Updated: Jun 23
Several diseases as well as unwanted feline behaviors have been associated with stressful environmental situations. Providing an appropriate environment for cats in their home and at the veterinary practice can prevent, improve or resolve these problems.
Addressing environmental needs – how does it help?
Addressing the needs of your cat in their home, as well as veterinary professionals who are working towards a more feline friendly practice can help in a number of ways:
Fewer unwanted behaviors and less illness
Improved recognition of disease
Easier handling of cats at home and in the practice
Strengthened bond between owner and cat
Reduced stress in multi-cat households
Are cats domesticated like dogs?
Pet cats retain many behaviors of their wild ancestor, Felis lybica, the African wildcat.
The association between cats and people began about 10,000 years ago (much less time than dogs that are though to be between 20-40 thousand years!) as a mutually beneficial relationship.
Cats were attracted to the rodents that would eat harvested grain, giving the cats a food supply while preserving the grain stores for human use. This mutually beneficial relationship required no modification or genetic selection of the cat’s innate behavior.
What does my pet cat need?
Environmental needs are often not addressed until the cat exhibits signs that attract the owner's attention such as house soiling or negative interactions with other cats. Many cats do not get along well in multi-cat households if their environmental needs are not being met. However, signs can be subtle and this stress is often goes unnoticed unless they fight, exhibit behavior problems or develop stress-related illness.
So, as owners how can we help provide the most suitable environment?
Five pillars of a healthy feline environment
Pillar 1: Provide a safe place
Pillar 2: Provide multiple and separated key environmental resources: food, water, toileting areas, scratching areas, play areas, and resting or sleeping areas
Pillar 3: Provide opportunity for play and predatory behaviour
Pillar 4: Provide positive, consistent and predictable human–cat social interaction
Pillar 5: Provide an environment that respects the importance of the cat’s sense of smell