Cats are known for their independent and mysterious nature. Because they often keep to themselves and can be quite unpredictable, it’s no surprise that many people think they don't need the same kind of care that dogs are routinely given.
This is a shame because to ensure your cat is the wonderful and loving companion you want to share your life with, you do need to give them a lot of attention and care - on a daily basis.
In this article, we’ll explore the potential issues that can arise when you don’t give your cat the interaction it needs and give you some easy-to-do tips on how to keep your cat's mental health in tip-top shape.
So What can Happen if You Don’t Spend Enough Time With Your Cat?
Cats are social animals and as such they do need human interaction to stay healthy and happy. Spending time with your cat is essential for building a strong bond between you. Without enough time spent together, cats can become bored, lonely, and/or just plain stressed out. This can lead to behavioral problems such as excessive meowing, scratching furniture, or worse. It can also cause physical health issues such as weight gain or digestive problems. Cats that don’t get enough attention may also become more aggressive or start urinating outside the litter box.
It's quite common for us to meet cat guardians that are convinced that kitty will be aggressive and/or hiding with us as sitters. Often times this just doesn't happen because cats are curious creatures and want to get to know new people. They may have adopted a more aloof or aggressive demeanor with their family members or family friends because they already tried to bond and were either ignored, left to their own devices or just plain not encouraged to be any different.
"Oh he's always been like that" can sometimes really mean "Oh I've always left him to it"
Enrichment Ideas - Tips for Spending More Time With Your Purry Friend
If you want to ensure that your cat is getting enough interaction, there are some simple steps you can take:
I'm Going Away - How do I Ensure Kitty will be OK?
The main thing is please don't leave kitty on their own for any more than 24 hours.
At Cat Folx SF we do not do Every Other Day visits or "pop- ins". We firmly believe that kitty should have interaction Every.Single.Day.
The other major consideration for making sure kitty is cared for in your absence is making sure their daily routine is not changed too much. For most cats this means staying in their own home with their own bed, all their things and familiar scents. Cats really do so much better with a stable routine, and unless they have been trained from a young age to leave their homes they get stressed when they have to leave it. You would all know the "drama" that a vet visit can entail. Imagine the stress of a boarding situation?!
It also means that all of the enrichment ideas from the list above should continue in your absence.
Consistency and Routine are so Important for Kitty
Cats have a daily routine which varies from cat to cat. A typical daily routine for cats includes sleeping, eating, grooming, playing, and exploring.
Sleeping: Cats spend about 16 hours of their day sleeping. This is because cats are crepuscular animals meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk when their prey is most active. During the day they sleep in order to conserve energy for when they need it most.
Eating: Cats typically eat two or three meals per day depending on their age and activity level. Kittens may need up to four meals per day while older cats may only need one or two meals per day.
Grooming: Grooming is an important part of a cat’s daily routine as it helps keep their fur clean and free of debris. Cats will typically groom themselves several times throughout the day using their tongue and paws to remove dirt, dead skin cells, and other debris from their fur coat.
Playing: Playing is an important part of a cat’s daily routine as it helps keep them mentally stimulated and physically active. Cats will typically play with toys or chase each other around the house for several minutes each day in order to stay sharp and alert. Make sure they have toys to play with in your absence.
Exploring: Exploring is another important part of a cat’s daily routine as it helps them stay curious about their environment while also providing them with mental stimulation. Cats love looking out windows - so that they can satisfy their curiosity about what lies beyond what they already know. Cat perches near windows are great for this. I like to think of it as Cat TV. So many cat guardians, worried that folx may be able to see in and realize no-one is home tend to cover windows when they go away. If the window at the front of the house shows too much of your inside consider moving kitty's perch to a back window or leaving on the actual TV with nature shows.
Choosing the Right Carer - Ensuring Consistent Interaction
When considering a carer for your purry family member always ask about what time they will come to visit. If kitty is used to eating at 7am, then someone coming to feed them at 7pm will cause undue stress. 10am on the other hand would usually be fine which is why we adhere to a 3 hour window.
Another important consideration is the length of the visit your carer will make. At Cat Folx SF we do visits that last at least 35 minutes. We believe that litter box cleaning, feeding and medications shouldn't take away from the interactive time we spend with your purry family member. We always allocate at least 15-20 minutes at every visit for socializing with kitty. Depending on kitty's purrsonality and what they ask us for we spend most of the visit playing with them, grooming them and giving them chin scratches and pets. For shy kitties that like to hide, we read them a story or sing to them so that they have company.
In conclusion, your purry family member needs consistent and loving interaction.
Playtime, Grooming, Stimulation and Love are just as important as Meals and a Clean Litterbox. And sleeping in their own bed surrounded by their scent and the scent of their hoomans can not be beat.
If you have any questions I'm happy to help. Contact me here