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SPCA encourages cat owners to enrich their pet’s environment

SPCA encourages cat owners to enrich their pet’s environment for a happier, healthier cat

Making simple changes at home can reduce stress and improve well-being for your cat

This week the SPCA is encouraging all cat owners to enrich their cat’s life by making a couple of simple changes at home.

Environmental enrichment is the addition of factors into an animal’s environment that improve their physical and psychological welfare. It’s something that many New Zealanders don’t consider for their cats.

Scientific evidence shows that environmental enrichment can reduce stress and abnormal cat behaviour such as aggression, vocalization, over-grooming and inappropriate toileting.

“Many people think that because cats are so independent, they can amuse themselves day to day. But that’s actually far from the truth. Although they like to sleep a lot, cats are not built to sit around all day and eat food out of bowls,” says SPCA Auckland CEO Andrea Midgen.

“Just like people, cats like to explore, appreciate nice smells and even admire views. There are some really simple and ways you can enrich your cat’s life, and as a result they will be happier and healthier.”

Some of the SPCA recommendations on how cat owners can enrich their pet’s life include:

• Most cats are fed twice a day and out of a bowl. Dividing your cat’s daily food amount into several meals throughout the day recreates their natural way of eating – little and often.

• Get your cat moving and mentally stimulated by using puzzle feeders. These can be purchased from pet stores or you can make your own using cardboard boxes or toilet rolls.

• Cats naturally want to climb high and express their natural climbing and observing behaviours – so give them vertical spaces such as cat trees or scratching post towers.

• Make sure your cat has plenty of places where they can hide and feel safe. This could be as simple as furniture they can hide under, boxes, or indoor plants.

Environmental enrichment is even more important for cats who are in a shelter environment. At SPCA Auckland, cat enrichment has been a big focus for the past several years.

“We do our very best, but the truth is that shelters are an incredibly stressful place for all animals, including cats. Our team uses enrichment to try and alleviate some of the stresses and in turn help reduce illness.

“Our team has developed programmes involving interactive feeding, creating areas for the cats to perch and hide, and a very comprehensive play schedule,” says Ms Midgen.

“The environmental enrichment we use at SPCA Auckland can easily be recreated in a home. We encourage all cat owners to make some of these easy changes and see the benefits in their cat’s life.”

Find more SPCA tips on cat enrichment see


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