the same toys — which have
already repeatedly been “killed”
— eventually get boring or lost
under the sofa. The best idea
is to rotate toys, so some new
choices are always
Here are some
ideas for enriching
your cat’s life:
1. An empty box. Who
would think that an empty box
could create a week’s worth of
fun? Leave out an empty box on
Monday. On Tuesday, place the
box upside down, put something
on top to weigh it down, and cut
“mouse holes” in the sides, so
your cat can reach inside with his
paws to find treats you’ve hidden.
On Wednesday, turn the box right
side up and sprinkle catnip inside.
On Thursday, relocate the box to
another room, and it becomes
new all over again. On Friday, place
a small ball or squeaky mouse toy
inside the box.
2. Ping-Pong. Drop a Ping-Pong
ball into an empty tissue box to
create an instant and free track toy.
Track toys (in which balls or other
objects are pushed in tracks) are
available wherever cat toys are sold.
A Ping-Pong ball inside a bathtub
can also mean hours of fun.
3. More free toys. Paper bags
(without the handles), plastic tops
from milk cartons, or wine corks
also make great toys. Put them in
different places around the house
so your cat can search for them.
4. Think high. Unlike people,
cats use vertical space as elevated
spaces. Window ledges, cleared
bookshelves, a “highway” of catwalks made of shelves, tops of
radiators, or cat trees are just a
few ideas. In multi-cat homes, the
more raised surfaces for individual
cats to call “mine,” the less conflict between cats.
Steve Dale is a certified
animal behavior consultant.
He is a national newspaper
columnist (Tribune Content
Agency); heard on WGN
Radio, Chicago; host of the
nationally syndicated Steve Dale’s Pet
World; and author of the e-book Good
Cat, among others. He’s a founder of the
CATalyst Council and serves on the boards
of the Winn Feline Foundation and Tree
House Humane Society, Chicago. Check
out his blog at chicagonow.com/stevedale.
5. Must-watch TV. Outdoor
bird feeders are entertaining for
people and cats. Some cats enjoy
DVDs starring birds or reptiles
made specifically for cats.
6. Food control. To keep your
indoor cat from becoming overweight, timed feeders offer food
at only specified times; gravity
feeders control how much available food there is.
7. Puzzle this. There are lots of
inexpensive toys that can be filled
with kibble and/or treats. The cats
maneuver the toys to get their
prize. Many cats will be motivated
once they understand the game.
These toys are most fun when cats
learn to seek them out at random
times (“hunting”) and then finding
Want to make your own free
puzzle feeder? Purina ONE has
some great ideas: purinaone.com/
8. Two is best. Most people
with a cat actually have two or
more. Still, there are plenty of
single cat homes. Cats are social,
and two may keep one anoth-
er company. Sure, introducing
another cat can be tricky, and
it’s not for all cats. Maybe having
a canine companion might be a
9. Safety outside. Some
indoor-only cats will take to the
idea of walking on a leash and
harness outside or being pushed
around the neighborhood in a
cat stroller. For cats who insist
on being outside, or might simply
enjoy the experience of a catio,
try cat fencing that keeps cats
in yards and keeps predators out
(still, adult supervision is always