks for sharing it with her:)

      Reply
  4. Thank you for such a wonderful and inspiring text! I enjoyed reading because I love animals very much and you write about them with a lot of love and dedication. I don’t have a cat, but my friend does. It’s wonderful that you’re talking about enriching the lives of our furry friends because they enrich us too! Both animals and humans need love, intolerance, play, and socialization. I think that it is not enough just to have a pet for fun, but to provide him with the best possible quality of life. There are no such interesting toys in my country and I am really thrilled! I especially like the LKJYBG Catnip Balls,
    Frisco Plush, Teaser, Ball & Tri-Tunnel Variety Pack Cat Toy with Catnip and Doc & Phoebe’s Interactive Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder. Prices are also very affordable. I think my friend will really like this because her cat is pretty bored in the apartment. I will recommend this article and the entire site to her! Keep the great work on your website. Greetings!

    Reply
    • Thank you for your kind comment Danijela and so glad you enjoyed this post:) You are so right that need cats need socialisation and love just the same as us. Enrichment is a great way to provide play and stimulate a cat’s instinct to hunt and forage. Glad you like toys I shared and I’m sure any one of them will be perfect for your friend’s cat:) Thanks for stopping by:)

      Reply
  5. Hi Kathy,

    It’s good to see that you bring up cat enrichment, so cat owners will understand that they can’t leave their cats at home without providing them with enough entertainment or activities to engage in. When I imagine myself left out at home without things to do, I’ll feel sad. So, does cat!

    I love the Flospoint Wicked Ball so much since it moves randomly to encourage cats to chase, just like hunting for food. Not to mention the colored feathers, flashing lights, and the sounds. I will buy this for my friends’ cat once her birthday approaches.

    Thanks a lot for sharing those brilliant ideas. 🙂

    Matt

    Reply
    • Hi Matt, thank you for your reply and glad you enjoyed this post:) Yes, cats are able to get bored just like us. Being on your own all day with nothing to do is bad for both cats and people. The Flospoint Wicked Ball is a great choice and would make the perfect present for your friend’s cat:)

      Reply

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