Enrichment strategies for your cat- more ways for a cat friendly
home
, copyright 2010- 2018 Frania Shelley-Grielen all rights reserved

What are the best ways to create a cat friendly home? Cat lovers when was the last time
you made sure your cat was happy at home? Your feline companions stay indoors all the
time; make sure to create an environment for them that is both enriching and
comfortable.

Begin with your personal relationship with your pet.  While the perception of the
cat as a solitary being may persist, new research continues to show that cats are social
creatures with affiliates and relationships that allow for extended family situations
raising young and hunting. Cats benefit from time spent with select other cats and the
same holds true for time spent with people.   Interaction with humans is a key
component of your cat’s environment and may help to substitute for interactions with
the outside environment and other cats.  The closer your relationship with your cat the
longer and more pronounced your contact.  Studies show that when cats initiate the
communication the duration is much longer than when initiated by a human.  Get
closer to your pet by offering petting (focusing on the head just as another cat would),
grooming or playing.

Interactive play is an incredibly bonding experience between owner and cat. Play is
also both rewarding in its own right and necessary as an activity that just might satisfy
a cat's natural predatory instincts.  John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis writing about how
cat play mirrors hunting behavior note:  "This overlap between play and hunting opens
up the intriguing possibility that owners may be able to satisfy cats' predatory instincts
simply by playing with them."  Use fishing wand toys, “cat dancers” or pieces of string,
etc. all with a human on the other end.  Offer play for at least 5 minutes in the morning
and in the evening.

Cat toys and catnip Toys are important for cats too, cat nip scented toys appeal to some
cats while fur mice are a universal cat hit requiring only a paw to propel.  Loose cat nip
can be rubbed onto scratchers, cat towers or beds.  Do not forget to also leave cat toys
such as fur mice that rattle, balls and other objects for solitary play when you are not
around.

Provide puzzle food feeders for problem solving, fun and to indulge natural
behaviors.  Feeding a portion of your cat's diet this way is a huge positive for your cat's
activity budget spent on the things cats want to do, offers choice and control over
environment, stimulates neural activity and is intrinsically fun and satisfying.  Studies
show that cats who have access to food on an ongoing basis are less likely to exhibit stress
related behaviors such as pica or ingesting foreign objects.  

When it comes to water, make sure it is fresh, away from food bowls and think about
cat fountains.  In a natural environment cats avidly prefer running water -one of the
reasons an open faucet is such a cat magnet.  Cats also drink away from prey they are
consuming or storing.  This serves as a built in instinct not to contaminate water
sources.   

Remember, cats being cats need to scratch.  Scratching feels good, flexes muscles
and sharpens claws.  Confine scratching to acceptable areas by providing scratch boards
for your pet in areas they will likely use them in.  Corrugated cardboard cat scratchers
are intensely satisfying, think of at least two or three, one in every other room.  Rubbing
in dried catnip or applying catnip spray to the scratchers will increase their cat appeal.

Cats spend a good part of their day time sleeping so make sure to provide soft,
comfortable areas such as fleece pads or cat beds; of course, nothing may match a
favorite spot on your very own bed.  Cats, like dogs, have a highly developed sense of
smell and the scent of their favored human guardian is particularly comforting (making
your linens particularly attractive for your cat).   In multiple cat families cats may
share preferred resting spots, either by taking turns or at the same time if their
relationship is a friendly one.

Your cats resting spaces should have at least three sides at ground level and be
at a higher vantage point to provide your cat comfort and security.
  The natural
behavior of a cat is to seek higher spaces to survey their environment or to be concealed.  
Allow this with cat baskets or beds, perches, window seats and cat towers.  Think at least
two different resting areas per cat for maximum contentment and to lessen stress.  Cats
are not known for reconciling conflict through negotiation strategies preferring retreat
and time to develop tolerance.  This predilection leads to solitary down time or at least
time out of each other’s line of sight.

Increasing horizontal and vertical surface area for a cat to utilize amplifies
and enriches your pets living area.
 Cat towers offer multiple levels for cat
interaction but finding floor space for cat furniture in tight quarters may be unrealistic
in a city where space is at a premium.  Cat shelves offer a space solution that maximizes
additional vertical cat resting areas without using precious floor space.  Placing a cat
house, or cat bed on a dresser can also be a great solution.  Do make sure to survey the
area for the most cat friendly access and placement.  Next to a window, in a corner of a
room are usually ideal.  Think how easily the cat can get to the raised area along with
where a cat might have the best vantage point for looking out as well as feel the safest
and least exposed.

Classical music. Studies have found that exposure to classical music is beneficial for
many animals including cats while exposure to rap, heavy metal and other discordant
music is not.  Play classical music at a level slightly lower than you would find
comfortable keeping in mind the cats superior sense of hearing.  Leaving a classical radio
station on especially when you are not home adds in the soothing voices of those velvet
toned announcers for comfort.
"Interaction with humans is a key
component of your cat’s environment
and may help to substitute for
interactions with the outside
environment and other cats.  The
closer your relationship with your
cat the longer and more pronounced
your contact." 
Copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen)
Be feline friendly- approach from the side and pet along the muzzle
(copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen) Approach from the side
and pet your cat  in the areas cat prefer, behind
the ears and along the muzzle
Ask me about a consultation
Provide plenty of raised resting spaces in the right places
(copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen) Cat tower and bench
placed next to a window with extended and
carpeted window ledge
cats love feeling safe in a bed, three sides is key
(Elliot Amiel) Cats love feeling secure in their dens or
the bathroom sink, why a cat bed with at least
three raised sides is preferred
Cats feel safer when able to survey the scene from higher up
(copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen) Cat shelf over a couch for
easy just-a-leap access

How to make
a cat friendly
home
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The cat friendly home offers the opportunity for total relaxation