Cat “owners” will know that you never actually own cats, you are merely the provider of food, warmth and scratches when your kitties allow it. Above this, your duties as a “good human” also include regular litter box cleaning and ensuring there is adequate space and objects to play with between naps. In the interest of keeping your cat in top physical and mental condition, here are some ideas to try.*
Whether it’s a thunderstorm; the growl of the dreaded vacuum monster or an unwanted visitor, cats, especially shy cats, need a safe space to snuggle and hide. Behind headboards and couches, in cupboards or under the bed are favourite choices but, in a panic, your cat may manage to squish themselves into spaces where they could get hurt. Ensuring your cat has a number of safe spaces to sleep, snuggle or hide when they need, will help them feel more secure.
Options for spaces around the house include soft cat cocoons, semi-enclosed beds and cat tents. CatLife, a Columbian-based cat furniture company, have designed a bed base cat maze that gives your cat their own place while using generally unused space.
Room with a View
If your cat’s favourite nap spot is on the windowsill, why not make it an official spot with a cat hammock or window perch? Animal behaviour research has shown that 84% of indoor cats spend a total of five hours or less a day looking out of windows. A sunny window spot provides warmth and environmental enrichment, especially for cats who enjoy trilling or chirping at birds.
Even though they are domesticated, cats have retained their hunting instincts. This can be seen in their preference for being in high places where they can easily survey their surroundings. Tree climbing, walking on tables and counters or perching on top of the couch are all ways in which cats use height to their advantage.
Using vertical space, especially in apartments where gardens are out of reach, is a clever way to give your cat space to explore and exercise. Creating cat walkways out of shelves that blend with your décor is a seamless solution that you can design yourself.
When DIYing, make sure that the maximum shelf weight is less than the weight of your cat or cats and that the shelf is wide enough for your cat to lie on without falling off. Adding non-slip material such as carpet or rubber will also help keep your cat safe.
If your couch hasn’t been destroyed at least once, well done! Clawing and scratching is how cats mark their territory, stretch out and remove the outer layer of their claws as they grow. Having a scratching post with good “scratchability” and a variety of angles in the areas where you spend the most time should help deter your cat from using your couch.
As obligate carnivores, cats get the nutrients they need from meat. They may however need a helping of grass to aid digestion and clear out hairballs every now and again, this is especially true of long-haired breeds.
Cat grass is a specially grown selection of grasses such as wheat, barley, oats and rye that has recently become a popular choice for cat owners. Providing your cat with their own patch of safe, edible roughage is ideal for apartment owners or as a deterrent for cats that like to snack on your pot plants.
Looking to give a cat a loving home? Contact your local pet shelter or SPCA to find your purrfect match!
*A consultation with your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet or environment is recommended.