Five Ways to Keep Your Cat's Environment Healthy
Cats thrive when they have a private place where they feel safe and secure. This is because cats are hardwired to look for perceived threats and danger. Provide your cat a perch or cat home where they can retreat if they feel uncomfortable. Some cats prefer their retreat to be elevated above the activity in the room while others prefer to be beneath the action. You can try several options including a cat tree with an elevated perch, shelves mounted to the walls and/or cardboard boxes on the floor or tables. If you have multiple cats, you should at least have an elevated safe space for each cat.
Additionally, you can create an outdoor enclosed area for your cat that is easily accessible from inside the house through a cat door. This provides your cat a safe location and allows them to explore and play in nature.
To transport your cat, use a cat carrier with a blanket, familiar toy or cat bed so that your cat is surrounded by a familiar scent. You can also use unwashed t-shirts from your cat’s favorite person.
Food, water, litter boxes, toys, sleeping areas and safe areas should be located separately. Food and water should be located in one room. Litter boxes in another, and toys and sleeping and safe areas should be located in different rooms or in different areas of large rooms. This is good for single and multi-cat households. In single cat households, it gives your cat multiple options for playing or resting. In multi-cat households, it allows individual cats to go off on their own and play, rest or unwind.
Cats are primarily hunters, and there toys and food should allow for that behavior. Food can be placed in puzzle feeders, which can be bought at All About Cats, in pet stores, online or built by hand. Puzzle feeders require cats to use their senses to locate and acquire their food. Toys can also be hidden in boxes or under furniture so your cat has to ‘hunt’ for his or her favorite object. Occasionally applying catnip to the cat toys can add a little excitement to the day, although some cats get undesirable temporary aggression from catnip.
Balls, toys on strings or springs with bases provide exercise and entertainment for your cat. You can also play with your cat using a red laser pointer or feather or other object on the end of a string. Regular rotation of the toy selection helps keep things fresh.
Cats are companion animals, which means they bond with their owners. Creating predictable human/cat interactions helps facilitate and maintain this bond. You should provide your cat with predictable, positive and consistent interaction, including cuddling, playing or brushing, and it should start at an early age. However, it is important to take your cues from your cat. Some cats only want a specific amount of human interaction time.
Cats use their sense of smell to evaluate and examine their home environment. Unfamiliar scents can cause anxiety in your cat including odors from things such as cleaning agents, room deodorizers and cigarette smoke. A cat’s comfort level and behavior may change when disrupted by this type of environmental change.