Lately we have been hearing the term “Feline Enrichment”. This term is usually used to describe the need to improve the environment of an indoor cat.
Do you have an outdoor only cat? Do you have an indoor / outdoor cat? If yes to both of these does that mean you can stop reading this blog?? NO!!! No, you must read on because we have some great information to share and hope once you read it you will share this information and tell other cat owners just how great we are and of course we want them to know how to have a happier cat in their life too.
Most indoor cats can become a bit sedentary. Did you know that 58% of cats in the U.S. are overweight? True, they are! Do you know how they get this way? They don’t have to hunt for their food any more. Cats are natural born hunters. They love to hunt, frolic, run, jump, leap, stretch, climb, chase, and sleep. In the wild your sweet, loving house cat would hunt several times a day, some research states over 10 times a day. That means small meals that your cat has to work for each day. That is how they stay so lean.
Our indoor cat’s today, like mine, have me bring them their canned cat food of their flavor selection twice a day. They demand I do this before I even get to eat. They also demand some dry crunchy food in between their two main meals. Cats like to snack in between meals too.
Oh and my cat’s also demand flowing water. My cats share their home with me and it is 2 floors so they have requested a water fountain for each floor with a carbon filter. They love their fountains. In the wild your cat’s and mine would find running water to drink. It is more appealing to them than a bowl of stagnant water. So find a great water fountain for your cat to drink out of such as one of the many options from http://www.petfountain.com//. Cats do not drink enough water, just like many of us humans so we want to encourage more water consumption and a fountain with flowing water is a great way to do that.
My guess is your house is one of two kinds. The first kind is like mine with set feeding times and then some snacks. The other type is called free feeding. This is where food is left out all day for you cat to eat from when their hunger strikes. Neither one sounds much like hunting to me, does it to you?
To make feeding you kitty part of your Feline Enrichment lifestyle you should hide their food around the house in small stashes for them to seek out. You can even take their kibble and toss it like a game for them to go and hunt. We know this can be a challenge but you can give it a try. If you are a set timed feeder like myself or a free feeder you can cut back the amount of food. Then set aside time to “play feed” your kitty. You can try stashing just a small amount of food around or taking a small amount of food for set play time feeding.
Cats love to climb. They really do and offering them some place to go up vertically is important. Even the smallest of homes can get super creative. You can buy a cat tree, the kind of special cat furniture at pet stores that has carpet and sisal rope on them for the cats to climb up and down. You could do a custom shelving unit that is attached to your wall. They have tons of ideas on Pinterest. You just need to think more like your cat and have fun with it.
Toys, oh cats can make a toy out of anything, that is the best part. Cats just want to hunt again so think of fun toys like laser points (do not use this with your dog ever please call us to find out why if you have questions). Cat teaser toys are the ones that have a stick type of handle for you to hold and a feather end for them to catch or a toy on the end for them to catch. Again this is all interactive play with your cat that is wonderful exercise. You can even get up off the couch to do it to have some movement yourself. They want you to play with them and interact with them.
Other ways to provide feline enrichment are to have a safe spot for your cat. Cats like to hide in things such as boxes, bags, and cabinets. Sometimes it is best to try and give them a spot other than the new Amazon box that is sitting on the kitchen table. So see where your cat likes to nap and get them a nice box, bed, or cat specific crinkle bag bed and put it in that area.
Even knowing how your cat prefers to “sharpen their claws” is important. Some cats like to scratch vertically and some like to scratch horizontally. So watch your kitty and see how they are scratching and buy them the appropriate scratcher.
The term Feline Enrichment is all about interacting with your cat and making sure your home is a place of fun and entertainment for them and you.
Here at Companion Veterinary Health Center we want to see your pets about every 6 months or twice a year for a preventive care consultation and exam.
Often times we get asked why? Our answer is simple - we think you are great and want to see you more often!! Ok in all seriousness we do think you are great and we do think you pet is wonderful and that IS why we want to see you both twice a year. We want to prevent anything that we can and make sure your pet is on its best health care plan.
Another reason for twice a year visits is that pets age faster than we do. For example, you come in with your 5 year old Great Dane and you are giving us his most recent medical history. It helps us to point out your sweet, loving dog is not just 5 years old but he is about middle aged for his breed. This is a real eye opener to some pet parents.
Think about what middle aged means to you in your life. Do you have a genetic history in the family that prompts different blood work or tests than, say, for your neighbor of the same age? Often times we need to think about different tests and genetic history when we are talking to our own doctors. The same goes for our pets.
So much can happen in 6 months’ time. Maybe your cat was an indoor only cat and then recently discovered the wild outdoors and you now have an indoor-outdoor cat. This is a huge game-changer. We will want to vaccinate your indoor-outdoor kitty for different things than from when he was an indoor only kitty. We will even do some different blood tests if you kitty is now going outside. We want to prevent disease and this is the best way we know how.
Our goal is for your pet to live its best life. Yep, it is our motto here - "Helping your pet live its best life". Yet that is not a cookie cutter formula. We need your help in getting your pet to live its best life.
We need to see them twice a year to make sure that the care plan we have in place with your help is working for you and them. We want feedback on the flea and tick medication they are using. We want to know more about their diet and bathroom habits. We want to know if anything is just not right with them.
Oftentimes during the technician part of the exam we ask questions about input and output, eating, drinking, and bathroom habits. It is usually during this time that we get so much information because we think back was this normal the last time they were here. Is she drinking more, I am filling the water dish more often. Hmmm. When our pets have us make small changes over time we don't notice it as much or we don't think it is a big deal however it can be. If you don't notice that you are filling that water bowl 4 times a day, when you used to only fill it only once a day that is a big deal to us. You don't want to wait a year to address that with us.
At Companion Veterinary Health Center we are passionate about keeping your pet healthy and we are happy to talk with you about preventable diseases such as heartworm in dogs and cats, parasite prevention of fleas, ticks, and even intestinal in both dogs and cats, and dental disease is not always 100% preventable but we give you tools to have a healthy mouth and are always happy to talk about that with you.
So seeing them twice a year really is not that often. It is about making sure that they are happy and healthy and that the health care path they are on is working. Our goal is to have them live a long healthy life.