A girl practices indoor enrichment with her cat.

While our pets have grown accustomed to living with humans over the centuries that the domestication process has occurred, it is important to remember that they are still animals. Taking a wild animal and bringing them indoors into our suburban homes from the great outdoors is quite a change. 

The pet experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center know how important mental and physical stimulation is to the health of our patients. Keep reading to learn about indoor enrichment for pets.

The Importance of Indoor Enrichment

Indoor enrichment is the idea of utilizing a pet’s indoor environment to support species-typical behaviors and increase physical activity in a natural manner. Good environmental enrichment practices help to fulfill a pet’s physical and psychological needs, reducing stress, and promoting overall well-being.

Good indoor enrichment is directly correlated to decreasing a wide-variety of behavior problems, including:

A little effort can help you to better enjoy your pet and for them to better thrive in your home. What’s not to like?

Tips for Cats

Cats have lots of inherent behaviors and instincts, and when they are confined inside, they need the help of humans to exercise. Cats with good indoor enrichment, though, are overall happier and healthier. 

Be sure that you are providing stimulation and enrichment for your cat by:

  • Utilizing interactive and/or puzzle toys
  • Rotating toys in your home to prevent boredom
  • Considering utilizing a bowl-free feeding system to simulate natural hunting
  • Spending dedicated time interacting with your cat each day
  • Providing vertical space for your cat to explore
  • Setting out things like paper bags and cardboard boxes for your cat to explore
  • Providing visual stimulation with a bird feeder outside of a cat-friendly window, a secure fish tank, or videos designed for cats on the television
  • Investing in a catio
  • Encouraging your cat to express their inner hunter with chase games like hunting a laser pointer or a lure toy

Tips for Dogs

Indoor enrichment in dogs can help you to keep your pet happy and healthy, improving your relationship with your pet. There are lots of very simple things that you can do to achieve this goal. 


  • Engaging in short training sessions (five minutes three times a day) with your pet
  • Learning about positive reinforcement training
  • Using puzzle type toys to stimulate your pet’s brain
  • Food-based enrichment like a puzzle ball to create a challenge
  • Having a puppy play date if your dog enjoys the company of other dogs
  • Using sensory items like a new chew toy or blanket to explore
  • Doing nosework inside your home with your pet
  • Hiding your pet’s food around the home to simulate hunting-type behavior
  • Dedicating at least 15 minutes out of your day to paying attention to your pet to allow for social enrichment

Indoor enrichment for your pet is not hard to accomplish, it just requires a little effort. The rewards are well worth it, though. Please contact us if you need help or advice achieving the ideal environment for your pet. We are happy to help.