Pet Talk: Creating A Cat-Friendly Environment In Your Home

Published 11:17 am Friday, February 4, 2022

Toys and plenty of room to roam can help make your feline friend a happy kitty.

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION — Home is all about having a space to make your own.

As humans, we all need a space where we are comfortable enough in our own skin to relax. And, believe it or not, our feline friends have similar needs.

Creating an environment where pets are free to roam and be themselves has been directly linked to reducing a multitude of medical and behavioral issues, according to Paula Plummer, a credentialed veterinary technician and feline advocate at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

When it comes to cat-friendly atmospheres, pet owners should think about creating an environment of plenty — meaning, plenty of room to roam, plenty of litter boxes, plenty of food and fresh water, and plenty things to do. All of this to create an environment pets can consider home.

“Toys can be a great source of entertainment for cats,” Plummer said. “Pet owners can also work on testing different toys to see what their cat likes. While some may like toys with catnip, others may like toys with bells or lasers.

“Finding the toy a cat will like and play with can take a little time due to all the options on the market,” she said.

An added bonus of making time to bond with your pets, is creating meaningful relationships over time that will last.

“Playing with cats and their favorite toy can incorporate quality time that both you and your cat will look forward to,” Plummer said.

This kind of routine is also important for reducing a cat’s stress and anxiety.

“When a cat is stressed, they will exhibit negative behaviors such as inappropriate urinations or defecation, pulling out their hair, scratching, or behaviorally acting out,” Plummer said.

By creating an environment that promotes natural behavior, owners can help combat this issue and ease their cat’s stress.

Scratching posts also are an excellent outlet for cats to ease some stress. By allowing a cat to scratch only on these posts from a young age, cats are able to embrace this natural behavior without their owner’s furniture paying the price.

“Over time, environmental enrichment will help reduce incidence of behavioral and medical issues because your cat will be living a fulfilled lifestyle without need of expressing themselves in a negative manner,” Plummer said.

Another tip for enriching your cat’s environment include devices like puzzle feeders to encourage natural hunting behaviors. Owners can also try hiding food throughout the room as another way to encourage such activity.

If any behavioral or medical concerns, such as inappropriate elimination or behavioral changes, arise, Plummer always recommends a thorough physical examination by a veterinarian as the best starting point for addressing those concerns.

There are many different ways pet owners can tailor their home to their pet’s needs. These little changes may seem insignificant, but can greatly impact the mental health of our feline friends.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be found on the Pet Talk website. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.