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I recently wrote a blog post about the fact that our new cat, Gus, is being leash-trained. It’s not exactly common to see a cat on a leash, so I fielded quite a large number of questions about this adventure!
So today I want to do a more broad follow-up post about the importance of offering enrichment opportunities for your cat, and especially for the cats out there that seem to be “high energy” like our Gus.
As we did our own research about ways to keep an energetic cat like Gus happy, we learned about the importance of a daily ritual for him. Cats, by their nature, love to hunt, catch, eat, and then groom when they are awake. And of course beyond that, they like to sleep most of the day!
So as we have worked on enrichment activities for Gus, we keep those key components in mind, as well as their order. Gus doesn’t want to be groomed before he has eaten, for example. The ritual is key!
Here’s a peek at our daily activities with Gus that help keep him happy and healthy. First, we give him some time to hunt, or explore. That’s where leash time comes into play.
Gus knows that he gets outdoor time every morning, and he is always ready to go! He is very used to wearing his leash, but we are still working on learning how to “go for a walk.” IAMS™ cat treats are really key in this process. When we are working on giving directions to him with the leash (gentle tugs) we reinforce the movement suggestion with an offer for a treat. This increases his response rate, for sure! And bonus: these treats from IAMS™ offer oral care benefits.
He gets about 10 minutes outside in the morning to sniff around, do a little hunting for interesting things, and to just move a bit and get some exercise. Leash training a cat takes longer than leash training a dog, but for the active cat, I think it’s a fantastic enrichment opportunity.
After his “hunting” time he needs the satisfaction of getting to catch something. We have learned the type of toys that Gus likes the best, and they usually involve string and/or something that makes a bit of noise.
Gus LOVES to get to chase after his toy mouse and kick his ball of yarn. He really gets into it when he catches it, which is the highlight of this part of the morning. Gus has been out in the tall grasses, stalked his prey, and caught it! 😉
Now it’s time for the big payoff: his meal! I only recently learned that it’s important to offer cats food at set times, and not to have food out for them to eat at their leisure. Since we made the switch to feeding Gus after he gets to play and “catch” something, we hae noticed a difference in his behavior for the better.
For the most part, Gus gets dry cat food, and IAMS™ Proactive Healthy Weight & Hairball Care Dry Cat Food is a great choice for him and for our other cat, Hattie. They are both large cats, so the healthy weight component is a positive, and Gus has medium length hair, while Hattie has long hair. They both can benefit from the hairball support, for sure.
About once a week, we also offer a special meal of IAMS™ wet food (Purrfect Delights Salmon is the favorite flavor around here). If you don’t typically offer wet cat food to your cats, I definitely recommend integrating it into your rotation at least once a week. Your cats will go nuts!
After Gus is all done with his feast, he does a little grooming on his own, and sometimes we break out the cat brush and give him a good hair brushing, too, which he LOVES. It’s not uncommon for him to fall asleep while getting groomed or just after. This whole routine is so immensely satisfying for him and really helps meet his need for excitement. Incorporating IAMS™ products into the routine also allows us to target specific dietary needs he has, too. You can find all of the products featured in this post, including IAMS™ products, at Walmart, and note that the wet food and treats are typically on a different aisle than the dry food.
If you have an active cat who seems a bit bored or who might be acting out a bit, I want to very strongly encourage you to get him or her on a routine that gives your cat the opportunity to hunt, catch, eat and then groom. You will be amazed at what a difference it can make!
Do you have any other ideas for fun ways to engage active cats and keep them happy and healthy? I’d love to hear! You can also find some really great ideas for keeping your cats happy here. SO many cute ideas!