A Cat Friendly Home – Make Your Cat Happy in Five Easy Steps | Lola The Rescued Cat
Monday, September 28, 2020

A Cat Friendly Home – Make Your Cat Happy in Five Easy Steps

Welcome to the first post in our new series, Enriching Your Cat’s Life. Today we’re going to discuss the importance of creating a cat friendly home.


Make Your Cat Happy in Five Easy Steps Twitter graphic


A Cat Friendly Home


The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) advises cat parents to keep their furry loved ones indoors so they are protected from the many dangers that lurk outside. But just like humans, cats have needs to keep them happy and make them feel secure. When you endeavor to meet your cat’s environmental needs, you are providing enrichment for their daily life as well as helping them avoid environmental stressors that could lead to unwanted behaviors or medical concerns.


Indoor cats still retain the behavioral instincts of their wild ancestors which include hunting, scratching, and hiding. A cat friendly home provides an enriching environment that is safe, stimulating, and allows your cat to perform their natural behavior. A cat’s environmental needs include not only their physical surroundings but also their social interactions with people and other pets.

"Having a basic understanding of the cat’s species-specific environmental needs and how cats interact with their environment will provide a foundation for addressing these fundamental requirements." AAFP and ISFM Feline Environmental Needs Guidelines

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) identify five primary concepts, or pillars, that provide cat parents with a structure to create an enriched, healthy, and happy environment for their cats. 



Make Your Cat Happy in Five Easy Steps


1. Provide a Safe Place


Cats need their private, secret hideaways to retreat to; one that makes them feel safe and protected. The goal is to give your cat a feeling of enclosure, isolation, and/or seclusion. Ideally, there should be one safe/private space per cat in the household. Below are a few ideas to accomplish this. 


Cardboard Boxes

The quintessential cat hiding spot! When a new box comes into our home, Lexy quickly stakes her claim on it and enjoys retreating to it when she needs some personal space and time. Boxes that are strategically placed around the house give your cat a wonderful refuge.


Cat Friendly Home black cat in a box


A Cat Carrier

A cat carrier is a perfect place for your cat to hide when they need a break from daily activities going on in the house. Every time I leave ours out Lexy goes right into it. I always leave a pad in the bottom for some added comfort. (This tip also has another benefit; the carrier smells more like home and reduces stress when you need to transport your cat to the vet!)


Cat Friendly Home black and white cat relaxing in a carrier


Wall Perches

Cats are natural climbers and love to view their environment from above. A wall perch/shelf provides a high resting place for them to relax. You want to make sure the shelf is wide and long enough for your cat to stretch out, and that it is located in a spot where they are able to get up and down from it easily and safely.


Our friends at Kitty Cat Chronicles made a fabulous climbing system in their home. (Lola and Lexy are very jealous!) 


Cat Friendly home cat shelving system


2. Provide Multiple and Separated Key Environmental Resources


There are a few key resources we need to make sure our cats have easy access to in their indoor environment. These are food, water, toileting areas, scratching areas, play areas, and resting/sleeping areas. You want to ensure each source is located separately, in a different location, so your cat is provided with several choices. In a multi-cat household, separating these items reduces the risk of competition and allows all cats to have free access without feeling challenged by their housemates.

Lola and Lexy have several scratchers around the house, and their feeding stations are separated; one in the kitchen and one in the living room. And I just made a major change in our litter box area to reduce “litter box stalking” and reduce stress.


Lexy has plenty of sleeping areas available that she loves. And as long as Lola has her own pillow on the bed, she's a happy girl.



Cat Friendly Home tabby cat sleeping on a pillow


Note: Lola The Rescued Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated site

3. Provide Opportunities for Play and Predatory Behavior


Even indoor cats must fulfill their natural instinct to hunt. Cat parents can provide an outlet for this by providing opportunities for predatory play and feeding behaviors.

Toys made from feathers and fur that can be easily tossed into the air or pounced on are just like prey to your cat. (Lola just loves tossing her mouse into the air.) Large, soft toys that can be raked and bitten also satisfy a cat’s predatory play needs. (It is helpful to remember that to avoid frustration your cat needs to capture their prey from time to time.) A helpful hint to prevent your cat from getting bored is to rotate their toys.


Food puzzle toys help imitate hunting for food. You can also toss treats or kibble for your cat to chase, or hide food in multiple places so your cat feels like they are locating and capturing their food.


Two cats playing with a food puzzle toy

Interactive toys such as wand toys, a toy mouse you can pull across the floor on a string, or a rollerball toy are great examples. My girls love all three of these. Another favorite is the Cat Dancer Toy.


