Simple Ways to Enrich the Life of a Shelter Cat

At its most basic level, enrichment is a means for meeting the emotional and mental health needs of animals in your care. There are many tools and techniques you can use to enrich the experience for cats in your facility, and the good news is that many of them are not costly to implement. Your primary goal will be to use them to target and reduce cats’ stress in your shelter.

Here are a few simple ways to enrich the lives of all cats residing in your shelter.


Environmental enrichment can happen in two ways: adding something to the environment to enhance it or removing something from it to create a more passive, less stressful environment. Think about the things that the cats interact with indirectly that you can improve. For example, you can remove objects in the room that obstruct a nearby window, giving the cats in your facility access to the view outside the window. Are there things the cats interact with directly that you can improve? You can leave a cat’s unsoiled bedding in the kennel multiple days in a row to have a bed that smells familiar and retains its scent.


The appropriate use of toys can improve almost any shelter setup. For cats, toys represent an outlet for a series of natural compulsions. Play helps cats express instincts that are meant to make them effective hunters, as well as helping to give them an outlet for energy that has no way to be expelled inside their kennel environment on its own. Successful “hunting” and play activities are linked with increasing confidence. Distributing and maintaining toys in kennels can be one of the simplest ways to provide an enriching environment for cats and one of the least time-consuming options for you to implement.

Social Interaction

While cats can be loners, they are social animals, so having human contact is another form of enrichment for most cats in shelters. Having meaningful interactions with the cats through petting, brushing, and proximity to people can greatly improve the quality of their stay in a shelter. Spending a set amount of time with different cats and encouraging them to be social or comforting them through touch can be rewarding to both the human handler and the cat. However, it is critical to ensure that you are not overstimulating the cats in these interactions. The shelter workers or volunteers involved in holding, petting, and grooming the cats should be trained to be aware of cat body language and signs of stress so that each interaction ends positively.

At The Cat’s Inn, our mission is to provide healthy, convenient, and humane housing, especially for cats in shelters. A quality cat encloser is an easy way to enrich the life of a shelter cat. Having a comfortable place to sleep and hangout can take away a lot of the stress cats may face in a crowded environment. 

Call us today at (877)228-7466 to learn more about our safe and comfortable housing options for your shelter cats!