You’ve heard the saying that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste” and that applies to your Feline Einstein as well. Your cat has a remarkable brain and it needs to be challenged, stimulated and exercised to help maintain good mental fitness. Here are 10 tips to help get you started:
1. Play With Your Cat
Engage in daily interactive play sessions where you move the toy like prey so your cat can use her incredible hunting skills. A well-done interactive play session gives your cat the opportunity to plan out her stalking technique and perfect her pounce timing.
2. Make Mealtime Fun for Your Cat
Instead of heaping a pile of food into your cat’s bowl, use puzzle feeders so that she gets the chance to work for food. This feeding method provides entertainment for your cat while keeping her mentally stimulated.
3. Hide-and-Seek Solo Cat Playtime
The solo toys your cat has for playtime (such as the fuzzy mice, balls, etc.) can be strategically placed around the house so she can “discover” them all over again. It helps keep her brain active as she walks through the house.
4. Clicker Train Your Cat
This training method is great for helping with behavior problems but it’s also just plain fun and is a great way to mentally challenge your cat. You can clicker train her to perform behaviors such as giving a high five, jumping through a hope or sitting up on her hind legs, to name just a few.
5. Do Homemade Agility Training with Your Cat
Start with something basic such as having your cat go through a paper bag tunnel and then add to the course with various obstacles. This is a great combination of mental and physical exercise.
6. Prevent Loneliness in Your Cat
For some cats, the addition of a companion cat is a great way to fight loneliness especially when the cat parent is away from home for long periods of time. Having a cat companion to play with creates lots of opportunities for playtime and mental fitness. If you don’t think your cat will do well with another cat, consider getting a dog, if your schedule permits. In terms of the human family, pay attention to your cat and maximize the bonding process. Having a cat isn’t just about providing food, a litter box and shelter. It’s about the human/animal bond. Spend time with your cat.
7. Keep Your Cat Socialized
Begin this early and you’ll have a cat who has an easier time adjusting to change, accepting visitors in the home and enjoying more out of life.
8. Minimize Stress for Your Cat
Address issues that could be causing unhealthy stress to your cat. This could include a tense relationship with a companion pet, being mistreated by a family member or living in unhealthy environmental conditions.
9. Address Your Cat’s Behavior Problems
If your cat is experiencing a behavior problem, address it early and appropriately so her brain can focus on the good things in her life.
10. Maintain Your Cat’s Good Health
It’s Never too Early or too Late
If you have a kitten, now is the time to begin mental fitness training and maintain it as she grows so that you’ll increase her chances of slowing the progression of age-related brain issues later in life. If your cat is already a feline senior citizen, keep her brain active to help slow the deterioration and improve her quality of life. She may not be able to manage the more difficult puzzle feeders but she may enjoy the more basic ones or even just having a schedule of twice daily interactive play sessions. The key to success is to maintain the routine.
Need More Information?
For more specific information on cat training or cat behavior problems, refer to any of the books by Pam Johnson-Bennett.