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How To Create the Perfect Home Environment for Your Cat

Providing cats with an enriching outdoor area can afford them many physical and mental health benefits. While some of these benefits can be a little challenging to recreate for our felines that are housed indoors, there are still plenty of ways to ensure their living environment is as enriching and cat friendly as possible. 

Even for cats that do have access to a garden, their indoor environment is typically still their ‘core territory’, and a place where they will spend large amounts of time each day. Therefore, irrespective of whether a cat is able to venture outdoors or not, it is still important to ensure their indoor environment is a place where they feel comfortable and their basic needs can be met.

So, how can you make a cat-friendly home? Let’s discuss this further!

The Importance of a Cat-Friendly Home

Creating the perfect cat-friendly home for your cat means not only thinking about providing them with stimulation and entertainment, but also making sure they have sufficient choice and control over their lives, and a sense of safety and comfort. 

White and ginger cat lying between two humans’ legs.

Provide a Calm, Predictable and Safe Environment for Your Cat

  • Places to hide and get up high – To feel safe, a cat-friendly home needs to provide cats with easy access to elevated areas that they can comfortably lie on, as well as quiet, concealed areas they can go to hide. Try providing a mixture of cat trees, cat tunnels, igloos, and cardboard boxes placed about the house. Placing blankets on empty shelves or the tops of wardrobes can also work well. Distributing these resources in various locations around the house will mean there’s always a handy option available when your cat needs to seek out safety.
  • Quiet spaces – Try to ensure that there are areas of the house that are predictably calm and quiet, where the cat can go whenever they need to. Avoid disturbing them when they are resting in these areas, especially when they are trying to hide.
  • Familiar smells – Scent is very important to cats, so avoid washing all of their bedding at the same time and ensure there is always something around that smells familiar and of them. Some cats will scratch and rub against objects primarily in order to deposit their scent, so great strategies include avoiding over cleaning these areas and providing various cat-friendly scratching options.

Ensure Your Cat Has Consistent Access to Their Key Resources

Cats need to feel that they have choice and control within their environment and that they can access what they need, when they need it. This means ensuring that your cat always has safe, predictable access to their food and water bowls, sleeping and hiding areas, scratching posts, litter trays, and – for cats with access to the outdoors – a cat flap.

Wherever possible, these resources should be located in quieter areas of the house. Litter trays     should also be placed in separate locations to food and water bowls. Providing multiples of each resource and locating them in various different suitable areas of the house will provide your cat with greater choices and flexibility, enhancing their ability to access what they need, when they need it. These strategies are particularly important to implement in multi-cat environments to reduce situations when cats are forced to share resources, as this can lead to conflict.

Grey cat sitting on a cat tree.

Provide a Complex and Stimulating Environment 

Cats are innately curious and driven to explore. As well as satisfying their sense of adventure, keeping cats active and moving can also help their joints to stay healthy and supple, reducing the risk of obesity. 

Enrichment Trail

Consider creating an ‘enrichment trail’ for your cat by placing a few treats, toys, or a few pinches of cat-friendly dried herbs – such as valerian or catnip – in different locations. Place these at different heights such as on cat trees and shelves, as well as under beds and behind sofas. Try to link these different enrichment areas together to encourage your cat to keep moving between areas.      

Sensory Exploration

Provide your cat with special cat tunnels and cardboard boxes and fill these with different sensory objects. Depending on what your cat prefers, these objects could include cat biscuits, dried leaves, cat-friendly herbs, soft cat toys, ping pong balls, toilet rolls, and scrunched up bits of paper filled with treats.

Different Textures

Provide a range of different materials and textures for your cat to sniff, rub against, and scratch on. Many cats will prefer to scratch against large, sturdy, upright scratching posts that are tall enough to allow them to fully stretch up when scratching. Many cats also prefer a texture that enables them to push their claws into it and then drag downwards. Each cat may have slightly different preferences, however, so it is good to experiment with different scratching options such as sisal scratching posts, corrugated cardboard blocks, logs, or tree stumps to see what works best for your cat. These can also be sprinkled with catnip or valerian to make them extra appealing. 

Cat scratching against a sisal scratching post.

Food Enrichment for Cats

Using puzzle feeders for your cat’s regular food or scattering their biscuits in different locations about the home can make mealtimes more of a physical and mental challenge. This is a great source of enrichment for cats who are housed indoors only as it can help keep them physically active and entertained for longer, and also stops them from eating too much or too quickly.

It’s worth experimenting with different types of feeders – such as static boards, rolling tubes or balls, and toilet rolls stuffed with tissue – to find which your cat prefers. For cats not used to being fed in this way, you might need to start off with very easy feeders or use high-value treats.

Playtime and Other Outlets for Predatory Behaviour

Playing with your cat is another great source of mental stimulation and physical exercise. This can also encourage your cat to direct their predatory behaviours towards ‘safe’ objects, rather than your hands, feet, live prey, or other cats. 

Fishing rod toys with prey-like objects attached to them, such as furry or feathered items, are ideal when playing with your cat. For a cat-friendly home, you can also leave a selection of toys out for your cat to play with on their own, but rotate these regularly to keep them exciting. 

Human Interaction

Positive, appropriate interactions with people can provide a great source of positive stimulation for sociable cats. Just bear in mind that each cat is different and will have their own unique likes and dislikes when it comes to petting. To ensure interactions are always enjoyable for your cat, provide them with choice and control, pay attention to their body language, and pause if they seem uncomfortable at any point. Ensure that you only stroke your cat in areas of their body that they enjoy and are comfortable with. 

Are you interested in finding more tips for caring for your cat or are wondering how to make a cat-friendly home? Check out our range of articles for advice on a variety of topics! You can also stay up to date with our latest news and guides, as well as receive information on all our FELIWAY products, by signing up to our newsletter.

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