Want a happy, well-behaved cat? Start by “catifying” your home. While the term may sound a little silly, making your home feline-friendly is more important than you may think. When your home caters to your cat’s natural instincts, she will be a happier cat. Keep your cat content with an environment that fosters her natural behaviors, such as:
Cats have a natural instinct to climb to high areas where they can survey their surroundings. A simple way to encourage this behavior is to let her “own” a tall piece of furniture. For example, put a cat bed or folded blanket on top of a dresser, with a non-skid material under it to prevent her from sliding off. Then, move a chair next to the dresser so she can get up and down. You can also purchase a cat tower, or create a climbing wall using sturdy, bracket-mounted shelves.
Cats love to perch near windows to view the outside world safely. Move a piece of furniture to a window and open the shades to allow your cat to look out. Another great idea is to give your cat an outdoor enclosure, such as a large crate, where she can take in some fresh air while staying safe. Be sure your windows are cat-safe, with no openings and sturdy window screens.
Cats have an inherent need to scratch, as part of playing and to mark their territory or sharpen their claws. To prevent your cat from scratching unwanted things like your furniture, provide her with appropriate scratching surfaces. Offer a variety of scratching posts — vertical, horizontal, cardboard, carpet, etc. — to see what she likes best. Place these scratching posts near objects she likes to scratch.
Give your cat an assortment of toys to keep her physically and mentally stimulated. Purchase toys that you can play with together, such as strings tied to a stick. Because cats are solitary hunters, also offer her toys that she can play with independently, like balls or toy mice.
Ever wonder why your cat sleeps most of the day? It’s because she’s conserving energy. As natural predators, cats have a primal instinct to hunt small game animals, mostly at night. Offer your cat a variety of soft, comfortable places to nap during the day, so she can store up energy to stalk and pounce on her “prey” (toys) at night. If your cat’s play keeps you awake at night, consider playing earlier in the evening to allow her to expend some energy while acting on her natural instincts.
Cats who are unable to express their instincts can become stressed. Stressed cats can demonstrate “cry for help” behavior, litter box strikes and even health problems. In addition to fostering the natural behaviors listed above, observe her behavior closely to see where and what makes her relaxed or tense in your home. If she seems agitated in a certain area, block her access to it. If she seems afraid of an object, such as a vacuum cleaner, minimize her contact with it. If you create an environment where your cat can feel content and secure, you will have a happy cat. And a happy cat means a happy home.