We have two store kitties, Sailor and Griffen, pictured here with their heads poking through the opening in their cat tree. These boys enjoy a fantastic lives as indoor cats. It does help that they have each other for company.

cat enrichment

Our two store cats getting into two-headed mischief on their cat tree.

I wanted cats my entire life, but I’m allergic and can’t have them at home (I actually tried to make it work twice!). I saw these two cats on Craigslist and thought they would be perfect store companions for several reasons: they were mature at 4 1/2 years old, so no kitten energy, no kitty training to use a litter box; they were neutered brothers from the same litter; they had never been outside, giving us a better chance of keeping them inside; and they needed a new home. Plus, they came with their own cat tree, litter box, and everything else I needed—all for free!

We had a couple rough months early on with the cats not wanting to be hugged. Griff actually scratched several kids who pushed him too far. I did some research and quickly realized that they needed more “cat enrichment” such as high cat scratching posts from Time for Paws and perches to retreat to, plus better managed social contact.

Sailor and Griffen have quite a following and many people stop in just to see them and pet them.  The boys sleep in the pet room with the rabbit, the guinea pig, and the birds. Yes, I said ‘birds’. I think that keeps everyone on their toes. No one has been injured, or even close to it.

We get a lot of questions from customers about cat behavior and why our store cats seem so easygoing. Based on the behavior work of experts like Pam Johnson-Bennett, we know that many so-called problems are often due to a lack of cat enrichment, which is a fancy way of saying everyday entertainment that uses their natural skills. This can come in the form of food puzzle toys, interactive toys, vertical space, hideaways, and all kinds of scratching objects. Sometimes the best cat deterrent is the only way out. We usually spend the time dressing them up in a cute pirate costume for cat and recreating our favorite movie scenes.

The key is to find the activity or toy that suits your kitty’s preferences. For some cats, it’s a good round of chase with the cat dancer; for others it’s as simple as providing them a comfy window seat so they can enjoy “Cat TV” every day.

Sailor and Griff are quite lucky because our store provides them with a lot of daily stimulation. But even they can be naughty: they have mastered the art of breaking open boxes of dog/cat food samples that have been taped shut with packing tape and they are not picky. Despite this, we love these boys and wouldn’t trade them for anything. They enrich many lives, especially ours.