We all love to indulge our furry friends and it can be great peace of mind to know that their needs are being met and they have everything that they need, both inside and outside of their home. It’s not always easy to know exactly what our fussy felines require. While they may have you convinced that all they need to be happy is a constant supply of ‘Dreamies’, there are actually lots of other things we should be doing to make our homes cat friendly.
As with other pets, we need to be enriching their environment with things that both encourage exercise and ‘tickle’ the brain. Neglecting either their physical or mental needs can result in a cat who is depressed or anxious.
The basics to make your home more cat friendly
- The basics. While it may sound obvious that every cat needs their own food bowl, water bowl, litter tray and supply of toys, not every pet cat in the U.K. is supplied with these. It is often the case that they are expected to share certain items with other cats in the household. This is actually a big no-no as it can lead to a lot of resentment, anxiety and even aggression. Some owners do not provide a tray as they expect their cats to toilet outside at all times. However this may not always be easy, especially if the cat is unwell or the weather is poor. Cats are also happier if you keep their food and water bowls separate, so try not to put them next to one another.
- A bed and ‘safe space’. It’s not unheard of that cats are not given beds and are expected to find their own places to sleep, such as on rugs and carpets. However, having to seek out a new shelter each time they fancy a cat nap can be confusing. Cats are much happier when they have their own place to call ‘home’. Ideally, they would have a cosy cat bed (many prefer one with a roof) in a quiet area of the home with low foot traffic where they know they will be left alone to get some peace.
- Play time. No matter the age or temperament of your cat, they need to be provided with some play time where they can exercise and let off some steam. Naturally, cats love to exercise in short bursts rather than all at once. We can try to replicate this by encouraging the chasing of lasers and wind-up toys. You can also try hiding treats around the home to be sniffed out and eaten.
- ‘Natural Eating’. Rather than feeding your cat their food all in one go, they prefer to ‘graze feed’. Some cats are greedy and so we mustn’t give them an unlimited supply of food, you can make the food last longer by using food puzzles or making them find it in different places – make them work for their supper!
While not for everyone, the following suggestions can really help to enrich most cats’ lives and keep stress levels low:
- Outdoor access. This topic is a little controversial depending on who you talk to. However, most U.K. vets would agree that as long as the cat has been neutered and is over the age of six months, they should be allowed to roam freely outside. For those who live near main roads and are fearful of injuries, consider replicating the experience by making a ‘catio’ that is fenced in. This allows cats to have access to fresh air and the hustle and bustle of the great outdoors.
- Make outside fun. Consider planting cat grass, catnip or catmint outside for them to munch. Provide plenty of spots in the garden for them to lounge (they particularly like high up spaces) and sun bathe.
- Cat Trees. These ‘climbing frames’ for cats can provide hours of fun. Many will contain scratching posts, beds and dangly toys to add to the enjoyment. They encourage cats to exhibit their natural climbing and jumping behaviour. They also afford them a nice, high seat (or should we say throne?) for people watching!