By Jamey Walker
Do you ever feel like your cat is bored, frustrated, lonely? You leave to go to work and your cat gives you that desperate look. Then you come home and find that your “stuff” is not where it was when you left it. An odd pillow is in the middle of the floor, the garbage has been ransacked, the tattered and clawed up arm of your couch looks extra frayed, the toilet paper is shredded and your prized collection of Beanie Babies are scattered about. It’s like a crime scene that leads back to one very guilty suspect who is rolling at your feet with delight now that you’ve finally come home. Then for the rest of the evening kitty sticks to you like fly paper, even trying to squeeze through the bathroom door when you have to use the toilet (and they often stare at you which can get a bit creepy). Anyway, the point is that your cat is clearly trying to tell you something. So what can you do?
Well,the number one way to keep your cat stimulated is through playtime. Yes, we’ve all heard that one… but it’s true! One trick is to vary the toys that you give to your cat. Avoid giving them all out at one time. Instead select a few toys and switch them out every few days with different ones. And if your cat has a toy that he REALLY loves, it’s wise to put it away after a good play session. This way your cat will anticipate the arrival of this object with extra excitement and as a result get more stimulation out of that play session than they would otherwise.
Set up the space to be as stimulating as possible. Here are some quick ideas on making your home more exciting for your kitty:
Clear out a space near some of the windows and add a ledge (or even a screen for the window as long as it’s securely in place).
Have vertical climbing opportunities for your cat. Cat trees are a good option. In general, they need something sturdy that’s safe for them to climb on and explore.
Add objects for your cat to scratch on. Scratching posts, rug pieces, cardboard boxes, and wood are some great options.
Providing a kitty herb garden for them to chew on can be exciting for some cats. You can find this at most pet stores.
Add home-made toys. Paper bag, crumpled newspaper, wine corks, etc.
If your cat enjoys food and is playful you can think about adding a food puzzle to their day. These are basically toys that allow you put treats or kibble inside. When the cat plays with the toy, some food falls out. It can be a great way to mentally stimulate a cat.
Put on a cat DVD. Some cats really love them! They are specially made to be enticing for cats, with footage of birds, mice, squirrels, etc. Go to http://www.cattv.com/ or purchase a Video catnip dvd at the SFSPCA Maddies Adoption Center!
One last thought: Often, people think that getting another cat will help make their cat less bored or lonely. While it can be stimulating for the right cat, it can also be really stressful for other cats. Not all kitties want a companion, even if they have had previous cat buddies in their lives. Pairing cats can be hard and often depends on the cats individual personalities, the amount of space in the home, and the right introduction process. I advise you to use caution and do some research before making that decision.