In nature, the cat is a solitary animal whose main occupation consists in searching for food. But domestic cats don’t need to go hunting to fill up their bowls. For this reason, their activity is considerably reduced. It is therefore up to us, humans, to find out how to entertain them to make up for this lack of exercise!
In the wild, it takes a dozen mice a day to satisfy a cat’s needs. Imagine then how long it takes in looking for them! This is how much time is “lost” for a domestic cat, who in all probability doesn’t need to hunt to find food. “In the wild, hunting takes up most of the cat’s waking time. But in the house, in most cases, the food appears in the bowl as if by magic, at regular intervals, and the cat spends very little time around food intake,” explains Doctor Stéphane Tardif, vet in Neuilly sur Seine. “In consequence, to improve the cat’s environment and make it more entertaining, this lack of activity needs to be compensated by something just as stimulating.”
Develop the hunting instinct
There are several ways to do this. The first consists in investing in “extended” bowls or even games that oblige your cat to search for the food and activate its grey matter to find it. “This activity, far from being a constraint, occupies them, amuses them and develops their intelligence, obliging them to solve little problems,” confirms Dr Tardif. But you can also simply divide the cat’s daily ration into several small meals during the day, and hide the food in different parts of the house. The cat is therefore encouraged to get out of its basket to go and find it.
You can also offer sources of entertainment to your cat through games: there are many accessories to try out with your cat, going from corks tied to a door with a string, to the latest hi-tech toys, not forgetting the timeless feather duster. However, “not all cats respond in the same way to play, or even the different types of toy,” warns Dr Tardif. “It’s a learning process: some cats only react to a toy if a human moves it for them, while others are able to learn to bring back thrown objects, spontaneously.” You must therefore test several toys to find which one your cat prefers. And if you are worried about disorder in your home, don’t hesitate to tidy everything away in a box!
Finally, the most effective way to offer an endless source of entertainment to cats is of course to allow them outdoor access. According to Dr Tardif, “nothing can replace the kilometres that a cat can cover in roaming its territory”, but access to a balcony, a terrace or a garden can also contribute a lot to its well-being. Securing of the outside space is not to be neglected, however!