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Essential resources for your cat - Cats Protection

Cats should be provided with a stimulating and safe indoor environment, whether they go outside or not. If your cat is kept constantly indoors, then this is particularly essential.  Ideally, offer enough resources by providing one per cat, plus an extra one, distributed in different places about the home.

Feeding and drinking

Cats like to eat and drink away from their litter tray, as understandably, it’s more hygienic. However, many people don’t realise that cats also like to have their food and water bowls in separate places to each other too. Eating and drinking are quite vulnerable activities. Try placing the bowls slightly away from the wall, so that a cat can sit with its back to the wall and is therefore able to view their surroundings, which can help them feel safer.

Hunting, play and exercise

Keep your cat amused with toys, climbing towers or activity centres. These can be bought or made – a cardboard box with holes cut into it or a ball of tin foil can be perfectly adequate. Play is more fun if you get involved too – you could use fishing rod toys with feathers on a string to mimic their prey! Older cats may love playing three or four times a day, but the type of play may need to be adapted to suit their needs and level of mobility.  Younger cats may be happy to play ten times a day or more.  Never play with a kitten or cat with your fingers or toes – it may seem fun when they’re small, but cats can learn that this is a good way to interact with people and can lead to more painful, ambushing-type behaviour as they get bigger.

Somewhere to hide

It is important to always provide your cat with an easily accessible place to hide which will help to make him feel safe and secure. There are many things that can cause a cat to feel anxious or fearful, such as fireworks, building work in the house, unfamiliar visitors or conflict with other cats and the cat’s normal coping mechanism is to hide. A hiding place can be something as simple as a cardboard box on its side (or upside down with large holes for access) or an igloo style cat bed.

Somewhere to get up high

Another important resource for a cat is elevated perches. Not only does it increase their territory by providing extra vertical space that they can use, but cats feel safer if they view their surrounding from up high. This is another important normal coping mechanism for cats that feel anxious or fearful. All high places that are desirable to cats need to be easily accessible and extra consideration should be given to elderly cats.

Sleeping

On average, cats spend about 16 hours a day sleeping. Cats generally rest or sleep throughout the day and will prefer to sleep in a warm, comfortable place.  Popular places include the owner’s bed or sofa, owner’s lap, airing cupboard or near the boiler and anywhere that catches the sun.

Scratching

A scratching post will provide exercise, claw maintenance and a focal point for your cat to express this behaviour – it will help protect your furniture too. Cats like to stretch and scratch after they wake up, so try placing the scratch post near their bed.  A good scratch post has the following:

  • A strong sturdy base so the cat can lean against the post without it wobbling
  • Tall enough that the cat can stretch fully and a vertical thread to scratch downwards 

Toileting

It is a good idea to have one litter tray per cat, plus one extra in different places – especially if your cats are kept indoors. Cats don’t like using dirty or soiled trays so make sure the litter tray is cleaned at least once a day. This helps to prevent accidents as well as being more hygienic.  Most cats prefer a fine sandy-grain litter.

Eating grass

There is a type of grass that cats particularly like called Cocksfoot; it has long broad leaves so it is easy for them to bite. If your cat can’t go outside, Cocksfoot grass can be grown indoors. Seeds are available from garden centres, pet shops and Cats Protection. If no grass is provided, your cat may try to eat other household plants.

Please visit our Understanding feline Origins e-learning programme http://www.cats.org.uk/cat-care/e-learning-ufo-care/ and our Essential guides to understand more about your cat’s behaviour www.cats.org.uk/cat-care.care-leaflets

This article is intended as a guide only. Always seek veterinary advice regarding a change in your cat’s behaviour. If your vet feels the problem is behavioural, then contact a qualified behaviourist such as a member of the Association of Behaviour Counsellors (www.apbc.org.uk)

Cats Protection © November 2014

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