The Right Environment
Creating an environment that encourages confidence is the first step. In your cat’s world, confidence and a sense of security is attained, in part, by being able to anticipate any possible threat. Making the most of the vertical space in your own dwelling with walkways, shelving and trees will enable your cat to feel safe and secure as she protects and oversees her realm. Read more about cat dwelling.
Building what cat behavior expert Jackson Galaxy calls a “cat superhighway” via furnishings that make use of your home’s vertical space is also a way to avoid conflict in multiple-cat households. Providing one cat with a means of escape or avoidance with ramps, shelves, or trees can sometimes allow cats who are housemates, rather than best friends, with territorial security.
Whereas some cats relish seeing the world from a bird’s eye view, others gain a sense of safety and security closer to the ground. But it can be frustrating when your cat’s safe spaces (e.g. the underside of a bed or dresser) makes it impossible for positive social interactions to occur.
In order to make your cat both safe and accessible, minor adjustments to your living space will promote a sense of security and confidence in your cat. Block off the spaces that hinder your ability to interact with the cat. Offer your cat alternatives in the form of cat houses or even cardboard boxes. These enclosures will enable the cat to feel safe. Additionally, human caregivers will be able to safely interact and socialize with their cats in their safe spots.
The Right Type of Play
Once we create an environment that suits the needs of our feline companions, we need to remember what every confident and contented cat is at heart: a formidable hunter or huntress.
The domesticated cat still maintains many of her ancestors’ predatory drives. The urge to stalk, hunt, catch, kill, eat, groom and sleep is deeply ingrained within every domesticated cat’s psyche. Part of your role is to ensure that these drives are satisfied in the form of daily, structured play.
While some cats are content to play on their own with mouse toys or crinkle balls, many require additional stimulation in the form of structured play with their human caregivers. Some cats may prefer laser pointers, while others opt for wand toys. Lasers and wands are excellent toys for cats. Both allow you to help simulate every cat’s instinctual “stalk, hunt, catch, and kill” sequence. And the extra space between a caregiver’s hands and the cat’s target significantly decreases the chances of a person being accidentally scratched or bitten.
The number and length of play sessions required by each cat will vary. In general, cats younger than five or six year of age and those living without another feline companion require more time devoted to play.
When to conduct play sessions will depend on your schedule. If possible, play sessions should occur before you leave for the day and an hour or so before bedtime. Each play session should end with a meal or small treat. Since your cat is not actually hunting and killing a mouse, he will need something tasty to satisfy the urge to eat his kill.