As a cat owner, it is your responsibility to keep your pet happy and healthy. One thing that many forget is that cats can become bored, anxious, or simply curious, which can lead to some problem behaviours. When these problem behaviours arise, it is easy to blame the pet when in reality your cat may simply need more enrichment.
Enrichment activities can be created from practically anything and can be very inexpensive. These activities are ways for your bored cat to use their mind and entertain themselves. I will break down 12 DIY cat enrichment box ideas that you can create for your kitty today.
Create a Simple Toy Box
Most of these boxes can be made from practically anything you have around your home. Just think of all of the free boxes you have around your home that you can use to create a DIY activity for your cat. Whilst I will jump into the specifics, it is important to remember that you can create an enrichment activity from practically anything.
Some of the best options for cat enrichment boxes are:
- Pizza boxes, shoe boxes, Amazon boxes, or other cardboard box options.
- Cheap plastic milk crates. You may have these around your home, or they can be purchased for under £5 at most stores.
- Plastic storage totes or tubs. These are often around the home and can be used for enrichment activities.
- An old suitcase is another great option for creating an enrichment box.
One simple way you can use boxes is to put toys inside. This will give your cat the opportunity to search for the toy of their choosing and they may even play inside of the box. This is a great way to offer toys they love in a new way.
Include Children’s Toys
If you do not have a lot of cat toys in your home and do not want to spend money on new ones, basic children’s toys are also a great option. If you have children, they more than likely have toys that they have outgrown or do not play with anymore. Upcycle your children’s old toys by offering them in new ways to your cat.
Inside of your cat’s enrichment box, you can add toys that you already have around your home, such as size appropriate balls, perpetual motion toys, stuffed animals, and more. These can easily be added to an enrichment box and work well for cats.
While on the mindset of children’s toys, another great enrichment activity that many do not realize is blowing bubbles. Cats love bubbles and adding an automatic bubble blower to your enrichment toolkit is guaranteed to entertain. Cats love chasing and popping bubbles.
Recycle Items Around Your Home
If you want to keep your cat entertained, keep the saying one man’s trash is another man’s treasure in mind! There are tons of things around your home that you plan to throw away that would actually be great for your cat. You can easily use these items in your cat’s enrichment box to change things up and keep them entertained.
Some basic items that you can use that would otherwise be trash but your cat will love are:
- Crumble up paper bags and allow your cat to roll these around.
- Any scrap paper, wrapping paper scraps, construction paper, old newspaper, etc. can also be rolled up and used as a ball. Simply ensure that you do not accidentally give your cat any choking hazards.
- Milk caps, pop bottles, and wine corks are also great for cat toys.
- Carpet remnants are great for giving your cat a free scratching post. They can sharpen their nails without harming your home.
- Empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls are great options as well. They can be rolled around easily by your cat.
- Old shower curtain rings can also be used in enrichment boxes for your cat to pat around and play with.
Of course, ensure that any of these items you use are safe for your cat. You never want to use old food wrappers that may suffocate or harm your pet if ingested. You should always gauge your cat’s response and see how they feel about the items.
Include Arts and Crafts
While you may think of arts and crafts time as something more ideal for a toddler, this is actually a great way to provide enrichment for your cat. Grab a plain cardboard box and include crafting supplies to create the perfect enrichment box. You can include supplies inside the box or even poke them through the cardboard.
Some basic ways to use crafting supplies in an enrichment box are:
- Poke pipe cleaners through the box. The cat can lay inside and hit these pipe cleaners.
- Add a paper fan or other paper pieces to these pipe cleaners both inside and around the outside of the box. The cat will love smacking these pieces of paper.
- Throwing in some basic pom poms or cotton balls is a great way to keep the cats entertained.
- Of course, we have all seen the classic cartoons of a cat with yarn. Including any type of yarn or ribbon in your enrichment box will be a major hit.
