Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Enrichment for your cat

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Enrichment for cats is extremely important. Not having the proper enrichment this can lead to medical problems and even unwanted behavioral issues like inappropriate urination. 

If you have brought your cat to the veterinarian due to any unwanted behavior, they may have discussed your cat is stressed out. How can a cat, who we believe we provide the world too, be stressed out? 

Cats are sensitive

I tell all my clients that move your couch 1 inch to the left and watch your cat get stressed. Any little change can create a bad environment for your cat, even someone knocking on your door or someone leaving for a trip.

So how do we ensure that your cat doesn’t get stressed?

Provide a scratching area

Yes, even if your cat is declawed they should have an area to scratch. Cats have a natural urge to scratch. Not only will it help remove the old material from their claws but will also mark their territory. 

When you provide an appropriate place for your cat to scratch you can reward them with treats, love or a friendly pat. Make sure the scratching post is next to an area your cat favors to make the post more enjoyable.

Provide a high place to relax

Cats love to climb. Providing a tall cat tower is one way to provide a place for your cat to appropriately climb, but also putting shelves on walls to provide an area for your cat to climb up and sit is another way to offer it.

This increases their overall amount of space. It also provides a place for them to escape to. Providing a stimulus for them to watch is always a plus and placing this next to a window would be beneficial for them. 

Provide a place to hide

Finding a place to hide is normal for cats. This helps provide protection from predators and they can also have a great place to watch for prey. It can also help when they need to get away from the daily stressors in your home. 

Toys

Providing toys and taking the time to spend with your cat and their toys is a great way to stimulate them. Finding what toys your cat likes can take time, it can be anything from hunting toys, feather toys, mice, laser, etc.

Feeding time

Cats like to hunt for their food, so providing the same food in a boring bowl daily can really stress them out. We are not saying to change your cat’s food daily but providing a different way to feed them is what we are implying. 

There are great hunting toys for cats, whether it be Doc and Phoebe or whether it be a treat ball. Providing a toy for dinner is much more appealing than just a bowl. 

Let them enjoy outdoors (if they want)

We can do this by teaching your cat to walk on a leash or getting a cat stroller, so they can enjoy the fresh air and all the stimulus the outdoors has to offer. It is safer and healthier for your cat to be under control when outside and not roaming. Make sure your cat is always up to date with all vaccinations and on flea and tick prevention especially if you take them outside!

Provide the correct litter box situation

However many cats you have plus one is the typical rule for litter boxes. Do you have the boxes next to each other? This would only count as one box. If you have more than 1 story in your house, make sure you have one on each level. If you have a top on them, remove it.

Also using unscented clumping litter is important as this is what cats typically prefer. Making sure your cat’s litter box is cleaned at least once a day. Some cats will not use a litter box that was already used today.

These are just the basic kitty litter box rules.

An indoor environment can be stressful for cats. Watch your cat’s clues to see if your cat is stressed and needs some changes. Work with your veterinarian to make sure you provide the correct enrichment and changes to make your cat live a healthy, happy life.

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