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Ten Tips for Maintaining Your Cat’s Mental Fitness

10 tips for maintaining your cat's mental fitness

You’ve heard the saying that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste” and that applies to your Feline Einstein as well. Your cat has a remarkable brain and it needs to be challenged, stimulated and exercised to help maintain good mental fitness. Here are 10 tips to help get you started:

1. Play With Your Cat

Engage in daily interactive play sessions where you move the toy like prey so your cat can use her incredible hunting skills. A fishing pole/wand-type toy is best for interactive sessions because it puts a distance between the cat’s teeth and your fingers. The wand toy also allows you to move the toy in a way that entices the cat’s play response.  A well-done interactive play session gives your cat the opportunity to plan out her stalking technique and perfect her pounce timing. When a cat hunts, she relies on mental skill  just as much as physical ability so be sure you incorporate that into the game. Let the “prey” hide periodically or quiver instead of always doing non-stop frantic movements. It’s the time prey is still or distracted that the cat will plan her advance to get within striking distance. It’s also important to make the game rewarding and satisfying. Let your cat have several captures throughout the play session.

Schedule play sessions at least twice a day for about 15 minutes each. This regularly scheduled time of physical and mental exercise is beneficial to your cat’s health and confidence. It’s also wonderful for strengthening the bond you share with your cat.

Just be sure you put interactive toys away after each session to prevent your cat from getting tangled up in the string.

2. Make Mealtime Fun for Your Cat

Instead of heaping a pile of food into your cat’s bowl, use puzzle feeders so that she gets the chance to work for food. This feeding method provides entertainment for your cat while keeping her mentally stimulated. You can find puzzle feeders in your local pet supply store or online. You can also make your own. For dry food, cut holes in a plastic water bottle and place some pieces of dry food in there. Be sure the holes are large enough for the kibble to easily spill out when the cat bats at the bottle. For wet food, a simple puzzle feeder can be made out of a plastic ice cube tray or egg carton. Place a little drop of wet food in each cube compartment. You can also make puzzle feeders out of plastic Easter eggs by cutting a hole in them and placing a few treats inside. If you look online you can find lots of creative ideas for homemade puzzle feeders.  Note: if you also share your home with a dog, be sure the cat puzzle feeders are only made available in dog-free zones of the house.

cat books by pam johnson-bennett and quote from Georgia SPCA


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