Dane County Humane Society (DCHS) staff and volunteers keep very busy reuniting lost pets with their families, creating new matches, and counseling community members who are facing issues with their pets. DCHS staff find the top reasons cat owners seek help are litter box issues and poor reactions to people or other pets in the house. These issues, and many others, are usually caused by stress. What can you do to help make your home less stressful for your feline friends?
Make your Home Interesting
Interactive play time of 10 to 15 minutes twice a day keeps your cat healthy and may help reduce anxiety. Cats also love to find hidden food, so try putting food in a treat ball or make your own by sealing the ends of a paper towel roll and poking holes in it. Give your cat new things to play with and investigate. This doesn’t necessarily mean buying a new toy every week. Sometimes it’s the simple pleasures that make your cat most happy—a paper bag, cardboard boxes, aluminum foil balls, or reintroducing toys they haven’t seen in a while. Of course, cats always love a good scratching post too!
Make your Home Feel Safe
Make your home a refuge for your cat by providing safe hiding spaces throughout the house, like a cat tree, cardboard box, space in a closet, or towel draped over a chair. Also, find a good spot up high where your cat can nap or keep an eye on everyone below. If your cat seems anxious, you can also try calming products, like Comfort Zone Feliway Plug-In Diffusers and Sentry Calming Collars, which release a pheromone to calm stressed cats.
Make Litter Box Time Stress Free
Many litter box problems stem from a medical concern, such as a urinary tract infection or urinary crystals, that can make using the litter box painful, so always consult your veterinarian first. Once that has been ruled out or to help your cat like their litter box again, there are many steps families can take to make their cats more comfortable.
Cats like their litter boxes to have a bit of elbow room in a quiet part of the house where they won’t be surprised. Consider upgrading the size of the box and adding an additional box. Also, try one that is open on top, as hooded litter boxes prevent cats from seeing around them and can make some kitties uneasy. Be mindful of what you are putting in the litter box too. A nonscented litter is usually best, as cats tend to dislike strong scents. One and a half to two inches of litter is generally enough, but not too much where paws sink in. It’s important to remove waste daily, but generally litter boxes don’t need a deep cleaning more than once every three or four weeks. Kitties like to have clean bathrooms!
Making your home safe and stimulating for your cat is one of the best ways to keep kitty stress free and happy for years to come. For more pet-care resources, visit giveshelter.org .
Marissa DeGroot is the public relations coordinator at Dane County Humane Society.
Dane County Humane Society
5132 Voges Road
Madison, WI 53718