Guthrie veterinary clinics, like our Certified Feline Friendly Practice, would like to stress how important it is to meet your cat’s environmental needs. This week Dr. Coffin will present five essential environment needs that will keep your cat physically healthy, emotionally happy and decrease unwanted behaviors.
A cat’s environmental needs include not only the cat’s physical surroundings (indoors and outdoors) but also social interactions with humans and other animals. Unfortunately, these needs are often not addressed until the cat is showing behavioral changes that attract the owner’s attention.
Why is all this important?
- fewer unwanted behaviors
- less illness
- you will be more likely to recognize signs of disease
- easier handling of cats at home and at the veterinary clinic
- improves the bond between you and your cat
- decreased stress in multi-cat households
- happier cats
Cat’s environmental needs:
1. A safe place: You can meet your cat’s environmental needs for a safe place by providing a private and secure area that is on a raised site. Items, like cardboard boxes and carriers, give your cat a sense of enclosure, isolation or seclusion.
2. Multiple and separated key resources: You can meet your cat’s environmental needs for key resources by providing food, water, litter boxes and scratching posts in multiple locations. Each of these key resources should be placed in its own place and separate from the other resources. Dr. Coffin says this is really important in multi-cat households for every cat to have its own separate feeding station so that they do not have to share access with others in the group.
3. Opportunity for play and predatory behavior: You can meet your cat’s environmental needs for play and predation by providing toys and feeding devices that require your cat to actively acquire food. Interact with your cat using a laser pen or wand with a toy attached to the end.
4. Positive, consistent human-cat social interaction: When you are trying to meet your cat’s environmental needs for human interaction make sure not to force this interaction. Let the cat start, choose and control the type of human contact because social preferences vary widely among cats. The amount of contact a cat allows is largely influenced by its level of handling it received at a young age.
5. Respect your cat’s sense of smell: Unlike humans, cats depend upon their sense of smell to explore their environment. You can help with your cat’s environmental needs for smell by avoiding cleaners, detergents and even scented litter. In addition, our Guthrie animal hospital uses synthetic pheromones (Feliway) in the cat exam room and in the cat boarding room to decrease anxiety, increase grooming, stimulate interest in food and helps with the proper use of the litter box. This is a great product to use in a multi-cat household.
Provide these 5 items for your cat’s environmental needs and your house can be “cat friendly”. Your cat will thrive if all these needs are met. Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine has a great website called the Indoor Pet Initiative that provides more detailed information about this topic.[Tweet “Provide these 5 items for your cat’s environmental needs and your house can be “cat friendly”. “]