Updated: Jul 31, 2020
As time goes on more and more cats are being kept indoors by their owners – and millions of small, furry native critters that are now living fulfilling lives are thankful for that – but how can we keep our cats lives fulfilling if they live indoors?
While our ability to find the warm spot is legendary, we cats are not by nature indoor creatures, having evolved as hunters on the plains, in the jungles and up the mountains of the world. We are sleek, windswept, worldly rugged creatures of the world.
But this also means that we have a tendency to stress when we feel confined or don’t feel in control of our environment.
An individual cats’ propensity to stress is influenced by their own temperament, the surrounding environment, the bond they have with their human and whether there are other animals also living in the house.
This stress can contribute towards a range of health problems including Feline Idiopathic Cystisis (FIC) or Feline Upper Respiratory Disease, as well as behavioural issues that can upset the bond between a cat and its human.
But conversely, reducing the amount of stress in our lives directly leads to better health and behavioural outcomes! “But how?” I hear you ask. Well here are a few things to consider to help reduce your cats’ stress
High places: We like high places for both surveillance and protection, so make sure we have access to vertical space like cat trees or high shelves.
Hiding places: We have evolved as ambush hunters so having places to hide and feel safe are crucial, even if they are just cardboard boxes with holes in them – something that animal shelters have used with great success over the years.
Litter trays: Us cats are vulnerable to urinary issues, so make sure there are enough litter trays for your cats, and that they are large enough for your cat to scratch and turn in. As a general rule you should have 1 for every cat in your house, plus an extra.
Escape routes: We like to have a good view and know where our escape routes are. Please don’t block us in.
Food & Water
Mealtimes: We often like small frequent meals that match the all day “grazing” we tend to do in the wild.
Working for food: We have to work hard for our food in the wild, so it does us no harm to work for our food as pets. Whether you scatter kibble around for us to seek out, use puzzle feeders or treat balls, we cats will get more enrichment by working for our food.
Water: We generally like our drinking water to be away from our food or litter tray, and for preference we like it in wide bowls (that don’t interfere with our whiskers), and we really love moving water sources like taps or fountains.
One of the best ways to keep us enriched is to play with us, especially games that mimic our natural hunting patterns of chasing, pouncing and catching.
We love the tactile nature of this play, so we prefer chasing feathers, mouse toys or balls rather than a laser pointer which we can frustratingly never actually catch!
As a final point, we cats like routine and predictability.
We can live wonderfully fulfilling lives as indoor cats, as long as we receive the enrichment and attention to our needs that we require.
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