Environmental enrichment is a phrase that may not be familiar to you but if it’s important that you become familiar with it and what it means to your cat. A boring environment can contribute to problems such as destructive behavior, intercat aggression, depression and anxiety. Under-stimulated cats are at risk of developing boredom-related or stress-relieving behaviors such as over-grooming, chewing inappropriate items, picking on companion pets, retreating into isolation, over-eating, self-mutilation, compulsive behavior and loss of appetite.
Cats Were Born to Move
Your cat has finely-tuned senses. Her ears can move independently and hear sounds that humans can’t. She can pinpoint sound location with amazing accuracy. Her binocular vision has excellent low-light ability and can see in conditions humans consider totally dark. Then there’s a cat’s sense of smell. She can detect odors that we’d never know where present.
Now let’s look at the cat’s body. The cat can jump 5-7 times her height. She walks on her toes for speed and stealth. She’s incredibly flexible and able to perform lightning-quick directional changes. Her whiskers help her navigate in dark environments and also help in detection of prey, among any other functions There are so many other facts about your cat’s body that enable her to have incredible speed, stealth and accuracy.
Imagine having all that equipment and it never gets used. That’s the way it is for many cats. They’re brought indoors (and we want them in indoors) but there’s nothing to do. Cats weren’t meant to be sedentary and eat mountains of food. Cats were born to move.
Why Environmental Enrichment Works for Cats
First, there’s physical health. If your cat is active she has a greater chance of staying in better shape. Her muscles get a good workout, her bones stay strong and she’s more likely to develop a normal, healthy appetite.
Now, let’s look at the benefits you may not be aware of. A cat who has positive experiences usually has more confidence. Fun, safe environment = happy, confident cat. Stressful or boring environment = unhappy, stressed cat.