Looking for holiday fun?
Finding ways to keep an indoor cat entertained and active can be difficult. However, with a little creativity and a clicker, it's easy to come up with new and fun ways to enrich homebound animals.
Last Easter, my wife came up with an idea that seemed so silly we just had to try it—an Easter egg hunt for our cat, Phoebus. Since Phoebus enjoys a wide variety of treats and was a great hunter when we lived where he could spend his days outside, she figured that he could probably "hunt" Easter eggs hidden inside the house. It would be quite easy, especially if the eggs smelled like his favorite treats. We expected that the hunt would be very rewarding for him, and would be fun for us as a holiday experiment.
Last year's Easter egg hunt was a great success for us, and I encourage you to try it. It helps if your cat enjoys some treats that he can smell at a distance, but it's not necessary.
Do it yourself
While you're setting up the Easter egg hunt, keep your cat out of the room. Let him go outside or put him in the bedroom with the door closed. This will keep him from spotting where the eggs are hidden before the hunt begins.
First, get some plastic eggs that open in half, available around Easter time at most stores that sell seasonal items; get eggs of the same color to help your cat identify them more easily. Then, select a variety of really special treats, like canned tuna, smoked salmon, or anchovies, ones that your cat will enjoy and that have distinctive smells.
Rub the outside of the eggs with a treat; if you're using different treats in different eggs, make sure to rub the egg with the same type of treat as you're placing inside the egg. Place a treat in each egg, and then hide the eggs around a room in easily accessible locations, places that are visible to the cat from the right angle. For example, place an egg so that it is peeking out from behind the couch, or place one just inside an open closet. Save one egg to use to start the hunt.
Let the games begin!
Now let your cat back in the room and place the egg you saved in front of him, just a short distance away. The cat will walk right up to the egg and start to smell it. When he touches it, click and open the egg to reveal the treat. The hunt is on!
Watch your cat as he goes around the room and starts to discover other eggs. Each time he approaches an egg and touches it, click and open the egg to reveal the treat inside.
When we did this with our Phoebus, he trotted right to the next egg after we presented him with the previous, moving directly from one egg to another. He found them all almost immediately, much to our surprise. He loved the entire game, and when it was done he sat in the middle of the floor and gave himself a very contented—and fishy—bath.
Since we've only done this once, I don't know how different cats will react, but I'm interested to find out. Try this with your cats this Easter, and then tell us about it!