Stress in cats is usually a rather delicate subject, not only because of the behavior problems it can cause, but also because it is associated with different diseases. It is important to know that stress, in addition to being generated by loud noises and/or sudden changes in the environment, is also produced because the kitty does not have a space in which to function and develop as it would naturally and according to his animal condition.
In this article we are going to review what a cat should have and what are the types of stimuli that can be given to them to achieve an adequate space for their development. And precisely this set of actions is what is known as environmental enrichment. This, in simple words, is to turn your house into a “feline paradise”, trying to make it as similar to its natural environment (ignoring its basic needs as food, water and litter boxes).
To achieve this, it is necessary that we understand and know the nature and characteristics of this wonderful species:
1. They are predators
That is why they are activated by sudden movements and it is important to offer them this type of stimuli and play with them. We can use rods, mice, laser pointers, ribbons, cords, etc. These types of toys are very important because they make them happy and because they increase their physical activity, thus preventing obesity and diseases associated with it. Each cat is unique and has its own character, what is beautiful and entertaining is precisely getting to know and discover our cat’s preferences.
2. They are explorers
The cat needs to discover things, to know what the environment is like and what it has. To satisfy this need, we can place hidden cubicles or shelters, shelves, tubes, boxes, among others. It is advisable to vary the positions from time to time.
3. They are climbers and hierarchical
Cats are natural climbers and like to scratch, and these urges don’t go away just because your kitty lives inside a house or apartment. Cat flaps are ideal for this, and should ideally have different textures, surfaces the cat can climb on, and multiple levels for nesting if you have more than 1 cat. Ideal if they also have a shelter and a toy with a pendant.
Something important is knowing how to choose where to put the cat flap: It is recommended near the window and in a place with little traffic so that it can sleep and/or hide.
4. They have nocturnal habits.
It is highly recommended to buy accessories so that they can interact at night, otherwise, you will be the one who will not be able to sleep.
5. They are sedentary and need sun
Despite the fact that they are nocturnal, cats need “sun baths” since this allows them to fix vitamins that are important to them, therefore, the ideal is that they have a space, be it shelves, beds or hangers where it reaches them. the morning sun.
6. They are territorial (marking behavior)
Here the classic scratching posts or wooden boards with interesting textures can be used so that your cat can scratch them instead of your walls. It is recommended to spray them with catnip (catnip) to encourage them to approach them. Most cats like the horizontal pattern better, but as mentioned above, everyone is different.
7. They need sensory stimulation (smell, hear, see)
Our furry ones must have constant stimuli so as not to get bored, which is why it is important to have protected windows, balconies or terraces where they can smell, see and hear other animals, people, and other things. Some are captivated by aquarium fish and some even enjoy watching kitten videos. Smell can be stimulated with cat-safe herbs or synthetic feline pheromones.
8. They are extremely clean and need their space
For these characteristics, it is recommended, for stress management, to have 2 litter boxes per cat and check them every day to keep them clean. In nature, cats are not only hunters, but are prey to other animals, so they do not like to feel vulnerable while eating, drinking or doing their business. This vulnerability is what causes a fear response when the food bowl or their litter box is in a noisy or crowded place, they must have places where they feel untouchable.
9. They do not have the habit of drinking water
Although it is a fundamental nutrient, most of our furry ones do not have the instinct to drink water, but rather associate it with a game or entertainment. For this reason, it is recommended to stimulate it with water fountains or arm yourself with patience and get up several times a day to open the bathroom tap and play with it. Thus, we will prevent the so common urinary problems. If you want to know more about this, you can review the following article from our blog: Tips to Promote Your Cat’s Water Consumption
10. He likes routine
Your cat feels more comfortable when his daily routine is predictable, which is why he can help you by doing little rituals when you go out and come home (like scratching his ears or giving him a treat when you go out). It is even advisable to have a “consistent schedule” of play whenever you want to play, we should never force them.
It is important to note that, due to this characteristic, the measures should not be applied suddenly or all at once, since this could generate more stress.
In short, the more comfortable your cat is at home, the lower his stress level will be, and therefore the happier and healthier he will be. The essential thing is that they feel that “they are in control of their lives and their environment“, to be able to hide when they feel threatened” and to have an environment where they can express themselves.