A New Way for your Cat to Play – All Natural Scent Based Enrichment

A Library of Smells to Enrich Your Cat – The Background:

Imagine if your sense of smell was 15 times more sensitive and you could read a story through your nose – you would love to take a book out of the library of smells. 

Sometimes exercise or going out with friends is fun, but other times you just want to sit on the couch and absorb your entertainment from a novel or through a screen. While cats definitely love chase toys and play, they absolutely enjoy sitting and relaxing. Similarly to how we enjoy TV and books, cats can read the story of the world around them entirely with their nose

Think about a cat’s natural environment outdoors. They are surrounded by a wide variety of colors, sounds and most importantly, scents that constantly stimulate their extremely sensitive sense of smell. Inside our human homes cats are surrounded by the scents of plastics, cleaners, fabric, and other scents that we may not even notice. These constant artificial smells can be boring and sometimes overwhelming for them. Bringing the scents of nature inside for your cat to enjoy is welcome change to their lives that can provide many benefits. 

The smells of herbs and plants can reduce stress, relieve boredom, encourage relaxation, and make for an all-around happier cat. This can help solve a wide range of behavioral issues that can stem from these feelings. Scents influence our emotions in a similar way – think of how the smell of warm cookies, fresh cut grass, or how your favorite candle can change how you feel. 

The key is to allow your cats choices in plants and allow them self select the particular ones that they enjoy. Just as you cannot force a particular book on someone, you cannot force a specific plant on a cat. So the freedom to choose amongst the many herbs is important for them to be able to enjoy themselves. 

Catnip (and also Silvervine) are the most well known of plants that work entirely based on scent – just a pinch of them cause a big reaction that encourages cats to play. Other plants can trigger the many other feelings beyond play and excitement but in a less immediately apparent way. 

An Indoor Herb Garden – How Does it Work?

To easily create this scent library in your home, you can create a maintenance free herb “garden” that is analogous to one you would grow outside. Lay out a small blanket or towel in a quiet spot and spread different dried herbs in the different corners. Your cat can then freely walk over and pick the specific scent they desire when they want. 

Your cats response may be subtle or look like nothing at all if you don’t observe carefully. Watch for a lightly open mouth, lowered head with slightly closed eyes, nostrils flaring, or sitting as if in a trance like state to determine if they like a particular herb. Watch over the course of days or weeks to see if they return to certain spots. Patience is the key because the goal is to improve their overall wellbeing instead of giving short bursts of excitement.

Many cat owners choose herbs that are used in aromatherapy and traditional herbal medicines to aid in relaxation, pain relief, easing symptoms are various illnesses, and more. While this has not been studied scientifically in depth, it remains a popular idea that people find success with. Do ensure the herbs you select to use are safe for cats to ingest just in case they decide to take a nibble as well. The ASPCA has a comprehensive list here: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/cats-plant-list

How To get the Herbs?

You can find dried the herbs to purchase in variety of places both online and local. Just be sure they are fresh and don’t have any additional additives or other herbs blended in. If you don’t want to search each plant out individually or end up with more than you need then take a look at our complete herbal enrichment kit. It is the simplest way to get a variety of 13 ASPCA safe herbs you can use create your own indoor herb garden and enrich your cats environment. See it by clicking below.