If Your Cat Feels Alone

If Your Cat Feels Alone

If you have an indoor cat and you are worried that kitty spends too much time alone, you are probably right.

There are a lot of behavior problems that can be caused by a cat's loneliness and confinement in what can be viewed as a dull and purposeless life. Behaviors such as excessive vocalization, urine marking, and compulsive fur sucking, self-licking and self-mutilation; occur far more indoor only cats than in their free to roam counterparts.

These problems are far more pronounced in this day and age since people are busier than ever. And the busier the family, the more bored the cat.
Chronic boredom and isolation are unnatural for any mammal. With kids at day care and mom's working full time, the cat is utterly alone, so you are right to worry about him. You can spice up your kitty's life while you are elsewhere, but it will take a little thought and preparation.

Indoor life can be tedious for some cats. They lack the all-important aspects of daily life in the wild, including the freedom to hunt, mark, protect and defend, and to interact with others of the same species.

Take a shoe box, tape it down to a hardwood or tile floor and fill it with wads of paper, balls, treats and some catnip on the bottom. Kitty can spend some time emptying the box during the day.

It is also important to give your cat as many open rooms as possible. Outdoor cats claim as much as an entire acre for themselves and they have access to a variety of trees and fences to climb. So get some kitty houses, condos, cat scratching furniture, a window perch and, if possible, make a cat walk.

Several planks, six to twelve inches wide and securely affixed about two feet below the ceiling will make it possible for your cat to look down and observe the world at an entirely new perspective.

Although these strategies all help, nothing can be as stimulating to your kitty as another living creature in your house. Only another cat can play with the same expertise and energy as you as your own cat possesses.

People mistakenly think cats are solitary creatures.

Whatever you do to help your kitty get through his alone times, remember when you get home, no matter how tired you may feel, your pet has been waiting all day for his turn to be with you. You owe it to your pet to spend some quality time together and you just might find it is the best part of coming home.

It is our duty as cat owners to enrich our cats' indoor lives to make good some of these deficiencies. Without gainful employment cats merely exist within boring but luxurious homes. Also, without some species-specific entertainment, they may get into trouble, psychologically or physically, leading owners to seek behavioral modification advice ... or not.

Below is a list of suggested means by which a cat's environment may be made more user friendly. The underlying principal is "think cat." If you do this you may even be able to add a few conceptions of your own.

Climbing Frames.

Cats really appreciate a three-dimensional environment, as evidenced by their constant attempts to climb up on top of things. To facilitate this innate compulsion, provide climbing frames in strategic locations so that your cat can elevate his position with ease and obtain a panoramic view of the outside world. This is the closet thing to a cat newspaper. From their perch they can survey their immediate environment in safety and catch up on the latest comings and goings.

Bird Feeders.

The instinct to watch and stalk birds still courses through cats' veins even though it may have been generations since they relied on catching prey for a living. The provision of window feeders for birds can provide cats with a lot of viewing opportunities at no risk to the birds.

Fish Tanks.

For similar reasons, a fish tank (with its lid firmly attached) can be another great pleasure for cats. Even though they never catch the fish, that failure does not detract from the thrill of "fishing."

Food puzzles.

In nature, cats had to work for their food. Hunting consumed a great deal of their time and energies. Yet we simply put their food down and leave them to scoff in as little as 5 minutes. What do they do then - sleep? If you get creative regarding your cat's feeding opportunities you can spin out those meals and make the process of eating more entertaining. Ideas include:

1. Putting your cat's kibble inside a Buster Cube, a plastic cube with various compartments for food that falls out as the cat bats it.

2. Feeding kibble via a toilet roll tube, with the ends taped over and holes drilled in the sides to release kibble intermittently. (The tube rolls around and is fun to chase.)

3. Ping-pong balls with a hole drilled in the side to allow you to put a single piece of kibble inside.

Non-toxic grasses.

Some cats respond well to fresh catnip or cat grass grown especially for them. Along the same theme, some cats also enjoy lettuce or green beans. Other cats can be redirected onto pieces of thin rawhide coated lightly with fish oil or cheese spread. Owners should offer the rawhide chews only when they will be directly supervising their cat.

Predatory games.

It is almost mandatory to have various feather wands or fishing poles with string attached to entertain your cat. You should probably put aside several minutes a day for this activity. This will exercise and mentally stimulate the cat, and help to dissipate otherwise undirected predatory tendencies. Some predatory toys are automatic and allow activation by the cat even in your absence. For those of you who don't want to spend much cash there's always the old milk-bottle-seal-on-a-string trick or a bunch of table tennis balls that you leave around on a smooth floor. Laser mice are at the high tech end of the spectrum of toys and there are new electronic toys in the pipeline.