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Posted on 03-26-2015

Cats have five needs beyond food, water, and shelter to keep them healthy and make them good companions to live with.  Providing for these needs helps reduce “bad” behaviors.  It keeps the cat healthier and allows the owner to tell when the cat is ill sooner.  The cat is easier to handle at home and elsewhere, which strengthens the bond between owner and cat, and most importantly – makes happier cats. 

A Safe Place

A safe place for the cat is a private place that makes them feel protected.  It may be a cardboard box, an enclosed (slipper) bed, a cat condo, or even the carrier if it is introduced correctly.  This is the cat’s retreat when it feels threatened.  When the safe place is set up properly, you may even find the cat sleeping or just resting there.

Multiple and Separated Key Resources

This means that every cat has its own food and water bowl that is not directly next to a housemate’s.  There should be about two feet between the food bowls.  Also, if there is more than one cat in the household, there should be more than one litterbox.  Remember how you feel when you are waiting for the bathroom.  Cats can’t “cross their legs”.   Another need is a place to groom their claws and deposit their scent; i.e. a scratching post or pad.  The kneading motion deposits the cat’s scent and helps to make it feel more secure.

Opportunity To Play

For the cat, most play activity is predatory-related.  Classically, this is the feather wand toy or the laser pointer.  Other forms would be puzzle feeders or large soft toys that can be kicked.  The idea is that the cat can still run, jump, kick, or bite without damage to humans.  There should be toys of the type each cat likes in the household and they should also be switched out for different ones on a regular basis.  Do not use hands or feet to play with a cat, as this can injure one or both of you.

Predictable Interactions

Do not force the cat to come to you.  Get to the cat’s level and bring the cat to you with offers to play or treats.  Most cats prefer gentle stroking on the head and cheeks initially.  Once you gain their trust, other areas may be permitted.  Keep the interactions short, unless the cat wants more.  Each cat should have its own time alone with the owner with no other cats interfering.  It may not be more than a few minutes, but it should be at about the same time every day, simply because cats love routine.

Smell is Important

The cat’s nose is hundreds of times more sensitive than a human’s.  This means, if we can smell it, it is overpowering to the cat.  Be careful of using strongly scented cleaners.  The scented litter may smell great to us, but may be offensive to the cat.  Cats like to deposit their scent from their paws or cheeks to make them feel safe.  Scratching posts, pads and corner combs allow them to do this without damage to the owner’s belongings.

These five things help make the cat happier, more willing to live with us, and over all much healthier.  If you have questions about these environmental needs and how to supply them for your cat; please call us.

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