Have you finally decided to build an outdoor cat enclosure because your kitty is continuously trying to go outside?
Outdoor catios are the best solution for pet parents who are concerned about their cats’ safety and cats that love to spend time outdoors.
Cats are highly active creatures and they need regular stimulation from their environment, meaning they should have multiple things to do.
Otherwise, they get bored, which can then lead to several behavioral and medical issues.
Therefore, just providing an outdoor space to your cat isn’t going to resolve the problem.
You have to make sure there is enough environmental enrichment in your catio to keep your kitty busy and entertained.
In addition to decorating your catio with perches, platforms, hammock, and a cat tree, make sure you also add some cat toys in the enclosure.
What Toys Should You Have in The Outdoor Cat Enclosure?
To help you make the right choices, here we are listing some of the best toys for outdoor cat enclosures; not only do cats love these toys, but they also don’t cost you an arm and a leg:
No cat space is complete without a scratching post. Since cats have a natural instinct to scratch and it also helps them maintain healthy claws, a scratching post is one toy that your feline friend will never get bored of. Also, it will help you save your furniture.
While only placing a scratching post (or multiple if you have more than one cat) in the catio is enough, you can also hang a small ball at its top, using a string, to make it more fun for your kitty. Cats love to play with dangling objects!
Believe it or not, this simple toy can keep your cat engaged for hours and will also improve their mental health. It’s a stress reliever for your pet.
It’s no secret that cats love to hunt for mice and those who have had pet cats for any length of time know that they don’t hunt for the tiny creatures because they are hungry.
According to cat researchers and behavioral experts, they most likely do it for any of the following reasons:
- To satisfy their natural desire for chasing and hunting
- To bring a gift for their owners, which is a display of their affection
- Due to their parenting instinct. This is applicable to female cats as they have strong maternal instincts and want to provide for their family. Pet cats bring dead animals for their owners because they consider them as their family.
Let your pet cat satisfy these natural instincts without bringing back a real dead animal for you by providing fake mice. You can place multiple mice in different areas in the enclosure, such as on the highest platform, the perch of a cat tree, or in the cubbyholes.
Make sure they are visible to the cat, so they act as both mental and physical stimulants and satisfy their stalking, chasing and hunting instincts.
Chasing and hunting activate the brain’s reward system in cats. The anticipation for the desired outcome initiates the release of dopamine, which reduces stress and keeps cats happy.
Fake mice are quite cheap, so it won’t be a strain on your wallet to replace them, in case your cat tears them apart.
Puzzle Toys and Feeders
As mentioned above, cats regularly need stimulation to stay physically and mentally active, which is critical for their health. Puzzle toys and feeders do just that.
They keep your feline friends physically active and mentally engaged by inciting their curiosity and then reward them with a little amount of food. Once cats get the reward, they keep on playing with the puzzle to get more of it.
In addition to keeping them active and entertained, puzzle feeders also promote cats’ gastrointestinal health as well as help prevent overeating, which can lead to weight gain, by ensuring slower eating.
We all know that cats love to play and pounce (pouncing is also one of their natural instincts). Since they are hunters, they also have the tendency to attack small, moving things.
Dangling toys provide them with the opportunity to satisfy these instincts and hence, these feline pets love to play with such toys.
Get a few detachable hanging toys and attach them in the outdoor cat run. Keep changing their places every few days or a week to keep things fresh and interesting for your pet child.
While cats are playful creatures and love to explore, they also have a kind of obsession with squeezing into small places and curling up there. Play tunnels cater to both these habits of cats.
They are available in a variety of designs, from simple single tube tunnels to the complex ones with multiple tubes and holes. Some of them also come with hanging toys attached to enhance the entertainment factor.
Place a cat play tunnel inside the enclosure and let your kitty slink through its tubes and holes. Your cat will love it.
By providing a lot of climbing space and high resting platforms, a cat tree will instantly become your feline friend’s favorite. Get a cat tree with cubby holes to make it even more entertaining for your cat.
Tips to Maintain Your Cat’s Interest in Toys
When it comes to keeping your cat active, engaged, and entertained with toys, one of the most common issues cat owners face is that cats quickly lose interest in them.
Does this mean you should keep buying new toys for them after every few weeks? Definitely not!
Cat behavioral experts offer the following tips that can help maintain domestic cats’ interest in their toys:
1) Keep Changing the Place of Toys
This simple technique will help renew your cat’s interest in its toys. As cats are inherently curious and like to explore, they get intrigued by anything placed in a new location and want to check it out.
So, move around the toys and keep changing their location regularly to maintain your cat’s interest in them.
2) Rotate the Toys
Cats don’t need too many toys at the same time, so don’t give your cat all the toys you have bought for it at one time. Instead, place only a few toys in the outdoor cat run or enclosure when you build it and let your kitty play with them for a while.
When it seems that your cat is getting bored or losing interest in them, replace them with some new toys. Let the cat have fun with it and then replace them with the toys you earlier removed from the catio.
Continue to rotate the toys this way to maintain your cat’s interest and excitement.
3) Place the Toys Strategically Around the Cat Enclosure
Instead of just dumping toys in the catio, place them around in a way that it sparks the cat’s interest and curiosity. For example, hide a ball toy inside an open paper bag, in a way that it’s slightly visible to the cat. Place the fake mice in the perch of a cat tree or a high resting platform.
Hang the dangling toy inside cat runs and tunnels or at the entrance of a cubbyhole. Use your imagination or the knowledge you have about your cat’s personality to figure out what will incite its curiosity and interest.
4) Only Use Interactive Toys When You Are Playing With the Cat
Don’t place interactive toys in the catio – use them only when you are playing with your feline friend to maintain its interest in them. It will also make the pet look forward to playing with you (because it will know that you’ll bring something new and interesting) and maximize fun.
Animal experts and experienced pet owners also advise against leaving pets alone with interactive toys because some of them can be potentially dangerous and can cause harm to your pet. For example, the cat toys that look like fishing poles pose the threat of getting strangled.
Cats love the outdoors. You can maximize the fun for your furry friend by placing several interesting toys in its catio so that it stays occupied.
The fresh air, along with physical and mental activity that your cat will enjoy in a catio decorated with different types of cat toys, will have a significant positive impact on its mood and overall well being.
Both cat behavioral experts and owners agree that having toys are critical to raising healthy and happy cats.