Life styles are changing. People are spending more time away from home—working longer, harder hours. Some, out of necessity, are working two or more jobs. Understandably, cat-parents are concerned that their grueling schedules are adversely affecting their cats. They wonder if there are specific breeds they can adopt who do well when left alone. Recently I was interviewed for two different publications, both interviewers asked me the same question “What breeds of cats are best for people who spend long hours away from home?”
Although some breeds are sedate and seem more self reliant then others, no cat does well when left alone for long hours every day without companionship or stimulation. They can become depressed, bored and lethargic. Some develop behavior challenges such as over-grooming, litter box avoidance or other destructive behaviors.
Busy cat parents with active life-styles do not have to forgo cat companionship. They can take steps to keep their felines stimulated while working those long hours away from home.
People who do not spend much time at home should seek out and adopt cats who are bonded to each other. Bonded friends keep each other entertained while their favorite people are away. Adopting a new friend for the resident cat is also an option. It is essential that both cats have histories of getting along well with other felines. Adopters should be aware that successful introductions could take weeks, sometimes months.
Creating cat-centric home environments will help mentally stimulate cats. Although homes do not have to become Cat Disneylands, they do need to be equipped with cat furniture and toys. Toys cats can interact with by themselves will keep them engaged and active. Puzzle boxes, Turbo Scratchers, puzzle feeders as well as ping-pong balls are good toy choices. Boxes and paper bags without handles become intriguing places to explore and hide in.
Homes need to be furnished with vertical territory such as shelving, window perches and tall cat trees. Cat trees put in front of windows are perfect places for cats to relax and watch the daily happenings in the neighborhood.
Cats are predators—their feral counterparts hunt for a living. Meal and treat times should become mentally and physically stimulating. Instead of placing cat food in bowls or tossing treats directly to them, encourage cats to work a little for their food. Treasure hunts are the perfect solution. Before leaving for the day, busy cat parents can hide treats and dry food throughout the home—on cat trees, shelves, in tunnels, paper bags, cardboard boxes, puzzle boxes, Turbo Scratchers and in other toys.
Don’t forget clicker training and play! Clicker training is a fun activity for everyone—cats and their people alike. It helps keep cats mentally challenged, physically active and strengthens relationships between cats and their people.
Daily play sessions using pole-type toys will also help keep cats from becoming bored. The toy is pulled away from the cat in a way that imitates hunting. These types of toys should always be placed out of cat reach when no one is around to supervise.
In addition to activities and creating a cat-centric environment, cat people need to spend quality one-on-one time with their cats every day. Special times together include cuddle and lap times and active play and clicker training sessions. Quality time benefits all participants—cats and their favorite people alike.
For further help with cat behavior challenges, contact Marilyn to discuss scheduling a consultation.