Keeping cats emotionally and intellectually stimulated: A recipe for contented kitties

Most feline enthusiasts already know that our domestic housecats – those smaller, cuddlier versions of the big wild cats – are predators by nature. Show a cat a catnip mouse, a feather toy dangling from a wand, or shine a laser beam on a wall and within a few seconds most kitties will be positioning themselves for the hunt; shaking their rear ends, getting to ready to pounce on any moving object that catches their attention.

Kittens are born with an instinctual drive to hunt. Play helps them to hone their skills, develop coordination and timing, and in order to become successful predators, learn to adjust their speed to match that of their potential prey.

Click to enlarge the photo. Photo by Jo Singer
Hush Puppy observes lizard. Click to enlarge the photo. Photo by Jo Singer
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It isn’t morally befitting to provide our cats with live prey for hunting, since it is both cruel and inhumane. Therefore it’s incumbent on guardians to come up with creative substitutes that are far more appropriate. When we give our cats plenty of exercise and playtime through the use of a variety of appealing, interactive toys, it gets their instinctual drives stimulated and met; which results in contented and emotionally fulfilled happier kitties.

It’s crucial to keep our cats emotionally and intellectually stimulated. Recently the term “catified” has become a buzz-word within the domestic feline community. “Catified” is the art of providing our kitties with an enriched environment consisting of cat trees, scratching posts, interesting object such as cardboard boxes in which they can hide. Strategically placed levels of wall shelves are great for them to traverse from place to place. Cats really seem to be attracted to them and they use them freely; especially if there are ever any inter-cat disputes occurring. Jackson Galaxy calls them “feline super-highways”.

If we live with indoor-only cats it’s especially important to give them an opportunity for a “taste” of the great outdoors. There are a wide variety of enclosures for sale at many pet stores and on the Internet. But it’s relatively easy and far less expensive to build one yourself. These enclosures keep cats safe and also give them a chance watch birds, bugs and small mammals scampering through our yards.

Lizard. Cat prey! Photo by Jo Singer. Click to enlarge.
Lizard. Cat prey! Photo by Jo Singer. Click to enlarge.

Dr. Hush Puppy and Sir Hubble Pinkerton spend a huge amount of time looking out of the windows, checking out all that is going on in the neighborhood. So I built a simple window using a sturdy cardboard carton that was the perfect height to fit right under the window. The moment I put their favorite pillow on top of the box, they both immediately jumped up on it and it has become their favorite hangout for taking naps in the warmth of the sun.

Early in the morning a group of squirrels, a few moles and some armadillos show up in our backyard hunting for their breakfast. Our cats are fascinated with their morning “kitty TV” show. They press their noses against the windowpane, making little chirping noises, waving the tips of their tails furiously.

But their favorite “wild” visitors are a group of tiny lizards who are seeking the morning sun to get warm. I get such a kick out of watching Dr. Hush Puppy watching the lizards. His ears go forward, and he gets an intense expression on his face. From his behavior I can feel how much he yearns to get his paws on the diminutive amphibians. But what totally amazes me one particular lizard’s reaction to being watched so intensely. As soon as he discovered a cat on the other side of the glass the lizard started flashing warning messages to him; puffing out his brilliantly colored red throat.

Since this lizard takes his sunbath at our window every morning around the same time, I wonder if the lizard is interested in making friends with Hush Puppy or does he just enjoying taunting him?

How do you enrich your kitties’ environment? Do you Catify your home? Tell us about it in a comment.

10 thoughts on “Keeping cats emotionally and intellectually stimulated: A recipe for contented kitties”

  1. Our cats have been over stimulated since their move to this apartment complex. They are just getting used to the constant hubbub around here. Before they lived on top of a small hill far from the road and isolated from our neighbors by rows of trees. We are back to playing with toys and other little things to keep them happy. They miss their outside enclosure a lot and that is one of the things planned for the rebuild of the house. The cats are more centered on family now that they are used to this place and they love to play.

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  2. It’s available from Amazon and EBay, but check prices; they do vary.

    ABO Gear Happy Habitat Pop Up Mesh Tent Outdoor Cat Pet Small Animal Enclosure

    There’s such a variety of outdoor “playpens” for cats, but most are way out of my price range. But fun to see what’s been designed for our kitty pals.

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