Pet Corner: Consider your cat’s needs

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Does your cat have you well-trained?

Do you jump when your cat says meow? Does your daily routine revolve around your cat’s feeding, playing and sleeping habits?

If so, you are like millions of other people who consider their cats almost human.

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A unique bond exists between a person and his or her furry feline roommate.

Cats are naturally comfortable and feel right at home outside in the wild.

However, keeping cats indoors is much safer.

Indoor cats are at a much lower risk for injuries associated with the outdoor environment such as cars, predators, and other cats.

Indoor cats are at far less risk of contracting parasites and infectious diseases.

Studies show cats that go outdoors have, on average, two years shorter life spans.

If you decide to keep your cat indoors, you should be aware of the extra responsibility to ensure the environment offers the cat the opportunity to express its natural behaviors.

Cats natural behavioral needs include hunting, playing, and exploring.

Also, cats need to be able to hide and to feel in control.

One of the most important considerations for an indoor cat is how you are going to keep him occupied 24 hours a day.

Why does your cat need to hunt when you feed it so well?

Cats don’t always hunt because they are hungry.

Cats react to the sight and sound of prey with instinctive stalking behavior.

Anything that moves rapidly or squeaks in a high pitch can trigger this behavior.

Indoor cats need to have regular and frequent play sessions.

You should select toys that mimic real play in terms of size, texture and color.

Cat play structures that offer climbing and hiding are ideal. Scratching posts are also essential.

Does your cat need to be fed at specific times?

Cats are not social feeders, and so mealtimes are not vital to them.

“Free choice” feeding, eating whenever they want, is most natural to them.

This can lead to obesity in many cats.

It is important to remember wild cats must hunt and kill their prey before they can eat.

The whole feeding process takes some considerable time and effort.

Cats that have access to the outdoors may compensate by spending time hunting.

Indoor cats need a different approach.

Puzzle feeders or feeder toys are available, which require the cat to work to gain access to the food.

Another option is to scatter their food around the house in several bowls and let your cat hunt for it.

Why does your cat climb on the refrigerator or the tallest places in the house?

Cats need to climb.

Getting up high is an instinctive way to relieve stress.

When your cat is feeling under pressure, he/she will find a high-up resting place. High vantage points allow your cat to observe the world from a place of safety.

Similarly, hiding is another coping strategy for cats.

You should allow your cat to withdraw into safety for short periods.

If hiding persists, you should consult your veterinarian to ensure your cat lives a long, healthy and happy life.

Dr. Jeff Castle is a veterinarian at Clark County Veterinary Clinic.