When it comes to our dogs, most of us know they need to get out for walks, which are both decompressing and enriching. Did you know this is helpful for our cats and other small pets too? When it comes to enrichment for pets, we want to think about what they would do if left to their own accord and then modify that for their safety.
My cat, Egypt, loves being outdoors. For her safety and the safety of birds and other wildlife, I choose to keep her indoors but do allow her outdoors with supervision. Egypt’s desire to find and stalk prey does not change even though she is indoors. Toys, such as wand toys, help fulfill this desire, but for her, nothing beats being outdoors.
I trained Egypt to walk on a harness indoors first and then later in enclosed yards. It took time and a lot of treats, but she walks well on her harness. The harness gives her a lot of freedom. She can visit forests and does go out with the dogs and I when she is feeling up to it. However, there are several dangers that we can encounter, mainly off-leash dogs that are not cat friendly.
One way around this is to stay in our own yard, but there are other options, including Sniffspot. Before visiting with your cat or other pet, be sure the host approves. Our local Sniffspot’s host approved and allowed Egypt to visit, and Egypt absolutely loved it. She wandered the field, saw several small birds, enjoyed the sunshine, and was not bothered by the noises in the city.
I have seen the benefits of enrichment in Egypt’s life. A couple of years ago, she struggled with inflammation in several organs and had several surgeries in a matter of months, including a major one that left her with 54 staples. Egypt was several depressed and struggled in her daily life. When we added enrichment in the form of bird feeders and flowers outside her window and started letting her outside with us once her abdomen was healed, she dramatically improved.
Enrichment has also become a huge affair in zoos and other areas where animals are confined. A quick internet search will bring up a variety of ways animals’ lives are enriched when they are out of their natural environment.
We can enrich the lives of any pet, and I highly encourage it. Enrichment brings joy and satisfaction to our pets and gives them an outlet for their natural instincts. It can also be a major step in alleviating behavioral problems.
If you are looking for ways to build enrichment into your pets’ lives or need help with training, feel free to reach out. We are more than happy to help your pet live a more fulfilling life.