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.

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"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

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