How can you make your home a kitty haven? Cats can be stressful animals. Many diseases can be caused, or worsened, by a cat being unusually stressed. As cat owners, we can do a number of things to make our homes as stress-free as possible.
Hiding places: Does your kitty have a safe place to hide? One that they enjoy spending time that is quiet and that is out of reach of children/other animals. Each cat will have different needs when it comes to a safe space to use what you know about your pet to create their haven. Options include placing a cardboard box or cat bed in a quiet area, having a cat house/tree with a perch out of reach, or having a special room that they know is safe.
Toys: Cats can be picky when it comes to toys, but it is important for us to find something they enjoy playing with. Try some different types of toys until you find what’s right for your kitty. Some cats prefer interactive toys that involve owner participation.
Litter: Studies have shown that cats often do have litter box preferences. Each cat is an individual so preferences may vary from the general population, but in general, we have seen that cats prefer uncovered, deep, clumping clay litter (unscented), in a quiet area (ie. not next to the loud scary washing machine).
Perching: Cats are very curious creatures. They love to see what’s going on in the world around them. This is why it’s important to provide perches (anything that allows them to lie, sit, sleep or look outside from above). Cat trees are excellent examples of perches! Other options include placing furniture (couch, chair, etc) in front of a window or making a window seat (you can actually buy cat window perches) so they can observe outside. Cat’s enjoy being high, so providing levels for them to climb, like a cat tree can help make them feel more secure and content in their environment.
Scratching: Scratching is a natural behaviour for cats. They use it to stretch their muscles, shed old cuticle, sharpen their claws, and leave scent marks. It is important to allow cats to participate in this natural behaviour at home, but also essential to keep your furniture safe. Scratching posts are a great way to let your cat scratch. There are vertical scratching posts (for the kitty that likes the leg of the couch) or horizontal scratching posts (for the kitty that loves the carpet). Make sure the post is tall/long enough for your cat to stretch out their entire body and legs.
If you have trouble with your cat not using the post, but still using your furniture, place the post in front of/near the object in question, while also putting a cover on your furniture. Once the cat is consistently using the post, you may slowly move it to an ideal place.
Written by: Monica Blanchard, RVT