Dr. Al Townshend
The feline species has been around for some 25-35 million years. It has only been within the last 10-12,000 years that cats began their relationship with humans, and a short 70-80 years since cats have been inside the home.
Living indoors is a much more secure and safe environment than fending for themselves outside. In the home, food and water are provided, and they are not exposed to the weather or other predators. What else could our beloved feline companions ever need?
Our furry feline companions require much more than food, water, and a clean litter box. They have been solitary hunters and predators through almost all their evolution. Their hunting skills and survival in the wild depend on a keen sense of their surroundings. The sounds, motions, and smells that alert them to potential prey or danger are what have allowed their species to survive and become apex predators.
The short time that cats have been kept in the home has done little to alter those characteristics. Even in the house, cats are alert to changes, curious, and at times, mysterious.
They like to be up high to survey their surroundings, scratch to keep their claws sharp, they’re curious, and chase objects. These characteristics have not been diminished in the time cats, and humans, have evolved together to the extent they have with the canine species.
To try and discourage or deny these natural instincts can only lead to frustration on the part of the Guardian and the cat, which discourages the bond we all want with our four-legged companions. It is one of the most common causes of feline behavioral issues within the home.
All animals, including cats, have natural behaviors and needs. Their health and happiness depend on opportunities to express those natural behaviors. Meeting those needs helps to enrich their life, lower the risk of behavioral issues, and encourages a stronger bond between the pet and Guardian.
Enriching a Cat’s Life
There are many ways of enriching the daily life of a cat. Some are inexpensive, others cost a bit more, and some require your time; however, they all are crucial to encouraging an indoor feline companion’s healthy and happy life.
Self-play toys that encourage chasing, pouncing and stalking.
- Simple items like a box or paper bag can entertain a cat for days
- Safe toys of all sorts, small stuffed animals they can attack and bat around
- Be sure and have a variety and alternate them periodically to rekindle interest.
- Toys with catnip are always appealing.
Waving a wand-type toy with a string and feather or cloth on the end can stimulate their predator instincts and improve the Guardian and pet bond.
- Laser pointers and chasing a beam of light can be an exciting and fun time to spend together. Be sure not to point 1the light directly at the cat to avoid the eyes.
- Make sure the pet can catch the tip from time to time; otherwise, they can lose interest quickly.
Play Time and Quiet Time with the Guardians
- The time spent with beloved pets solidifies and enhances a strong bond between the pet and Guardian.
- It helps to establish trust and security for the pet.
Cat Furniture and Scratching Posts
- Cat furniture that supports their natural instincts.
- Cat trees and perches allow them to get up high.
- A covered and secluded feline specific piece of furniture that affords them some quiet time.
- A window perch that allows them a view of an outdoor bird feeder or water source.
- Recycling water fountains appeal to those cats attracted to running water.
- Scratch posts are essential to redirect their natural instincts to scratch, away from the furniture.
- The material should be appealing and effective in cleaning and sharpening their claws.
- Cats like things clean.
- The litter box needs to be cleaned frequently. The box’s design and the litter should be appealing to ensure regular use.
- Food bowls need to be clean.
- Water bowls need to be clean, and the water should always be fresh.
Puzzles and Challenges
Puzzles and food challenges help to stimulate many of a cat’s natural instincts.
- “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back” is a famous phrase that addresses a cat’s curiosity and how satisfying their natural curiosity is a pleasurable experience.
- Toys and puzzles that have a treat inside stimulate them mentally and physically. We carry a selection of puzzle toys that can help.
Keep your cat actively engaged throughout their daily routine with enriching activities that support their natural instincts in a positive way.