Creating a Cat Friendly Home
WSAVA small animal Veterinary Conference – Pet Behaviour Thursday 7 March 2013
The small animal conference being held at Sky City has a presentation stream on pet behavior between 2 and 6 pm today. Subjects will include; creating a cat friendly home, the benefits and pitfalls of puppy classes and top tips on canine and feline behavioral practice.
A paper “Creating a Cat Friendly Home” is available at the conference. This details the challenge of multi-cat households, pressures arising from neighbourhood cats, human demands on feline companions, pressures of the domestic environment and suggestions on modifying the environment to minimise feline stress, adopting natural feeding patterns, the provision of adequate mental and physical exercise as well as catering for feline toileting preferences.
Creating a Cat
In a domestic environment many natural feline behaviour systems are compromised and cats find themselves living in groups of unrelated individuals, being made to share important resources and being denied the opportunity to hide or retreat from situations of potential conflict, Sarah Heath, a European Veterinary Specialist in Behavioural Medicine from Chester in the UK told the small animal veterinary conference in Auckland today.
Sarah Heath says cats’ human companions place social demands on them which are often at odds with their own natural behaviour and fail to provide for many of their basic instincts.
“Such constraints on normal behaviour result in stress and tension in our feline companions and, in many incidents of reported behaviour problems, an understanding of feline ethology not only helps to explain how and why the more common problems develop but also offers practical methods for dealing with them.”
Sarah Heath warns that it is increasingly being recognised that stress can be a major factor in the onset and progression of medical conditions and ensuring that the domestic cat is as well adapted to its environment as possible is therefore an important element of preventative medicine.
Sarah Heath makes a number of recommendations around providing a social and physical environment for cats.
For instance, providing access to vertical space not only applies in multi-cat scenarios, but also in single cat households, and she says provision of elevated hiding places is important in achieving the feline aim of minimising fear and anxiety within the home.
She also recommends immediate and unhindered access to food, rather than sticking to a rigid two meal a day regime. And she emphasises that cats expend sufficient mental and physical energy during the day is not only important in terms of weight control, but also in terms of maintaining physical and mental fitness.
Finally she suggests that hygiene is one of the important features of a natural feline territory and that any indoor toileting facilities must be on the periphery of their territory, offer seclusion and protection from disturbance