Tips to Make Your Home Cat-friendly
By Dr. Irfan Ahmed
When a cat is introduced in a human house, the residents should make sure that it will be happy and safe. The human parent should think of the cat’s/kitten’s needs to be physically and mentally healthy. However, as cat parents, it is your responsibility to make sure that your feline friend does not come into contact with hazards that could be easily avoided. Overall, if you want to make your home cat-friendly, look at the space from your cat’s perspective and make changes that will improve and enrich its life in the future.
A cat needs a space of its own. If you want to make your home cat-friendly, then you need to give your cat some special area to call its own. This includes a cat bed or cat house, where the cat can head when it just needs to relax on its own.
A cat house can be especially helpful for a cat that is adjusting to a new home and is afraid and anxious. When you bring a new cat home, allow it to hide away in its cat house until it comes out on its own. Providing this safe space will be an important part of its adjustment to new surroundings.
If you have multiple cats, or other pets, it’s very important to have a variety of spaces where your cat or cats can get alone time. In a house with both cats and dogs, there should be some spaces provided which allow the cat(s) to get physical distance from the dog(s).
In order to keep your feline occupied, you need to stimulate your cat’s mind. Provide toys that are exciting and fun for your cat to play with. Interactive toys of various types can give your cat something to explore and enjoy while you are away or otherwise engaged.
Part of stimulating your cat’s mind is giving it new and exciting things to do on a regular basis. Don’t assume that your cat will be happy with the same old toys forever. Introduce new ones every now and then to get rid of monotony and boredom.
Cats are also reinvigorated by watching the outside world. Attract birds and wild animals to your windows by placing bird feeders outside. Your cat will enjoy the “Live Cat TV.”
Provide your cat ample opportunities for exercise within the confines of the house. This could be long, clear halls where the cat can chase toys. It could also be areas where the cat can climb. Many cat owners provide specific climbing areas for their cats, whether it is a cat tree or shelves on their walls that the cat can walk along.
A scratching post offers your cat the ability to stretch and scratch at the same time. In addition, providing a scratching post will minimise the chances of your cat choosing to stretch and scratch on your furniture.
Cats love to bask in the warm sun. You can try putting up shelves so that your cat can climb up to a sunny window perch. This gives the cat the opportunity to do a little climbing, while providing a little private spot to get some alone time.
Provide for your cat’s basic needs. Your cat requires food, water, and a clean litter box to meet its basic physical needs. Feed your cat on a regular basis and in a place where it can eat undisturbed by other pets in the house. Access to clean water should be provided at all times. Many cats enjoy a cat drinking fountain that provides water in a running stream.
Cats, in general, tend to be finicky about their bathroom habits. Giving your cat a clean and accessible litter box is a basic requirement for having a happy feline in your home. Litter boxes should be placed in a private place and should be cleaned on a very regular basis, preferably every day.
There are many chemicals and products in most houses that are toxic to cats. Common household chemicals that are dangerous to cats include antifreeze, garden chemicals, insect control products, potpourri, and human medications. In order to make sure your home is safe for a cat, look at the labels of all chemicals and assess whether they could pose a risk to your feline’s health. Keep these toxic products out of reach of your kitty by putting all chemicals and products that could pose a danger in closed cabinets that your cat cannot access.
Most cats are naturally inquisitive and will investigate every inch of a new place. Because of this, don’t assume that a product on a high ledge or in a distant corner will be out of reach of your cat. Keep an eye on your cat and lock any cabinets they may open with child-proof locks.
There are many common household plants that are extremely toxic to cats. These include Azalea, Lily, Mistletoe, Philodendron, Poinsettia, Caladium and Elephant’s ear. Make sure to remove these plants from your house before you welcome your feline friend inside.
Many human food items are very toxic to cats. These include avocados, chocolate, garlic, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, onions, potatoes and alcohol. You need to keep these foods out of reach of your feline at all times. Also, keep leftovers and table scraps away from cats, as these can be dangerous to their health. For example, leftover bones can prove to be a choking hazard for an unsuspecting kitty.
A cat that is freely roaming around its home can come into contact with physical hazards that can injure or even kill it. Common household dangers include lit candles, rodent traps, strangulation hazards (such as blinds and cords), and open toilet lids. In order to make your home cat-friendly you need to eliminate as many of these hazards as possible.
If you want a happy and healthy cat, it is best to keep it indoors. Keeping your cat inside minimises its chances of getting a variety of diseases and infections, eliminates its odds of getting hit by a car or getting lost, and protects birds and other wildlife outside.
Make sure all window and door screens are secure. A loose screen could allow your cat to escape the house, but it could also cause your cat to fall out a window if it leans against a screen it thinks is secure.
It is absolutely essential to create a cat-friendly environment in your home if you want your cat to lead a happy and fulfilling life inside. These simple tips will go a long way to fulfill the basic needs and requirements of your pet cat.
* Dr. Irfan Ahmed is a Cat Behaviour Consultant. He also runs Mallika’s Cattery – a Cat Boarding Service in Bangalore.