NZ has the world’s second highest rate of households with companion animals, after the USA – with 1.4 million cats (double the number of dogs) and with small properties in our urban areas, we have high density cat housing to deal with and manage.
Cats are not typically social creatures and high-density neighborhoods can create additional stressors for our feline companions. Conditions that we see regularly, as a direct result, are bladder, gut and skin issues – as well as behavioural conditions, often requiring long-term treatment.
What can we do?
It is worth considering the new challenges an urban environment has caused our finely tuned felines … and create a home environment which:
- Excites enough that they don’t get bored – as bored can lead to obesity and stress.
- Takes into consideration social structures inside your house (especially if you have multiple cats).
- Is safe enough from roaming cats and cars – ideally your cat remains within the perimeter.
- Allows your cat to cope with neighbourhood cats – because not all cats see fences as boundaries.
We are here to help – read our advice below and if you need more help, book some time with one of our cat advocates nursing team to discuss in more detail.
As the properties get smaller and the number of cats increase, more and more cats are staying inside to stay safe. The smaller your property and house, the more you need to consider environmental stimulation.
One of the most important aspects for a fun home is by recreating a cats more natural way of eating – by hunting and playing with their food. If you feed biscuits, do your cat a favour by “ditching the bowl” and feed them in maze feeders or maze balls. Biscuits should be interspersed with wet food so that they get enough moisture. Alternatively feeding a good quality raw diet can increase enjoyment of eating – we can advise on good quality options available. The main purpose of this is to avoid gorging of food and the sleeping for the rest of the day – use different methods to increase feed time to at least 30mins twice a day.
Catification (a Pinterest-lovers dream!):
Cats love height and space so have a look online about ways to create an exciting and fun environment for your cat indoors – not only will they be more active, love the climbing, but they will feel safe from other cats outside/ inside.
Grow some cat mint, cat grass or catnip inside or on your deck for your cat to munch away on – it is great for their digestion, creates some enjoyment in chewing and saves your pot plants (hopefully!). We have some great options for inside cat gardens in the clinic – especially if your cat likes to dig up the catnip.
Read part 2 here