Cats are an absolute joy to care for, providing fun, companionship and improved health. But to truly be happy, we need our cats to be happy too, so the question begs, ‘what can we do to enhance our furry friends lives?’
There are the basics of cat care: good highly digestible balanced diet, multiple sources of fresh water daily, comfortable thick bedding (or just your bed!), regular grooming (so they are free of matts), a scratching post is essential, daily removal of soiled litter and of course, love.
So, in addition to this here’s a list of tips to follow to help your cat be the happiest they can be:
- Play Time.
This is so essential for your kitty. Play for 20 minutes a day not only to strengthen the bond between you both, but to help your kitty burn energy and combat boredom. Cats love to hunt so play games like chasing a toy mouse on a string that you are moving about the room (always put these away when it’s not playtime and let them catch the toy at the end of the session), or try laser lights on the wall (the movement makes them want to pounce! Just never point it to their eyes). You can also use catnip stuffed toys, and a good tip is to rotate your toys so they get “new” ones each week!
- Vertical space.
Use your walls to create places to climb and perch with comfortable shelving to fit your kitty. Make spaces to hide as well, such as tunnels and even cardboard boxes. By increasing their vertical space you are effectively increasing their living space and giving them more to do. They will love exploring and hiding, and by giving them choices for what to do they are able to exert some control over their life.
- Increase time spent foraging for food.
Try hiding your kitty’s food (kibble) around the house so they have to ‘hunt’ for it! You can also teach your cat to use toys that contain their food, this is sure to keep them mentally occupied.
- Make the carrier a friend.
Help train your kitty to love the carrier, so that there is no stress when it’s needed (holidays, vet visits etc). You can go about this by taking the top off and making it into a bed initially (use catnip or toys as well) and then place the top on, with the door open when they become more accustomed to using the carrier.
Your cat needs your time. Of course cats are individuals and some more affectionate than others, some prefer to be near the family, and some right on top of them! Not all cats want cuddles and it’s not good to inflict our needs onto them. Know what is best for your cat and respond accordingly. Try to handle your kitten all over when they are young so that chores like nail trimming or giving medications when prescribed is an all around stress free process.
- Flexible Routine.
This is important for cats as it gives them some predictability which ultimately decreases anxiety. It certainly doesn’t need to be to the minute each day but regular meal times, play time and time for attention will make for a happier cat.
- Keeping healthy.
A sick cat isn’t a happy cat, a healthy one is! If there’s been a change in their weight, appetite, drinking habits, peeing or poop, presence of vomiting, coughing, change in their demeanour or an increase in their sleeping, something may be up. Have regular veterinary check ups and speak to a veterinarian for advice. Switch from reacting to sickness to being proactive and keeping your fur kid well.