If we ask pet owners what’s the most important thing they want for their pet, a good quality of life would top the list. In addition to maintaining proper physical health, improved mental health will contribute to the well being of our animal companions.
Poor mental health in pets can lead to behavioral disorders. If left untreated they can become as serious as physical ailments. Cats, in particular, are often seen as independent, self-sufficient animals. However, poor welfare and chronic stress can exacerbate mental and physical health problems. To help improve the mental health of your cat, Newtown Veterinary Specialists offers some useful suggestions:
Managing your cat’s environment
Litter box issues can lead to unnecessary stress. Ideally, the number of litter boxes should be one more than the number of cats in the household. If there are two cats in the home, there should be three litter boxes. Be sure to have one litter box on each level of the home.
Litter boxes should be kept in quiet areas so the cat will be comfortable and not startled by loud noises. Position the litter box so cats can’t trap one another, which would cause anxiety with every use. Scoop litter boxes at least once a day to keep them clean and appealing for the fastidious feline.
Food and water
Unnecessary stress can also be caused by food and water issues. There should be a minimum of one food and one water bowl per cat to prevent competition over eating and drinking. Dishes should be kept in a quiet place to prevent the cat from being startled and associating that negative experience with mealtime. Food and water should be changed daily so it’s tasty and fresh for fussy kitties.
Cats are most vulnerable when they sleep. They should be able to rest feeling safe and secure. The most preferred locations are quiet ones, where cats can escape members of the family if they so choose. This is why cats can be found on top of the refrigerator or kitchen cupboards, under the bed, behind the couch or under the covers.
Don’t disturb cats while they sleep. Just as we don’t want to be bothered while we sleep, neither does your cat. By letting them sleep peacefully they’ll be more likely to interact with you when they’re ready.
It’s important for cats to have their own clean bedding in various locations. This will give them a refuge where they feel safe and comfortable. A cat bed, blanket or towel, tucked away in a quiet part of the home, will let your cat feel like he or she has a comfy, private place to take a good solid cat nap.
Enhancing your cat’s environment
Cats like to scratch
Scratching, a natural behavior, helps sharpen claws, leave scent marks, shed old cuticles and stretch muscles. Cats that have been declawed still have the instinct to scratch.
There are many ways for you to encourage appropriate scratching and help save your furniture and drapes. For example, cats that scratch chair legs or couch corners would probably prefer a vertical scratching post. The post should be tall enough for the cat to stand up and stretch to scratch. It should be stabilized so it doesn’t move or tip over and scare your cat. Cats that prefer to scratch rugs and carpets would likely prefer a horizontal scratching post.
When selecting a scratching post, it’s best to choose a material that’s similar to what your cat likes to scratch. Many cats prefer scratching posts made of rough material, such as sisal (a coarse natural fiber), carpet or cardboard. Since cats leave their scent marks on the posts, it’s a good idea to have multiple scratching posts throughout their territory, such as in sleeping areas and at room entrances.
Cats like to perch
Cats are very curious and like to know what’s going on around them. They can hear sounds and detect smells from outside, but can’t always see what’s happening. This can be frightening to them. When cats have a perch that positions them above ground level they can safely watch their world and feel more secure.
A perch is basically anything that will allow a cat to sit, lay, sleep or look outside from up above. Perches can be different shapes and sizes and some even attach to windowsills. A couch, chair or table placed next to a window can serve as a perch. To make things more interesting, have a bird feeder outside the area or plant flowers to attract bees, butterflies or other insects. This will keep your curious kitty entertained for hours.
Tabby likes toys
Cats are hunters by nature and have the instinct to pounce. Toys that encourage stalking and pouncing can help cats stay active and healthy. Squeaking, chirping, swinging or vibrating toys will remind cats of moving prey, enticing them to interact. Cats also enjoy toys that have a stick or wand with a toy attached by a string. These interactive toys provide useful, fun playtime as your cat exercises its quickness and agility. Having an assortment of toys that can be rotated will keep play new and exciting while preventing boredom for your best feline friend.
For toy and play safety tips, visit: