Archives for June, 2013

Cheap entertainment and other enrichment toys for cats.

While most of us might think our cat has it all; someone to prepare their meals, toys to entertain them and a day full of sleeping, it may not be exactly what your cat wants. We need to look at the day from your cats perspective and more importantly, their ancestry. The cat that is in your home is not too far down the evolution path from its ancestor, the African Wild Cat. Your kitty still has natural instincts to seek and hunt food. Without helping to provide outlets for these natural desires, our kitties tend to find outlets on their own and we rarely approve.

There’s good news! Providing enrichment activities for your cat can be cheap, easy, and most of all, fun! When trying to think of enrichment activities for your cat, always start with their strengths; scent and sight are the easiest. Scent may include hiding food. This doesn’t have to be too challenging for your cat. Take an old shoe box, cut holes in the lid and a few on the sides and then throw in some treats or dry food. (Note: If you free feed your cat, they may not be as motivated to work for their food. If scheduled feeding isn’t an option, try putting toys in the box instead.)

Sight enrichment might be the most important, because cats are visual learners. An easy idea to keep your cats visually stimulated and their brains working is to put bird and/or squirrel feeders in view from a favorite window or perch.

Why is my cat peeing/pooping outside the litter box? How do I get it to stop?

There are several reasons why a cat would stop using the litter box – medical reasons, anxiety, or location preferences – to name a few. It’s important to rule out possible medical reasons first by taking your cat to your veterinarian. If the cause is medically related, behavior advice will not help.

Once medical concerns are ruled out, the next step is to remember that your cat’s behavior isn’t because your kitty is mad or upset. Cats use urine to communicate to other cats. It’s my job to educate you, the owner, to understand what your cat is trying to say.

The solution to each cat is individual, but here are some basic tips to set your cat up for success:

  1. Provide one additional litter box than number of cats in your home
  2. Place those litter boxes in separate areas of your house (not all in the basement)
  3. Use a fine grain litter and scoop daily
  4. Don’t change the brand of litter if your cat uses it. A common mistake is when people buy brand A, and then buy brand B next month because it is on sale. To the cat, it smells different and maybe feels/looks different. Simple changes like that are enough to create a house soiling kitty!