Dr. Buckley recently attended Continuing Education seminars at the North American Veterinary Conference and attended seminars about making visits to the office less stressful for our cat patients. Cats are definitely not small dogs and several of the ideas for making vet visits more pleasant for cats also have application in our patients’ home environments. There are five recommendations which can be applied in your home.
1. Food: Predictable meal times and individual food bowls for each cat and fresh water in several locations through the house are very important.
2. Litter boxes: Clean and convenient private litter boxes serve as toilets for our indoor cats. Generally we recommend having one for each cat, plus one. Most cats prefer the box to be 1.5 times the length of their body and at least 1.5 inches deep. Our recommendation is to scoop daily because a cat’s sense of smell is much more sensitive than a human’s and they prefer a clean bathroom too.
3. Safe sleeping spots: Soft bedding and familiar smells and sounds provide security for cats. Many like to be up off of the floor to nap.
4. Familiar territory: Face rubbing and scratching surfaces are how cats mark territory as “home”. Providing plenty of scratching posts helps them accomplish this in a less house destructive way.
5. Play time: Opportunities for play and predatory behavior and consistent human-cat social interaction are important for cat happiness as well.
Each cat in the household needs a set of these resources. There can be some overlap, but sharing requires accurate assessment of each cat’s relationship with the others. Resources should be located in an area that has at least two ways where a cat can enter or leave. Also avoid noisy places, high traffic areas, or places where a cat may feel threatened or stressed.
Let us know if you have specific questions about your cat’s individual needs for a happy home environment.