In America, the most popular pet is still a dog, but cats are the second most popular pet and owned by about 34% of the American public. About 32 million pet cats live in the United States. According
to veterinarian Dr. Liz Bales in DVM 360 October 2021, cat owners don’t understand the physical and psychological needs of cats,
and it results in the leading cause of death in pet cats being euthanasia due to behavioral issues. Only half as many cats, in comparison with dogs, see a veterinarian for an annual exam. During these exams, behavioral as well as physical health should
be discussed. Behavioral and physical health are closely linked in cats.
Cats have been worshipped by the Egyptians and demonized in Europe
over their long history with humans. When humans began settling and growing crops, they began to see many cats who kept rodents away from their stored surplus crops. The most docile cats invited themselves into people’s lives and became a treasured species.
However, we need
to understand our pet cats better to keep them happy and healthy. Many people grew up in a household where cats were considered outdoor pets, and dogs were considered indoor pets. Living in suburbia next to a 50 mile per hour highway leads to a very short
lifespan for some feline friends. According to Dr. Liz Bales, to keep indoor cats healthy, we need to realize four facts:
1) Cats are solitary animals and don’t depend on others cats for survival.
2) Cats feel comfortable in a place that smells like them.
Cats are instinctive hunters who would normally hunt 8 - 12 mice every day,
expending a lot of energy while hunting.
4) Most cats desire less handling and less intense affection than dogs.
In order to satisfy the psychological and physical needs of indoor pet cats, Dr. Liz Bales says we need to provide the following four opportunities for cats :
1) High places such as cat trees, shelves, bookcases, dressers, etc.
This allows for isolation and more security from any competition such as other cats
There should be enough places for each cat in the house.
2) Places to hide such as catbeds under a bookcase, bed, or coffee table;
boxes, closets, or cubbies inside cat trees where they can rest in isolation. Again,
there should be as many suitable places as there are cats.
at least one litterbox per number of cats or more, providing solitary
And quiet areas throughout the house for elimination.
3). Ways to satisfy their hunting instincts, and ways to eat and drink in isolation from
Other cats or dogs. Separate feeding and drinking stations throughout the house
Equal to the number of cats in the house, and where dogs cannot interfere.
Sureflap feeders are microchip-activated feeders that can be beneficial
Each cat to have their own feeder. Hunting behaviors can be satisfied by placing
Mice or bird toys throughout the house with food pockets in them. Also, 5 minutes
Twice daily using a wand toy with
a butterfly or mouse or bird on it and
Simulating the animal moving away with jerking motions. Once the cat catches
The toy, drop a treat for them. Some cats also like feeding balls, where you put
food in a ball that they roll to make the food drop out. Sometimes cats like to
“Hunt” your toes or fingers, and this type of play twice a day may help alleviate
4). Making sure to “listen” when your cat wants you to stop playing or wants you to
Stop petting them or holding them. Some cats like more attention than others.
Make sure to leave them alone if they just want to rest. “Don’t wake a sleeping
Please have your vet give your cat a wellness exam at least once yearly, and discuss psychological and physical health
issues and any behavioral problems your cat is experiencing. It may just save your cat’s life and even your carpet or furniture.