Cat enrichment and training during isolation

Pet owners working from home are spending more time than ever with their beloved felines who can provide valuable company during these tough times. So, it’s important to think how this lifestyle change could be affecting your cat. This could also be the perfect time to strengthen your bond with your pet by teaching them some new skills.

If your cat is used to being alone throughout the day, make sure you give them a safe room or space where they too can self-isolate from humans. Be sure to encourage solo play to avoid any separation anxiety issues.

For cats that love company, you could get the whole family involved with enrichment activities. By using materials like cardboard, tissue boxes and paper, you can create kitty palaces that they will love to explore. You could also make food enrichment toys using household items (think stuffing a treat inside a toilet roll). To ensure these new toys retain their novelty, hide them out of sight until next playtime.

Watch this video below to learn how to make a simple cat toy out of household yarn and download this pdf for more enrichment activities.

If you find yourself with extra time on your hands, you could work on some new forms of training. Maybe you could get your cat used to brushing, sitting in a carrier, or even walking on a harness!

This could also be a good time to transition an outdoor cat into an indoor cat. You’ll need to be patient and start slowly by following these tips:

  • Set up a safe space for your cat indoors that has a comfortable bed, multiple litter trays, water, food and toys. Don’t allow young children or other pets to access this space
  • Trial keeping your cat in every night but transition to every second night if this proves too difficult for you and your pet
  • Use baby gates that allow the cat to move around freely while having its own space. Secure them 15-20cm up off the ground to ensure the cat can go beneath but other animals or young children cannot enter
  • Work on getting your cat harness trained so they can go outside with you. In the meantime, don’t deny them the great outdoors
  • Think about building a screened-in enclosure that enables your cat to outside safely
  • Don’t give up! Give your cat plenty of love and attention during its indoor time to minimise destructive behaviours 

As always, it’s important to keep an eye out for any signs your cat may not be enjoying these household changes. Cats are subtle and will usually walk away or remove themselves from a situation they don’t feel comfortable in. Make sure you have plenty of treats on hand to increase your positive interactions and try to follow the signs your cat is giving you.

For more information on cat enrichment, go to this page.