Cat Mental Stimulation

Feb 15, 2024   Tracey Aston   Health & Wellness

Mental stimulation and exercise are just as important for our cats as physical exercise and the benefits are twofold! One, a bored kitty can quickly become destructive and release their pent-up frustrations on furniture, curtains, or even other household pets! Secondly, mental stimulation can slow the progression of aging in the brain, keeping cats' cognitive abilities sharp well into their senior years! Cats are curious, intelligent and inquisitive creatures. They love to stalk, pounce and hunt.  With that in mind, almost anything can be turned into a fun mental stimulation game for them! 

Some mental stimulation games can be bought at local pet stores or from your favorite online retailer. Bunk Bed and Playroom for cats is a box with many different holes and kitty toys attached. Similar to dogs, there are also treat games for cats, like the multi-tier Catit Senses Food Maze.  Cat puzzle boxes where the cat must attempt to remove toys from the box through different holes can be hours of fun for your pet. Puzzle boxes can even be made by cutting holes into the top of a cardboard box, putting your cats' favorite toys inside and taping the sides shut. Make the holes large enough for your cat to fit their paw and toy through, but not large enough to get their head inside to get stuck.

Food motivated games will love a rolling treat ball! A pet parent fills the ball with the cat's favorite treats and the cat must roll the ball around and a small amount of treats will release out of the small holes in the toy. This game can be recreated easily with a cardboard roll, either from paper towels or toilet paper! Fold over one end of a cardboard roll, fill the roll with treats or kibble and then fold over the opposite end to close and give to your cat! You can choose to poke small holes in the roll to make it similar to the treat ball or let your cat figure out how to open the folded ends. Keep in mind, if you are using treats or kibble for mental stimulation, remember to lower the amount of calories during meals, as too many extra treats will pack on the pounds.

Cats love to get up high to survey their territory. Cat trees and shelves can provide hours of amusement for cats and some even come with scratch posts, batting posts and hide away nooks.  Placing several shelves around the same area will provide both physical and mental exercise as the cat jumps from shelf to shelf! 

By far, the easier way to mentally stimulate your cat is a window seat! They will get an opportunity to watch birds and wildlife if facing the backyard or people and pets walking by if the window faces the street. 

This is the age of technology and cats haven't been left out! There are now YouTube channels and other streaming content options created specially to mentally stimulate cats. There are even varieties of shows to choose from – fish, birds or objects and animals floating by on a screen! 

If your cat is trained to walk on a leash – yes, it can happen – a small stroll around the front yard to sniff and stalk will provide immediate mental stimulation for them. Remember flea and tick care if you do take your feline friend outside for stimulation.

Whether puzzles, toys, shelves, cat trees or even a window, allowing cats to keep themselves mentally stimulated will improve their overall health, longevity and maybe even your couch! 

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