Cats are wonderful, fun and unique creatures. They have needs that are very different from dogs and people. Understanding why cats behave the way they do can go a long way in enhancing the bond between you and your cat.
Some things to keep in mind:
– A cat needs a place where she can feel safe and secure. Where she can retreat to when she needs to feel protected or just wants to rest without being disturbed. Most cats prefer a place that is just big enough for them selves, has sides around it and is up off the ground. Examples include a sturdy cardboard box, a raised cat perch or even a cat carrier.
– Cats prefer to have their resources separated. Nobody wants to eat in the bathroom, including cats. Areas for eating and drinking, a bathroom, a play area and sleeping areas should be located in different parts of the house. Separation reduces the risk of competition between cats and helps alleviate stress.
– Cats are predators and enjoy the opportunity to hunt. Toys that mimic prey, such as a toy mouse pulled across the floor or feathers on a wand allows a cat to “capture” its prey. Using food puzzles is another way for your cat to be stimulated. Rotating toys helps stave off boredom and frustration.
A lot of cats enjoy human interaction. Every cat is different, but with a little trial and error, you can learn what your cat prefers. Examples include playtime, snuggle time, being picked up or simply sitting on your lap.
– Cats have sensitive sniffers and they use this enhanced sense of smell to evaluate their surroundings. Cats mark their scent by rubbing their face and body on things, depositing natural pheromones. This establishes boundaries and territory. It’s best to avoid cleaning these areas off, if possible, especially when introducing a new cat into the household. Synthetic pheromones, such as Feliway® can mimic a cat’s natural pheromones and provide a calming effect during stressful or unfamiliar situations. Harsh smells, such as scented products, cleaners or detergents can be threatening or just annoying. Cats can act out when stressed by scratching or spraying in undesirable areas or by urinating or defecating outside the litter box. If your cat is doing any of these things, contact your veterinarian. It is very important to determine if your cat is sick or just acting out. Treating your cat inappropriately can lead to further illness or to further behavior problems.