Tabby Cat Playing With a Jackson Galaxy Prey Toy


4. Provide Positive, Consistent and Predictable Human-Cat Interactions


A majority of cats in a study conducted in 2017 by Dr. Kristen Vitale et al preferred interacting with a person more than eating or playing with a toy. And in a study conducted in 2019, the same team found that cats display distinct attachment styles toward human caregivers. There is no doubt that cats benefit from and enjoy regular interaction with their humans.


Not all cats have the same preferences when it comes to interacting with us, though. Their individual preferences will determine how much they enjoy snuggling on your lap or being petted, groomed, talked to, and played with; all of which may change as they age. The more you know your cat’s preferences, the more you’ll both enjoy your special time spent together.


Tabby Cat Napping on her Mom's Lap


5. Provide an Environment That Respects the Importance of Your Cat's Sense of      Smell


Cats evaluate their environment for security and comfort through their sense of smell. They mark their territory by rubbing their face and body against items, which establishes natural boundaries in their core living area by depositing their pheromones. We need to do our best not to interfere with the scent profiles they have created. 

We can do this by avoiding heavily scented cleaners or litter; taking our shoes off at the front door to avoid bringing in strange smells into the home; and by providing scratching areas that allow a cat to deposit its scent through glands in the pads of its feet.

When your cat’s bedding needs a wash, do it on a rotating basis. This way there is always one bed or blanket that contains familiar scents. Lexy adores her MYLAP Pet Bed, which is covered by a pair of my pants and carries my familiar scent. 


Black and White Cat Sleeping on a MYLAP Pet Bed


Conclusion


Providing our cats with an enriched environment keeps them healthier physically and psychologically, and helps them live longer lives with us. When we meet their environmental needs we are ensuring their overall optimal wellbeing.FIX


Cat Friendly Home Pinterest Graphic

Check back for the next installment in this series when we'll be discussing some ways to excite your bored cat. 


What are some things you do to make your home cat friendly? We'd love to hear about them in the comments. 

Dawn

 








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  1. We must be doing pretty good here, even though we don't have any wall perches! Great post!!!

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  2. Good info! We've been planning on putting in a 'cat superhighway', but haven't done it yet, maybe we should start small with a couple of perches. Thanks!

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  3. Both of our inside cat apartments have all the things a cat would need, and even outside has a highway, steps, and all kinds of stuff!
    May need to look at a ramp or steps for Sweetie, however.
    Good post!

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  4. lexy ewe iz WAAAAAAY braver N uz; gettin inta de carrier like that ....:) ♥♥

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  5. We don't have any wall perches...but we have cat trees that we like to climb.

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  6. Pawsome post! Mudpie is drooling over those wall perches. She doesn't have any cat trees either but she does have bookcases to jump on and see out.

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  7. Great post! The only thing we need is wall perches which I have, but need hubby to install. I have had them for at least 5 years. XO

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  8. Great tips!

    I'm an indoor cat too and I only ever go out in the catio.

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  9. I loved the post and I pretty much got it done for Katie. I do need to get her a My Lap bed though. I recall asking you how to get one back when you mentioned them a while ago. Loved the post in its entirety, and it serves as a good reminder in case we get parents need to be nudged into something we used to do. Or need to do.

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  10. We love this post! We don't have wall perches (yet ... MOL), but we do have all those other things here. :)

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  11. Great post, Lola😸That's a great wall, I sure would love to climb that ceiling, if only I was younger. I don't play so much anymore, but I still have my toys😺Pawkisses for a Happy Wednesday🐾😽💞

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  12. I think bringing outdoor scents in is a good idea (but maybe not on your shoes). It gives them something new to investigate. For many years we had long sections of tree trunk in the house as a scratching area.

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  13. Super tips!
    Have a wonderful weekend...

    Noodle and crew

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  15. Great suggestions! Our cats use to hang out on top of the book shelves. It gave them a safe place to hang out. Plus a place to watch what was going on below.

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  16. Great tips, guys! Thankfully our mom and dad do all of these things for us. We will share on our Pinterest!
    Also, thanks for the link-back! :D

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  17. wendy christensen and the Timbertop KittiesOctober 7, 2020 at 6:19 PM

    Our house has, over the years, been customized and optimized for the health, happiness, safety and fun for the felines.

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  18. I wish I had known about the way to keep cats busy, etc when I had 3 cats but in those days it was not as known as today but am learning just in case I one day get one again. Great post and ideas

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