When adding any crafting supplies to an enrichment box, ensure that these are safe for your cat to chew on or play with. While you should always monitor your cat, smaller things like buttons can be easily eaten and harmful to your pet.
Create a Reach Feeder
By including food in your enrichment activity, even the pickiest cat will become more involved. You can use this as a simple way to fight boredom or you can use a food-based activity to make mealtime more interactive. A great way to include food in your enrichment activity is through a reach feeder.
To create a reach feeder, you will need:
- A few toilet paper rolls
- Pencil or Pen
- Sharp Knife
- Shoe Box with a Lid or Washing Powder Box
- Cat Food or Treats
Start by placing your box on a flat service that is easily workable. You will use the pen or pencil to trace around the toilet paper rolls on the top of the box. You will want to do a different circle in several locations around the lid, depending on the size of the lid.
Using the knife, you will cut around these circles, creating holes on the lid. You should do your best to trace around the lines precisely. Put treats or kibble into the bottom of the box and then slide the rolls into the created holes, your cat will have fun reaching inside and grabbing these treats.
Create a Muffin Tin Puzzle
A great way to work your cat’s brain is through a muffin tin puzzle. These are super easy to make, and you probably already have a muffin tin in your home. You can either use the muffin tin on its own or even place it inside of a larger box for easier storage.
- Start by gathering a muffin tin, some small pom poms, cat treats, cat kibble, or any other small toys that you may have.
- Place a treat or piece of food inside of each muffin tin and cover it with a pom pom or toy.
- As your cat gets better at this puzzle, you can put less treats but still fill up the tins with toys or pom poms.
Your cat will sense the food in the muffin tin and will explore how to find this. They will eventually learn to move the toy to find the treat. You may need to show your cat this at first, but most will quickly catch on and will love the puzzle.
Create a Cat “Whack-a-Mole”
This activity once again includes cutting holes into your cardboard box and entertaining your cat by allowing them to reach inside. You can use about any box that you have around your home, but you do want it to be a bit larger. You will cut holes that are large enough for your cat to put their paw into but not too big.
Place the box with the holes facing up and show your cat that their favorite toys are inside. Many include wands that have feathers attached, as you can play along and move this while your cat tries to grab the toy from above. Essentially your cat will reach inside and try to snatch out these toys.
If you are using a wand toy, you can even pop it up through the holes and your cat is guaranteed to try to grab on. This mimics the commonly played arcade game “Whack-a-Mole.” When you cannot play along, you can use the same box and simply place toys and treats inside for easy entertainment.
Create a Cat Condo
If you have owned a cat for a while, you may have purchased a cat condo or considered one of these for your pet. The problem many have is that these are very expensive, and cats can become bored of them quickly. By creating something similar from boxes you have around your home, you can easily redo the condo when boredom strikes, and the costs are practically nonexistent.
To create your own cat condo enrichment activity, you will simply need:
- Boxes of various size that can be stacked to create a basic cat condo. You will need to secure this when stacking and never stack them too high.
- Scissors or a knife to cut holes in the boxes. Create a larger box that your cat can go inside. Include holes through the cardboard to include toys or treats.
- Cat toys or other treats. Hanging toys are a great option for these cat condos, as they can be smacked.
- A cat bed, blanket, or pillow are a great addition. Cats quickly find new places to sleep and adding a blanket to the condo is a great option.
This is an easy way to create a fun activity for your cat that takes a classic cat toy and lowers the price. If this is something that your cat enjoys, you can create new cat condos by using the same boxes in new patterns. This will keep your pet entertained for longer periods of time.
Include a Motorised Toy
There are countless motorised toys available for cats today. While this may not be completely DIY, you can easily purchase a motorised toy for very low cost. You can allow these toys to run around your home and your cat to chase these, but this can be a bit of a trip hazard.
