Often in conversation about pet sitting cats, someone will mention that our feline companions need very little care, that they are independent, aloof and can very nearly look after themselves. I don’t believe this is the case, whether they are indoor or outdoor cats. (photo)
I read a heading in a blog titled “Quiet lives of Desperation”. What a sad but true heading! Cats suffer very quietly. A cat without stimulation or interaction can suffer from stress through boredom and depression. This stress will show itself through less obvious problems such as obesity, a depressed immune system leading to infections (such as a urinary), or it can show itself more obviously through behavioural changes such as aggression, over grooming and soiling outside the litter tray.
It’s important to visit your veterinarian to rule out any medical issues that could contribute to the problem. Once your cat gets a clean bill of health, you can look into ways to enrich his environment to meet his physical, emotional and social needs. Here are some suggestions.
Cats may have set ideas about how they want to interact, but, it is important to set time aside for this to happen. Each cat personality is different, so it is important to explore with your cat (without expectations), to find out what it likes.
Through our pet sitting experience we know that cats love to play hide and seek, to be groomed with a hand held hoover, hunt the string, chase the ball, they can be trained to a harness and go out for walks on top of terraces or into the wild (see this website), they can be taught to fetch a ball and more.
Set up a routine where this precious time is available to your cat
A Safe retreat
Cats need a safe place where they can snooze uninterrupted; they need to escape from the other animals, from children and strange visitors. They love to perch on high vantage points or slip into deep, dark corners where they can see you but you cant see them!
Make spaces available to them, or build little dens. See zooplus.es for some ideas. Or make beds on top of shelves where they can look out the window or feel the sun or a breeze
Captivate their senses
Cats are especially interested in scents, so consider using catnip or synthetic pheromones in your house. Or provide some pet-safe grasses for your cat to nibble on. Explore aromatherapy oils, and cats love plants.
For auditory stimulation, consider leaving the radio on or playing a CD made for cats while you’re gone. Cats love classical music and there are even DVDs with birds and other prey to keep your cat entertained. (video)
Every cat is different, so you may need to try different enrichment strategies until you find what’s best for your cat. A few small changes around the house can help make your cat happier and create more harmony when multiple cats are sharing a house.