Everyone knows the potential problems that come with an unhappy, understimulated cat: litter box problems, inappropriate scratching, self-isolating, reduced appetite and so on. Not a situation anyone wants to be in, especially the cat. Dr. Tony Buffington, Professor of Veterinary Clinical Services at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine has developed a simple series of suggestions for preventing stress-related health problems. How to keep cats healthy and happy? Dr. Buffington, says keep them active!
Of course, it’s helpful to encourage your cat to exercise, but it’s not that simple with cats, is it? Here are some ways to get your cat moving, thinking and relaxing happily AND with little effort from you.
1. Give cats free access to food and water-
Each cat needs their own food and water bowl that is in a spot away from other pets. Offer the best cat food according to your cat’s preferences, making changes only if they “approve” the choice. Change the way the food is served, such as in puzzles bowls or through offering cat food with protein that is tasty too, as in chicken and fish meals that have a crunchy texture and are nutritionally complete; for the best cat food view recipes here.
2. Provide clean, visually interesting litter boxes-
Ah, the litter box! Cats need to relieve themselves AND mark their territory as well. They are smart and sensitive to their environment which means the size, colour and location of the litter box makes a big difference for them. Cats usually prefer fine-grained and unscented litters that are in a private place and they certainly appreciate an extra litter box that is scooped daily and washed regularly.
3. Let cats use scratching and climbing structures-
Give cats a place to climb and scratch and save your furniture. Scratching posts and places to climb can be anything as long they are sturdy and don’t scare the cat when they use it. Cats will likely enjoy them in places where other people in the family are and put some smaller scratching pieces in other parts of the house.
4. Set up a safe and secure resting area-
Cats want to feel safe when they are resting. Give them a soft blanket or towel in a place where they can stretch out in the sun or hide, such as a closet in a bedroom.
5. Play with your cat-
This is the easiest and most fun: pretend that you are hunting with them. You can use toys or anything simple, that you roll across the floor or hide. Leave some items on the floor to allow your cat to hide and peek at the “prey” as well. Brushing or petting them is also a mode of play for the cat. Regardless of how active your cat likes to be, enjoy the interaction and your cat will be healthier.
Written by Johnny Mantini who loves writing and playing with his cats.