10 Ways To Nurture Your Cat’s Nature At Home

Have you ever wondered what cats really need to be happy and healthy?  

At times, cats can act in ways that are hard to understand. Cats became domesticated thousands of years after dogs. Because they’re that much closer to their wild ancestry, many of the things your cat does are based on instincts that helped them survive.  

We asked Cat Healthy, a non-profit organization that works in partnership with Canada’s board-certified feline specialist veterinarians to improve care for cats, for advice on how you can help keep your kitty purring at home.

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    Let them be king or queen of the castle 

Despite being excellent mousers, cats are also prey animals to larger species in the wild. Having shelves or a tower or tree to climb helps cats feel safe. They can oversee their kingdom, stay away from possible “threats”, like kids or other pets, and keep an eye out for prey, like squirrels outside the window. Towers, shelves, and trees are also a great way for your cat to get some exercise.  

    Give them places to sink their claws in           

Scratching is an important communication behaviour for cats. When they scratch, they feel more comfortable and safe in their environment. Scratching includes the chance to stretch their bodies, keep their nails short, and mark their favourite places with their own special scent, known as pheromones. Scratching surfaces should be solid and stable, so your cat can really dig their claws in.

    Provide a crash pad for their catnaps 

The best bed, according to most cats, is wherever they decide to fall asleep. No matter where that is, they’ll want to be able to keep an eye out. When adding a cat bed to your home, take note of where your cat usually likes to nap, and try to find something similar.  

Your cat’s carrier can also be a safe, comfy place for catnaps and it can help your cat get used to the carrier. This will make trips to the vet or on vacation easier. Sturdy carriers with a top that can be completely removed are best suited for this purpose.       

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    Include toys in daily playtime 

Hunting for toys is just plain fun! Some cats like wand toys that look like birds, while others prefer their quarry to be small and furry, reminding them of mice. When choosing toys look for ones that don’t have parts that can be swallowed or sharp clips or hooks that could injure your kitty. It’s normal if your cat only plays with toys for a few minutes. Most prefer to play for short periods before they move on. You can also try switching out toys regularly, if it seems like the novelty is wearing off.

    Add a little bit of *spice* 

Catnip, valerian root, silver vine and Tatarian honeysuckle can all be added to toys to help entice your cat. Keep in mind though that not all cats respond to catnip. You can purchase toys filled with these plants, or buy them in various forms to sprinkle or spray onto toys or cat-friendly surfaces you already have. Honeysuckle is available in the form of wood slices and twigs, which some cats find especially delightful.  

No matter how you play, make sure you reward their efforts with a treat at the end of playtime.

Just be sure not to overdo it: no more than 10% of your cat’s daily calories should come from treats!

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    Make mealtime a hunt with puzzle feeders 

Cats are natural-born hunters. Every meal they catch in the wild involves strength, speed, smarts and patience. Your cat should eat small, frequent, wet and dry meals throughout the day and night, similar to their wild ancestors. Puzzle feeders meet their need to hunt, solve problems, and be rewarded for their effort with a tasty meal.

    Count their kibbles 

When feeding your cat, offering an appropriate amount of food should be a top priority. To avoid overfeeding, follow the feeding guide on the food bag or can. Then, measure out the food they need. The most accurate way you can measure your cat's food is using a kitchen (gram) scale. Measuring cups have variations in size that can lead to over or underfeeding your cat.  

    Provide multiple water stations 

Why do cats always want to drink from your water glass? It’s probably fresh, clean, and cool, for starters. Cats prefer more than one water source, away from their food bowls and litter box(es). Make sure the water in the bowls is cleaned and refilled daily. No one wants a drink from a dirty container filled with old, room-temperature water. If your kitty waits at the sink for a drink straight from the tap, they might prefer a pet water fountain over a basic water dish.

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    Scoop daily, scoop often!  

A filthy bathroom is no fun for anyone. Aim to scoop the litter box at least once a day. You should always have more litter boxes than cats, and yes, that includes having two boxes for your “only” kitty. Having extra boxes gives your cat the ability to choose where they go, which will help prevent accidents or fighting between cats.  

Most cats prefer big, open litter trays filled with litter that resemble soil or sand, so they can bury their waste - another important survival skill passed down from their great great great great grandcats.

    Help them find their way home 

Even the biggest homebodies can sometimes make a break for it, or get lost in the shuffle of a busy day. In case of emergencies, make sure your cat has its ID ready. Include their name and your phone number on a tag and attach it to a breakaway collar. Consider having your cat microchipped, and ensure your contact information is kept up to date. This can help your cat make their way back to you from all of their adventures - whether they meant to go wandering or not.   

No matter what you add to your cart, keeping cats healthy and happy starts with something only you can give them - love! Once you’ve made your home a cat-friendly oasis, make sure your cat has a good relationship with a veterinarian. Regular clinic visits will help you and your cat enjoy a happier, healthier life together - hopefully for many years to come!

This article was brought to you by Royal Canin Canada. 

Shop Royal Canin Cat Formulas

*Specific product recommendations contained within are not endorsed by Cat Healthy or any of their associated feline specialist veterinarians.

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