Use these 9 quick and easy pet enrichment tips from DVM360 to put the “play” back in “playtime”
1. Spread the love with the right resources. Every house should have the number-of-cats-plus-one ratio of these resources: scratching posts, elevated spots where the cats can go and litter boxes.
2. Use cheap DIY toy enrichment ideas. Toys don’t need to be expensive. Here are a few suggestions you can use to get started on the right paw:
• Get paper bags instead of plastic at the grocery store. Cut the bottoms out, tape them together and voila! You have a cat tunnel.
• Before you recycle that Amazon Prime box, leave it out for a couple of days for your cat to hide in and bat around, or hide a tasty treat in the box and let your dog or cat figure out how to get the treat out of the box.
3. Think outside the bowl when feeding pets. “Contrafreeloading” is an observed behavior in many species. The premise: If given a choice, an animal prefers the food that requires effort.
Cats could benefit from something like Doc & Phoebe’s Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder (https://docandphoebe.com, previously sold as the No Bowl Feeding system), an indoor hunting feeder, where you fill the feeder, hide it, and then you cat hunts for it. There’s an ever-growing variety of toys for enriched feeding, or you can accomplish the same concept with a toilet tube roll: fill it with kibble, twist the ends, cut a couple of holes in it and let the cat hunt.
4. Cats need enrichment to prevent behavioral problems and obesity. Although many families are under the impression that cats don’t need enrichment, especially in comparison to dogs, bored cats are stressed cats (and stressed cats do things like pee on beds!).
5. Only leave a few toys out at a time, and rotate toys every couple of days. Pets get bored with the same old toys. (Looking for toy recommendations? Check these out.)
6. Look for outdoor enrichment opportunities. If your indoor cat is interested in outdoor enrichment, consider building a “catio” or check out Cat Fence-In, a fence accessory that is designed to keep your cats inside your fence, and other cats out. Safe spaces outside offer kitties a chance to enjoy a stimulating variety of sounds and smells.
7. Make enrichment a fun game for you too! Humans can enjoy the dopamine boost of playing just as much as cats and dogs, so check out this list of fun ways to up the ‘play’ factor at your house.
8. Walk that dog! The most overlooked enrichment for dogs is a walk. Letting the dog out into the yard isn’t the same as going for a walk. Dogs in yards get bored and can develop reactive behavioral problems. Everyone’s encountered the dog that rushes the fence and give you a heart attack every time you walk by–he’s not enjoying life either! And make sure to give the dog some time to be a dog–loosen the choke hold on the leash and let them sniff.