As you venture out this spring, don’t forget about your cat friends left indoors. Along with your spring cleaning, consider upgrading your cat’s indoor environment. Cats’ needs haven’t changed much from those of their wild ancestors. Wild cats were solitary hunters spending large amounts of time searching for prey. They are territorial and get quite anxious when it is disturbed. All cats have a superior sense of smell and hearing; loud noises and strong smells can be stressful.
Most important, we need to provide a safe and secure place for each of our indoor cats. Felines prefer that the safe space is just big enough to fit only them and is raised off of the ground. Cats enjoy perching high above the action. Search “cat perches” and “cat shelves” on line for great ideas.
Important resources (food, water, litter boxes, scratching areas, play areas, and sleeping areas) should be all separated from each other, and each cat should have access without feeling challenged-this reduces the stress of competition. Cats have scent glands in their feet and will mark their territories by scratching. Consider placing scratching posts in prominent areas; substances that they prefer are wood wrapped in sisal rope, tree branches with knobby bark, and driftwood.
Cats have a strong predatory drive. Help them exhibit this in an acceptable form by playing with them. Mimicking prey with toys is a great way that you and your cat can spend time together. Please do not use your hands or feet to “wrestle” as this teaches cats to stalk them and potentially bite. Food puzzles and food balls can mimic the actions of hunting too. Make sure you are rotating toys every couple of days so they don’t get bored. Also, every cat should have their own individual play time.
Let your cat determine when and where they would like to interact with you. They need to feel that they have some control over their environment and how they engage it. Cats prefer to have their face and neck rubbed or scratched; avoid their tummies as most dislike this.
Don’t forget your cat’s nose and ears. Avoid strong smelling cleaning products. Consider Feliway (a synthetic feline facial pheromone) to provide calming for new or stressful environments. Make sure that your cat’s important resources are away from machinery that could startle them like a refrigerators or the furnace.
By making a few simple changes for spring, you can increase your cat’s sense of well-being and strengthen your bond with your feline friends. Check out www.catvets.com for more ideas.
Dr. Sara Nosbush