TIPS FOR FELINE FUN

A cat confined indoors enjoys a significantly longer life expectancy because of decreased risk of injury and disease. There are also benefits in terms of wildlife protection and the appreciation of the non-cat lovers in the community. With a bit of extra effort, these cats can still have a lifestyle that meets their needs.
 

Even cats that spend some time outdoors can benefit from mental and physical activity in their home environment. This is particularly true for individuals prone to anxiety disorders. The following suggestions allow cats to focus their energies in a healthy, positive way that helps relieve stress. Cats are individuals so it is important to trial as many of the following as possible so you can identify the elements that your cat appreciates the most.
 

Toys

Cats are very sight sensitive to moving objects, so providing toys with an element of motion will help attract interest and enthusiasm for play, eg:

  • Simple home-made items such as scrunched up pieces of newspaper on the end of a piece of elastic, attached to a stationary object or tied to your belt so they bobble around on the floor behind you as you walk.

  • Balls containing a bell, cat dancers and various furry items such as mice.

  • Toys are available that contain catnip or you might like to grow your own indoor catnip, catmint or catgrass.

  • Table tennis balls or non-toxic soap bubbles can also be fun for cats.
     

Interacting With the Outside World

Cats will often be content with a view of the outside world, even if they cannot venture into it.

  • Access to a window ledge while others may be more satisfied with an enclosed outdoor run that extends out into the garden area.

  • There are companies that specialise in erecting and designing these structures with cats' particular needs in mind.

  • Supervised access to the outdoors on a harness is another alternative.
     

If you have more than one pet and consider there is some tension between different members of the household, you could consider allowing your cat exclusive access to one viewing area that is particularly favoured. It can then become an area of relaxation for this cat that will be identified as a haven from potential threat. Providing a cubby, such as a cardboard box containing an unwashed sweater, in this or other areas of the house will also help your cat feel secure. Making an entry and exit hole and placing it up high also adds to the feeling of security.
 

Games

Cats often enjoy:

  • Chasing concentrated dots of light from a penlight or similar source.

  • Exploring items such as paper bags and boxes, which you can encourage by popping the odd surprise inside - the commercially available "Busy Kitten" takes advantage of this natural curiosity.

  • Searching the house for small piles of food, rather than finding it all in one spot. Train your cat to do this by sprinkling food at gradually increasing distances away from the bowl until your cat catches onto the idea that it is worth looking in hidden spots for its ration.

  • Using a Kitty Kong with food items placed inside it to extend the pleasure of mealtime.

  • Chewing raw chicken wings - these can help keep teeth and gums healthy as well as provide a suitable chew item.

  • Using scratching posts - these can prevent damage to furniture items while allowing the cat to enjoy scratching indoors.

  • Climbing - a suitable post can provide access to areas such as exposed beams and double as a scratching post if covered in a suitable material such as cut pile carpet.

  • Playing with other cats - some young, exuberant cats will appreciate the company of a slightly older, energetic cat who they can play with; however, some individuals prefer solitude.
     

Quality Time

There is quite a marked variation in the amount of time different cats like to spend being cuddled. Many will appreciate extended periods of sitting on your lap, being patted or groomed while others dislike too much physical contact at one time. Some owners like doing some obedience work with their cats that can include teaching tricks or games such as retrieve or hide and seek. With patience they can respond very well to this type of attention.
 

Taking time to make life more interesting for your cat can really increase the quality of life that it enjoys and is an opportunity to give back some of the pleasure that their company gives us.

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Cooks Hill Veterinary Clinic   T: 02 4925 2999    F: 02 4927 5565    info@cookshillvet.com.au   292 Darby Street, Cooks Hill, NSW 2300