If you have a cat or 2 or 3, then you *really* need to keep them happy- not just because it’s a good thing to do, but because there is a direct link to disease. Such as recurrent FLUTD ( Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease). There are many things to do for this condition, and one in particular involves supplementing with glycosaminoglycans.( nutrients which can help decrease inflammation in the bladder wall lining).
In my Paws for Raw, Whole food for Healthy Pets book, I offer a complete guide to how to use homeopathic remedies for all health concerns including mental and emotional ones like the restless dog or shy cat. This is me and one of two new kittens, Snowy who was rescued from an abandoned building and decided this was her home.
Having two new kittens in the home required some integration of them to the exiting feline pride and the pride together and as individuals, so that the matrix could find a new pattern of harmony. I did this through an energetic matrix session to balance the home and avoid unnecessary territorial hissing, spraying, fighting and what not. Within two days of the formula running it was like they had always been here.
Each pack member played their part. Splash the only other neutered 2 year old female took it upon herself to be the discipliner, Blue the dominant male chose to get them street wise and climbing, hunting and pouncing. Toby the old boy made it very clear to leave him alone to sleep and that his soft, warm spot between the pillows was out of bounds and Winston, well Winston my blind old boy he took the role of being guided by two new hungry kittens to call him when there was food going around.
Along with my daughter Thalia, each one of our felines created more enrichment to each other and the dance got richer and more joyful for us all.
Domesticated cats need stimulation, give them each a role to play for you, for each other and within the home. With these youngsters who had had a rough start when they lost their mothers, the table manners – licking spoons, stealing food at every opportunity and some other not so great habits had to be resolved through the energy work and some good old fashioned scruff of the neck hissing and swatting by us humans and authoritarian Splash who just pinned them down and sat on them. Now they are getting bigger, she chases them and relentless in getting them to know their place in the hierarchy around here.
Our cats get the run of the secure property inside and out and know the birds are out of bounds in the hunting adventures. Every now and again they kill and devour one of the fat pigeons and of course the rats and lizards are fair game. We feed a raw whole food diet but live prey, well is a cats prerogative! Drinking out our glasses with rat breath – a hazard of living with cats. House cats might be safer living indoors, but I believe they’re becoming fat and brain-dead. And those aren’t the only complications our feline friends face from lack of environmental enrichment.
Tony Buffington, DVM, PhD, DACVN, professor of veterinary clinical sciences at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, has linked the lack of stimulating surroundings to interstitial cystitis, which may in turn lead to inappropriate elimination. And inappropriate elimination is a significant cause of owner relinquishment. The truth is, a lack of stimulation can cause a litany of additional behavioral issues as well.
And what about contentment?
It seems that cats are happiest just being cats—pouncing and hunting. It doesn’t matter that they’re hunting treats in food puzzles or pouncing on a feather toy that disappears behind the sofa. They’re still being cats.
So what can we do?
We could encourage pet owners to allow their cats back outdoors to wander freely, but that solution might not be in the cat’s best interests or safety. It’s true, outdoor cats are not as likely to become bored or obese, but they do get hit by cars, are attacked by wild animals, could nibble on toxic plants or substances, and can get into fights with other cats. They also don’t always make good neighbors—leaving “gifts” in neighbors’ yards and causing neighbors’ indoor-only cats to spray in their homes (a territorial response to the outdoor cats on their territory). Sending you cat visual imaging of all the above through animal communications works a dream. Want to know how to be your own Doctor Doolittle, check out the home study complete guide to learning animal communications and healing tools in the store.
Instead, how about we teach our clients how to enrich their cats’ environments? Enrichment is just a fancy term for manipulating the environment to suit the animal’s normal behaviors or encouraging the animal’s behavior to match the environment.
With cats, there are two issues to keep in mind:
Balance: While enrichment can prevent behavioral problems, address and help to solve existing behavioral issues, and even improve feline health, too much change can lead to anxiety, which could lead to illness.
Individuality: All cats are different and just as we have different preferences, so do cats. What seems like a fun idea for one cat, might lead to stress or just bore another cat.
Here are a few ideas to help to enrich the environment and lives of indoor-only cats:
- Reuse and recycle: Leave out an empty box on Monday. On Tuesday, place the box upside down, put something on top to weigh it down, and cut “mouse holes” in the sides; cats can reach inside for treats you’ve hidden. On Wednesday, turn the box right side up and sprinkle catnip inside. On Thursday relocate the box to another room. On Friday, place a small ball or squeaky toy inside the box.
- Look up for inspiration: Use elevated spaces, such as window ledges, cleared bookshelves, or cat trees. If you’re really ambitious, build catwalks. In multi-cat homes, the more raised surfaces for individual cats to call their own, the less conflict between cats.
- Use visual aids: Outdoor bird feeders are entertaining for both people and cats. Some cats also enjoy watching DVDs featuring birds or reptiles. And laser lights can be great, especially for kittens or active cats. With lasers, it’s important that throughout the game and at its finish, you drop a piece of kibble or a cat treat so the cat actually gets to “kill” something. I love hearing the laughter from Thalia as she gets the cats to leap sometimes above the top of the door frames to get the laser. She has even taught Splash to turn on the light switch and open the door from the vanity in the bathroom.
- Plant a bed or tray of indoors of catnip – dry it and put it in socks. Hide it under tables or pillows and let them sniff it out. Watching them roll in ecstatic bliss from the catnip is one of my favourites.
Thalia found some cat apps and cat tunes on her iPad and spends many hours playing with which ever cat is curious and wants to play. She even found one cat meditation she said the kittens love to go nap with! We created a few of our own tunes as well and love their interaction. You can hear then sing along below.
Not only does giving your cats entertainment keep them happy and moving, but it adds to much joy to our own lives.