Even the most domesticated cat is very tuned in to the instincts she inherited from her wildcat ancestors. Sometimes these instincts can be rather silly. For instance, why does your cat insist on hunting anything that moves when there’s a bowl full of kibble in the kitchen? Silly or not, cats are driven by their instincts to act in certain ways. Understanding why cats do the things they do can help us provide the best homes for our cats. Here are 6 ways you can align your home with your cat’s needs.
#1 – Provide plenty of perches
In the wild, perching in trees gives cats a huge advantage. It allows them to rest out of reach of most hunters, while also getting a larger picture of the ground and any potential prey that may be scurrying about. An indoor cat’s home should always have at least a few good perching spots, whether from a cat tree or a cleared shelf on your book case. If possible, put the perch near a window so your cat can watch the birds and insects flutter around outside.
#2 – Add a scratching post
Scratching is essential for your cat’s physical and emotional health. It helps your cat stretch, release pent up energy, and helps shed loose layers from her claws. The need to scratch is so deeply ingrained in your cat that she’ll find ways to do it, even if it means clawing up the side of your couch or the leg of the kitchen table. Encourage scratching in a way that doesn’t ruin your furniture by providing plenty of scratching pads and posts. Not all cats are drawn to the same materials, textures, or configurations, so take the time to figure out what your specific cat likes to dig her claws into.
#3 – Encourage hunting
If you’ve ever seen your cat’s reaction to a stray fly you’ll know that your cat’s prey instincts are very much in tact, even though you ensure she’ll never have to hunt to survive. Hunting can help keep your cat physically active and mentally stimulated– two keys to keeping your her healthy. Encourage this instinct by playing with a laser pointer or wand toy, adding battery-operated interactive toys to your home, or incorporating food puzzles into meal times.
#4 – Respect territorial instincts
Cats are territorial by nature. It’s an instinct you’ll have to respect and understand if you live with a cat, particularly if you live with several cats or have other animals added into the mix. A cat who feels as if her territory is being threatened may become anxious, aggressive, or begin spraying around your home. Keep this instinct in check by making sure there are enough resources to go around in a multi-cat home, giving your cat a safe space from rowdy dogs, and deterring stray cats from lurking outside your home.
#5 – Provide a clean litter box
Cats understand that staying clean is a great way to avoid infections and diseases that can kill a wildcat. That’s one reason why cats are such impeccable groomers. A cat who views a filthy litter box as a threat to her health will choose instead to poop on the floor. Help her out by establishing good litter box cleaning habits so she never has to feel distressed about a filthy box.
#6 – Provide fresh water
In the wild, cats will avoid stagnant water that may be teeming with bacteria or parasites because an animal that is both a hunter and prey can’t afford to become ill. Keep your cat’s water fresh and cool by cleaning and refilling her bowl daily or adding a pet water fountain to your home. This will also help keep your cat hydrated and healthy.