African servals, exotic cats as pets

Exotic Cat Care
Exotic Feline Enrichment and Toys
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Often the best enrichment can be another feline!

"Enrichment" is a fancy term for keeping your cats entertained. Exotic cats are highly intelligent, which often translates to "easily bored."

The best enrichment activity possible is interaction with their favorite humans. Those who are able to have their cats in the house at least part of the time are already ahead of the game.

You will soon find that there is no "PetSmart" you can walk into to stock up on cougar toys!

The larger your enclosure is, the more easily your cat will be able to find fun things to do in it.

One form of enrichment used by many zoos is to provide interesting scents for the cat to enjoy.



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"Enrichment" is a fancy term for keeping your cats entertained. Exotic cats are highly intelligent, which often translates to "easily bored." Therfore, responsible owners provide toys and activities to keep them happy, but you will soon find that there is no "PetSmart" you can walk into to stock up on cougar toys!

The best enrichment activity possible is interaction with their favorite humans. Those who are able to have their cats in the house at least part of the time are already ahead of the game. In this way among many others, the smaller species such as servals and caracals are easier to provide for, as they are more likely to be able to live in the house. The first time a tiger pees on your bed and drags it into his enclosure, frame and all, will probably be the last time he stays in the house!

Conversely, being outdoors and able to observe what is going on around them in the best enrichment for a house pet. Plainly, the ideal setup is for the cat to be able to occupy both the house and an outdoor enclosure. The larger your enclosure is, the more easily your cat will be able to find fun things to do in it.

Another compatible feline to live with can keep your cat happier and more entertained, as he can benefit from companionship and interaction when humans are away, and they can play with each other instead of (or in addition to!) ripping your belongings and their enclosures into shreds.

Toys are the most obvious form of enrichment. A toy does not neccessarily need to be something manufactured, but simply and object that the cat enjoys playing with or interacting with. A good example of an unconventional toy would be a discarded Christmas tree (with decorations removed). The cat can hide in it, tear it up, pounce on it, drag it around, and generally have a great time.

The structures inside your enclosure can help serve as enrichment. You can make the effective size of any enclosure larger and provide more things to do in it by adding platforms, climbing surfaces, tunnels, and den boxes to it. This increases the "floor space" and lets the cat jump around and climb on things...much more entertaining than pacing around a flat surface.

One form of enrichment used by many zoos is to provide interesting scents for the cat to enjoy. This is similar to the concept of giving catnip to your domestic cats; and in fact, many exotic cats enjoy catnip. However, there are many other possibilities.

The Fort Worth Zoo has an easily searchable database online at Enrichment Online.

The Honolulu Zoo has a nice Enrichment Activities page.

Disney's Animal Kingdom has a website on the subject of designing enrichment programs.

The USDA maintains a "Environmental Enrichment for Zoo and Aquarium Animals" page consisting of links to other sites which may be of use.

TO BE CONTINUED.........


Article copyright 2005 by Jessi Clark-White. All rights reserved.







 

Home | First Stop for Future Owners | Why Exotic Pets Should NOT be Banned | Species Profiles | Behavior and Training | Care | Veterinary Care | Vet Directory | Housing & Enrichment | Adoptions | Resources | Discussion Forum | Photos | Other Topics....
© Jessi Clark-White, 2005
Exotic Feline Enrichment and Toys