If you want to use a motorised toy but do not want to worry about it getting lost in your home, adding it into a box is a fun way to keep your cat entertained. You can simply use a box and allow the toy to run around the box, your cat will reach inside and try to catch it. Another option is to cut holes in the box and allow your cat to reach inside and try to catch the toy.
For many cats, this can provide hours of entertainment. Your cat will stay mentally entertained and practice their natural instinct to hunt.
Try Including Water
If you have a narrow plastic tub, including water play activities is a great option. While your cat may not be as attracted to water play, many love these activities. You will simply fill the plastic tub with water and begin including the activities you have created for your pet.
Once you have a tub of water, some things you can include for your cat are:
- Float ping pong balls around the top of the water. Many cats will begin smacking these balls and playing their own form of ‘go fish’.
- Add a windup fish or similar cat toy. These are quick to entertain a cat and they will likely reach in to grab this fish.
- Practically any plastic toys that float can be used with this style of enrichment.
One thing that you want to keep in mind is that this activity should be done in an area where your cat is allowed to frequent. Many try to do water activities on countertops, and this can create negative behaviours. If you are worried about messes, placing a towel underneath the tub you are using can help with this.
Create a Rooting Box
If your cat is primarily indoors, they may benefit from bringing a bit of the outdoors inside. Before doing this activity, you do want to make sure that your cat is up to date on vaccinations and healthcare needs. There is always a minor risk when introducing outdoor items to an indoor pet.
However, creating a rooting box is a great way to entertain your pet and allow them the opportunity to try new things. To create a rooting box, you will simply need some of the following items:
- A cardboard box, old storage tote, or practically any nontoxic container.
- Fill the bottom of the box with dried leaves, sticks, grass clippings, rocks, and any other safe items from outdoors.
- Add some toys or treats into the box, covering them with sticks or leaves.
Your cat will enjoy playing through the sticks and leaves, giving them new textures and experiences that they do not get indoors. By adding treats or toys, even more hesitant cats will become intrigued by the box and more likely to join in. This also a great way to have your cat use natural foraging and hunting skills they may not get indoors.
Create Sensory Spots
Those who have a cat will more than likely know that cats love to sit in unique places. Whether this be a favorite pillow or the perfect sunny spot, cats seek out sensory spots around the home. You can create even more sensory opportunities by creating sensory spot boxes.
Most cats will naturally want to sit inside of boxes, but you can make these more enriching by adding sensory items. Some ways to do this are:
- Add a pillow in the box
- Add a fluffy blanket or unique textured blanket into the box.
- Use packing paper or newspaper to create a unique texture.
- Grab an old t-shirt that smells like you and place it into a box.
- Try adding new smells and any textures that you may think your cat will enjoy.
You can place these sensory boxes in various places around your home. Your cat is sure to explore these boxes and they may find a texture or smell that they love. They will likely find a box that they enjoy, and this will become a perfect sleeping spot.
Why Offer Your Cat Enrichment?
Now that we have discussed some of the unique ways you can provide your cat enrichment boxes, you do need to know the reasoning behind these activities. Most feline enrichment opportunities are offered to reduce your cat’s stress and boredom. However, these go beyond this and an create healthier, smarter cats.
If you have noticed that your cat is displaying negative behaviours, it may be time to begin offering these enrichment activities. While they can be offered at any time, they are a great way to reduce undesirable behaviours. Some common signs that your cat is bored or needs enrichment are:
- Destroying furniture or other items around the home
- Aggression towards humans or other pets
- Anxiety or isolation
- Attempting to escape the home
- Litter box problems
- Loss of appetite or overeating
If it seems that your cat will benefit from new activities, enrichment is a great way to improve their wellbeing and help your pet grow.
You can offer your cat a wide variety of types of enrichment, whether these a physical or more mental. The list above offers a great variety of both sensory based activities and those that stimulate the brain. Overall, by including a few of the beforementioned enrichment boxes into your cat’s routine, you will keep them entertained and lower problem behaviours.
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