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Tips for Keeping Your Cat's Mind Sharp

Learn some techniques for keeping your cat mentally sharp.

Cats are living longer than ever today as many of them are kept inside, safe from outside dangers, are fed higher quality food, and receive excellent veterinary care. It's even more crucial that we do what we can to keep our kitties mentally sharp so they can better enjoy their extra years. Here are some tips for helping your cat's mind remain young and sharp.

Make Brain Health a Priority from Kittenhood

It's never to early to start actively thinking about and putting a plan in place for keeping your cat mentally fit. From the time you acquire your kitten or cat, be mindful of his mental health and the things you can do to improve it.

  • Be sure your cat's scratching environment is top-notch. Climbing and scratching are critical activities for good mental and emotional health in cats. Your cat needs lots of good-quality scratching posts in a variety of shapes and sizes. Get good posts, put them in the right spots in your home, and teach your cat to use them if you need to.
  • Use wand toys to mimic prey behavior and spend at least ten minutes a day using one to pretend to be a rodent or bird. Cats are hunters, and their good mental health depends on being able to practice the skills required to catch prey. Our indoor cats don't get to do that much or at all, so we need to provide them with simulations to keep them mentally sharp. Interactive play is the way to do that. Get a few different wand toys and rotate which one you use. Keep them out of your cat's reach between play sessions because they can be entanglement or strangulation risks if your cat tries to play with one unsupervised. Learn more: "Interactive Playing with Wand Toys."
  • Offer puzzle toys. These are toys that hold kibble, and the kitty has to work on them to figure out how to get some to tumble out. It helps keep them occupied, work their brain, and mimics hunting to a degree.

Make Play Time a Priority

Play regularly with your cat throughout his life. Use wand toys, catnip toys, and even electronic toys. Keep a box of toys where your cat can't get to it and rotate them often, so he doesn't get bored. Spend ten minutes once or twice a day playing directly with your kitty.

If you prioritize play time throughout your cat's life, he should stay mentally sharp and playful as he ages.

Bring the Outdoors In

Cats love to watch birds, chipmunks, and squirrels scurry around outside. It keeps them engaged with their world and in touch with their predator instincts. You can indulge these desires for your kitty by putting a nice, great-quality cat tree by a window and then setting up a bird feeder ten or so feet outside of it (not too close, so the birds aren't scared by the kitty).

Your cat will spend many happy hours watching the kitty TV you created!

Create Vertical Space and Lots to Do for Your Cat

Cats love to be up high, and many people create catwalks and other vertical space for their cats to explore and enjoy.

You can also create obstacle courses to keep your kitty sharp. Use cardboard boxes with holes in them for your cat to jump in and out of. Paper bags without handles are favorite hiding and pouncing spots. Cat Caves for crouching and watching ankles go by and tall cat trees for racing up and down are more fun ideas.

Consider Leash Training

Teaching your cat to walk outside on a harness and leash can be a great way to keep him enriched and mentally sharp throughout his life. It can also provide great bonding time for the two of you.

You can learn how to teach your cat to walk on a leash, including all the safety rules you'll want to know, here: "How to Train a Cat to Walk on a Leash."

Work on Training in General

Training is great for cats' brains. Take a few minutes a day to work on teaching your cat to do a trick or follow a command. Not only will that help keep your cat's brain active and engaged, but it will also help bond the two of you.

Learn more about training here: "Cat Training: Know the Basics."

Separate and Hide Your Cat's Meals

You can further engage your cat's hunting instincts, helping him exercise both his body and his mind around meal times, by breaking his meal up into several small portions and hiding them around the house to "hunt" and find throughout the day.

Learn more about caring for an older cat in these helpful articles: Senior Cat Care.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Outdoor Dangers for Cats

How Long Do Cats Live?

Interactive Playing with Wand Toys

Why Do Cats Like Boxes?

How to Train Your Cat to Walk on a Leash

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