Environmental enrichment for cats – furniture
Hello kitty lovers!
In this blog I am going to be talking about how you can create a more exciting and stimulating environment for your cat to live in. I’ve already spoken about the benefits of toys and how they help to relieve boredom and enhance the cat-owner bond. This time I’m going to talk about how you can give your cat the opportunity to do all the things he/she loves whilst indoors, including climbing, hiding and or course observing what is going on around them.
Cats need to opportunity to display their normal behaviour – it makes they feel good, reduces stress, improves health and limits the number of altercations in a multi-cat household.
Space and hiding areas
Vertical space: Cats don’t just like space to run around on the ground. In fact cats love vertical space, in other words: they like to be up high. This allows them to view what is going on around them from a safe vantage point. Don’t forget that cats are prey animals as well as effective predators. This means that the first thing they will do when confronted with danger is run away, second to that they will hide. Being able to ‘see but not be seen’ is ideal for a cat. Providing a variety of hiding areas in the house helps cats to feel more secure and reduces anxiety.
NB: Vertical space is really important in multi-cat households as it allows cats to remove themselves from stressful situations and take time out if need be.
Cat trees or even just a shelf are a really useful way of giving a cat vertical space (see photo) In an ideal set up each cat would have a place up high to rest/observe and hide in each room.
Shelves (see photo) are also a good idea for cats. They can be situated so that a cat can easily jump up or down and rest if possible – putting up several shelves may be necessary to facilitate your cat to move up and down easily. Special cat shelves are available, but regular shelving can be used, as long some material is added to the top of the shelf to make it non-slip.
Boxes: Cats love boxes! Boxes offer shelter and security as well as somewhere to rest. Your average cat just loves a good old fashioned cardboard box to hide in. Next time you have delivery of something keep the box for your cat to hide and play in. Pop up boxes are available and have proven very popular with cats too (see video) as they have holes in to encourage play. You could try being inventive by cutting holes in a large cardboard box and placing treats and toys in the box for extra fun. If your cat has found a box to rest in then it’s probably best undisturbed, it may just want a bit of time out.
Scratching is an important and natural behaviour for cats. It gives them the opportunity to keep their claws in good condition, stretch their muscles and mark their territory with pheromones released from the paw pads. Cats NEED to scratch, it helps to relieve stress and release tension and it plays a massive part in communications between cats. Don’t forget that outside scratching (as well as spraying) is a way of marking territory without the risk of confrontation and fighting, which is extremely important for a self reliant hunter such as a cat. Cats definitely don’t scratch just for the fun of ruining the furniture!
Scratching posts and boards: All cats like to scratch. Some prefer vertical scratching posts, whilst others prefer horizontal boards. Most scratching posts are made from sisal, which is twisted around a post for the cat to scratch. Certain horizontal pads are made of cardboard, which some cats (especially older or arthritic cats) prefer. Ideally there should be one post per cat located in various areas of the house. Don’t just shove a post in the corner of the spare room; it is unlikely to get used there. Posts should be placed in the area where the cat is most likely to spend time as it needs to be easily available when needed – this will also help prevent furniture scratching. It’s also worth considering getting the tallest scratching post possible. This is because cats need to have a good stretch whilst they scratch, which will be difficult if the post is too small. Cats will also use home-made scratching posts, which can be made from sisal or even carpet (esp is the cat is scratching carpet in the house) Some owners find it useful to use catnip or treats to encourage their cat to use a scratching post.
That’s it for today
Purrs and meows
Mr Monkey Business