September is National Happy, Healthy Cat Month, and this month, Cody Pet Hospital is highlighting ways you can help your cat thrive.

While many animal health experts agree that cats are safest when kept indoors, your feline friends still need an enriched environment for health and stimulation. According to a 2016 Association for Pet Obesity Prevention clinical survey, nearly 60 percent of U.S. cats—about 50.5 million—are overweight or obese. Without properly enriched indoor environments, cats can become increasingly bored and are more likely to gain unhealthy amounts of weight. 

How should you enrich your indoor cat’s environment? Here are five ideas:

  • Train your cat—yes, cats can be trained—various cues and tricks. Use positive reinforcement (like clicker training) to teach your cat how to sit, come, or even play the piano.
  • Toys that you and your cat can play with together are a great way to strengthen the human-animal bond. You can entice your feline friend with wand toys that have strings and feathers, laser pointers, and even homemade toys, like wadded-up paper or foil balls.
  • Use technology to keep your cat active. From cat game apps for smartphones and tablets to videos and music designed specifically with our feline friends in mind, there are plenty of options for even the most discerning kitty.
  • Encourage the natural hunter in your cat by using food puzzles. Not only do these items help to satisfy your cat’s natural need to search for her food, but they also help to keep her active, which promotes a healthy weight.
  • Create a “catio” so your cat can enjoy time outdoors safely. These outdoor enclosures allow cats to soak in some fresh air and sunshine while watching and hearing the outside world around them. You can even incorporate other sources of enrichment, like a cat tree. There are many ways to build a catio—conducting an online search will provide ideas.

Enriching your indoor cat’s environment doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. Many cats are more interested in a cardboard box over a store-bought toy. Start with something simple and experiment from there until you come across something your cat loves. If you have any questions about your indoor cat, contact us.