How to Create an Enriching Environment to Keep Your Cat Happy

A cat happily perching on top of a cat tower

Cats are unique and fascinating creatures, known for their independent and curious nature. Cat parents often wonder about what kind of environment will keep their feline fur baby entertained and content. This is what this guide is all about. 

To ensure your feline friend is not only physically healthy but also mentally stimulated, it's essential to create an enriching environment tailored to their needs. Here are some practical tips to make your home a happy place for a cat!

What’s in This Guide? 

1. Maximize Vertical Space

Climbing to high places is embedded in a cat’s instincts. Climbing is not just physically and mentally stimulating but also gives most cats a sense of safety. This is why many pet parents invest in cat trees, shelves, and perches that offer vertical space, allowing cats to climb and explore. 

When investing in cat trees or cat shelves, make sure to take into account the stability of these structures, whether they are standalone or affixed to the wall. Cats need to be able to climb on the shelves or levels safely. We also recommend that pet parents get cat trees and cat shelves that are easy to clean (i.e. with removable covers or cushions or wipeable surfaces). 

Last but not least, positioning these structures near windows helps satisfy a cat’s hunting instincts while watching birds and outdoor activities.

A cat climbing down a walkway or cat shelf, one of the home additions that can enrich a cat’s environment

2. Interactive Toys & Cat Games

The best cat games engage a cat’s natural hunting instinct in a fun and safe experience. In our article, 5 Fun Games for Cats to Keep Your Cat Fit & Sharp, we talked about various cat toys and games that cats love, including: 

  • Laser pointers;
  • Wand toys;
  • Puzzle feeders; and
  • Tablet games for cats.

Toys like laser pointers and wand toys only provide an interactive experience for cats when their cat parent is controlling the toy. This is, no doubt, a great bonding experience! 

But when cat parents are busy, feline fur babies will be able to entertain themselves with interactive cat toys like puzzle feeders. Tablet games for cats are also a great way to keep a cat entertained (just be mindful of possible screen scratches — and when in doubt, use a spare tablet.)

3. Scratching Posts & Pads

All cats have the instinctive need to scratch, whether it’s to stretch their muscles, to let out stress or excitement, or to keep their nails healthy. Because curtains, floors, and other home surfaces are off-limits, consider getting scratching posts and pads where your cat can dig their claws into. This is not just a way to enrich your cat’s environment; doing so also prevents destructive cat scratching. 

When choosing designated ‘scratch zones’ for your cat, it’s important to get materials that have enough resistance and roughness. A few popular choices include wood, sisal, and even corrugated cardboard.

A cat enjoying a sisal rope scratching post, one of the items that enrich a cat’s environment

4. Consider Getting a Window Perch or a Catio

Cats are naturally curious animals, and they love to observe the world around them. Window perches and catios provide a safe and engaging environment for them to watch birds, squirrels, passing cars, and other outdoor activities. These structures also help cats get sunlight which, among other health benefits, helps them produce a healthy level of melatonin, a hormone that aids in ensuring quality sleep. 

Cat window perches are platform or shelf that is attached to the window frame, where a cat can comfortably sit or lie down. Meanwhile, catios are fully-enclosed outdoor spaces (usually one with access from inside the house), that allow cats to safely spend time outdoors. Catios are usually fitted with other structures inside (e.g. shelves, hiding spots) to keep cats entertained.

When getting a window perch or catio for a feline fur baby, ensuring the stability and safety of the structure is vital. In addition, if you have an indoor cat, make sure that their catio is escape-proof.

5. Set Up Cat Hiding Spots

“If I fits, I sits” seems to be the motto of many cats — and the Internet is full of memes about this behavior, wherein cats find their way into boxes, small containers, and other snug spaces. Many cats like to hide in confined spaces to feel safe and stay warm. Hiding spots are also great for helping cats get privacy when they need it and cope with possible environmental stressors (e.g. loud noises, commotions, etc).

When setting up hiding spots for your cat, make sure that the structure or material is safe for them. Cardboard boxes double up as a scratching surface and hiding spot in one. But if you’re looking to buy a more permanent hiding spot, such as a cat hidey hole or a cat cave, make sure to get one that is easy to clean.

A cat enjoying a cardboard box, one of the simple cat toys that can enrich a cat’s environment

Final Thoughts on Creating an Enriching Environment for Your Cat

Creating an enriching environment for your cat is essential for their overall well-being and happiness. By understanding their natural instincts and providing them with the right resources and stimulation, you can ensure that your feline friend leads a content and fulfilled life!

Ensuring that your cat gets exercise and mental stimulation from an enriching environment is important for long-term health. Another key component of long-term health is preventive care for cats, which includes scheduling regular wellness exams and getting cat vaccines. 

If you’re looking to ace preventive care for your fur baby, we’re here to help. Sploot Veterinary Care is a primary and urgent veterinary clinic with multiple locations. We are open for extended hours, 365 days a year. Feel free to drop by for a same-day consultation or a happy visit with your cat!

As always, we’re with you every step of the way!