Cat Happiness Solo Cat
Pet cats retain many behaviors of their wild ancestor, Felis lybica, a solitary hunter of African and Arabian savannas and grasslands. As small cats, they evolved as both predator and prey, and most feline behavior is designed to enable the cat to hunt safely (eating up to 10-20 small prey per day) and to protect itself from other larger predators. As solitary hunters, they rely on watchfulness, familiar territory, and routine to feel safe. This need for a familiar and safe environment is critical for addressing your cat’s behavioral and physical health problems; bladder disease, overgrooming, vomiting, and obesity can all result from stress. Below is the current plan to help fulfill your cat’s needs in your home.
- A safe space is a private and secure area, often in a raised location. For cats with limited mobility, accommodations to reach higher locations should be made.
- Cats seek a sense of enclosure, isolation, and/or seclusion.
Where can your cat go to avoid noises and/or unwanted human or animal interactions?
- Enclosed porch
What will separate your cat from a stressor?
- Closed door
- Baby gate
- White noise
- High perch
While in its safe place, what can you provide for comfort and mental stimulation?
- Lasting food toy
- Interesting scents
- High perch/bed
Play & Predatory Behavior
Key principle: Cats should be able to engage in predatory play and feeding behaviors.
How will you provide outlets for important hunting behaviors (searching, stalking, chasing, catching)?
- Stuffed animals
- Electronic toy
- Laser toy
- Food puzzles
How often will you rotate your cats’ toys?
- Twice a month
Try to commit to playing with each of your cats for 3-5 minutes a day (cats are dawn & dusk hunters).
- When I wake up
- After breakfast/dinner
- Before bedtime
- When I brush my teeth
Can you provide your cats with safe outdoor time?
Catio enclosure Harness walking Safe deck/porch fenced yard
- Cats can very subtly guard resources for other cats by sitting and staring.
- Each of your cats should be able to reach key resources without having undesirable interactions with another cat/pet or human. This can be achieved by having a dedicated portion of the house for each cat or having one more of each resource than cats that live in the house (e.g. 3 cats = 4 litter boxes, 4 perches, 4 food areas).
- Each resource should be separated by a wall or meaningful space (e.g. litter boxes should be in separate rooms, and food and water separated by at least 3 feet of space or wall).
Litter boxes are large, easy access, located in quiet locations.
Litter is soft to the touch (e.g. sand, clay, grass-based) and unscented.
Litter boxes will be scooped of soiled clumps at least once a day, and litter completely changed: Weekly Bi-monthly Monthly
Resting places are available up high and semi-hidden, located
Nail scratching posts/boards will be located
Water will be located. As fountains?
Food will be located. As interactive puzzles?
Appropriate Social Interactions
- Many cats prefer a high frequency, low intensity level of social contact with humans.
- Cats should be able to initiate, moderate and end their interactions with humans (and other pets).
- Cats need escape routes from young children.
How can your cat feel like s/he has the choice to interact with people and other pets?
All people understand my cats should consent to any touch by showing behaviors like approaching with tail raised, relaxed/almond-shaped eyes, and slow blinking. My cats should not be picked up without these behaviors.
I will try to provide multiple entrances/exits from resting spots, litter boxes & other key resources.
Useful Links & Resources
- Food Puzzles for Cats (never feed from a bowl again): Food Puzzles for Cats
- Smart Cat Litter from Pioneer (grass-based unscented litter): Smart Cat Litter
- Indoor Pet Initiative from Ohio State University: Indoor Pet Initiative
- Feline Environmental Needs Guidelines (from the American Association of Feline Practitioners): Feline Environmental Needs Guidelines
- Interactive Cat Play (how to move those toys to stimulate your cat): Interactive Cat Play
- Videos from Fundamentally Feline: Fundamentally Feline Videos
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