YOUR CAT AND THEIR ENVIRONMENT: PLAY, EXERCISE, MARKING, PEACE AND QUIET
A stimulating environment for a cat is one where they can express their natural, normal feline behaviours. What types of behaviours? Cats are loners who like to:
- Mark their territory using scratching, urine, or facial marking
- Observe without being seen
- Climb things to get a better view
- Look out the window: Your cat is an amateur ornithologist and squirrel researcher
- Hide somewhere quiet to sleep and be left alone
- Be around other people and animals without having to interact
CREATE A CAT-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT TO PREVENT PROBLEMS
Enriching the environment in which your cat lives, grows, and ages will aid in their development and help prevent stress, inactivity, and understimulation, which can lead to problems like obesity, diabetes, anxiety, depression, house soiling, aggressive behaviour toward other cats or humans in the household, destruction of property, and excessive meowing.
If your pet develops one or more of these problems despite your best efforts, talk to your veterinary clinic team about it.
HOW TO CREATE A STIMULATING ENVIRONMENT THAT MEETS YOUR CAT’S NEEDS
SET UP SPECIAL SPACES
Your cat needs healthy ways to express their natural feline behaviours in your home. To meet that need, you can set up cat-friendly corners where they can:
- Do facial marking
- Scratch at will
- Climb and observe or hide
- Hide to watch without being seen
- Spend time alone
- Rest or sleep
- Be near you and household activity without interacting
- Look out the window
Ideas for perches:
- Free up some space on a bookshelf
- Set up a cat tree in the living room
- Install a shelf just for kitty
Put these safe zones in active areas of the house, not in the back part of the basement or in the laundry room. Add shelves to windowsills to give them a spot where they can look outside and perfect their birdwatching skills. Not an option? Place a chair or small table by the window instead.
TAKE THEM OUTSIDE?
Is letting your feline friend explore the outside world an option? That depends on your cat. If they’re the active, curious, and adventurous type, going outdoors will meet their need for physical exercise and mental stimulation.
But if your cat is on the timid side, it might just stress them out. How can you tell if your cat is stressed? If they’re hiding under the deck instead of exploring the yard or lounging on the patio, they’re probably not the outdoorsy type. In that case, keep them inside—they’ll be more comfortable.
If they’re not super active but also aren’t intimidated by the great outdoors, they’ll probably find a quiet spot to sunbathe. For safety’s sake, tether your cat with a body harness and leash when they’re outdoors. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t get tangled up. And never leave them tied up outside while you go to work all day.
All cats love to play! How much? It depends on their age and personality. To figure out what types of games your cat likes, give them a variety of play options and then adjust to their tastes and interests over time. Give your cat lots of stimulating, interactive toys that move in different ways like:
- A Cat Dancer®
- Cat teasers
- Feather wands and ball sticks
- Laser pointers (always give them a little kibble or treat at the end of a laser pointer chase)
And of course, play with them every day. And alternate toys daily to maintain their interest. Cats easily get bored with toys they see every day. If your cat isn’t in the mood to play, leave them alone and don’t force it on them. You can always try again later.
PROVIDE CAT SCRATCHERS
Figure out what your kitty likes best and add scratchers or appealing textures (carpet, cardboard, etc.) in different areas of your home. That way they have an acceptable place to mark by scratching, which is a normal urge they need to release.
USE FOOD STRATEGIES
Your cat’s natural instinct is to hunt for their dinner. To fulfill their need to hunt, think outside the bowl and use a food strategy instead. It forces your cat to work for their food and provides mental stimulation at the same time.
Are you a DIYer? It’s easy to make one yourself. Read our blog post for some ideas and advice on introducing them to your pet (in French). You can also take a few bits of kibble from their daily ration and hide them around the house as a fun game of hide and seek.
KEEP THE LITTER BOX TIDY
Your cat’s elimination area is an important spot. To give them a perfect place to do their business in peace and quiet and prevent house soiling, be sure to keep it clean.
HAVE MULTIPLE CATS AT HOME?
Cats readily adapt to their social environment, but it’s not always easy for them to get along with other cats. Passive aggressive and/or bullying behaviour is common in homes with multiple cats. To avoid feline face-offs, be sure to provide all your cats with an enriched environment.
Each of them should have:
- A quiet corner to relax or spend time alone
- Enough litter boxes, toys, water bowls, food dispensers, and scratching posts
WHAT ABOUT DOGS? AND KIDS?
Have a dog or young children at home? Make sure your cat has access to a room equipped with all the essentials (litter, water, food, scratchers) so they have a refuge away from the rest of the family when they need it.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Listen to our webinar Chat : Conseils pour bien vivre ensemble (in French) for more information on what your feline friend needs to be happy!