If you think your cat rules your home, you may be right. Some scientists believe that, unlike dogs, which people domesticated as early as 40,000 years ago, cats domesticated themselves about 8,000 years ago as they visited farming communities in the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent, making themselves welcome by keeping rodent populations down. 

So, it’s no wonder that when cats agree to share our homes and lives, they do so on their own terms. To keep your indoor cat happy, all you need to do is let them be the feline that nature means them to be without wrecking your home. Since cats don’t come with instruction manuals, this is easier said than done. Our Greenfield Veterinary Clinic team offers tips on honoring your cat’s natural behavior while remaining in control of your household. 

Cats scratch for many reasons

Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, and cats gotta scratch. These are instinctive behaviors. Cats need to scratch to keep their nails sharp, mark objects with scent from their paws’ glands, and enjoy a good stretch. Sometimes they scratch to let you know they’re excited or stressed. 

Your whiskered pal won’t scratch a designated object because you tell them they can. You need to give your cat scratching posts that have textures that feel good to them and are at angles that they prefer. Ensure you place several scratching posts around your home and let your whiskered pal decide which ones to use when the urge to scratch comes over them. 

Popular scratching post materials include sisal rope, carpet, cardboard, and wood. Some cats like vertical posts, while others prefer horizontal or diagonal surfaces, so try one of each to see what your cat likes. If you rub some catnip or silvervine on the post and praise your cat when they use it, they’ll likely come back to it and ignore the chair that used to be their favorite victim.

Cats like to climb to great heights

Cats don’t care about ascending the corporate ladder, but they love to climb high and look down on their surroundings from an elevated perch. This satisfies their natural curiosity and allows them to feel safe. 

Try installing a cat tree where your furry friend can unleash their inner mountaineer. Cat trees come in many shapes and sizes, from about three feet tall to ceiling height, and resemble everything from giant flowering shrubs to modern architecture. Look for features such as perches, nests, trays, and tunnels for lounging in the open or hiding out. Some trees incorporate stairs, scratching posts, and hanging balls or toy birds at which your cat can bat. 

You can also let your cat climb and enjoy a view when you attach a series of shelves at various heights on your walls. If you’re ambitious, you can install a catwalk that wraps around a room a couple of feet from the ceiling, with stairs your cat can climb to reach the platform.

Cats hunt for entertainment

No matter how well you feed your cat, they still need to hunt. Give them prey in the form of puzzle feeders that stimulate their minds and reward them with a treat. Under close supervision, let your whiskered pal chase motorized toys that mimic scurrying mice or wiggling fish. Offer a large paper bag with the open end facing the cat, then make tapping or scratching noises at the closed end, so your cat can enter the bag to pounce at the unseen prey. 

For exercise, fun, and bonding, join your cat for at least two 10-to-15-minute interactive play sessions every day. Cats love poles that dangle felt birds, long fabric ribbons, and toys shaped like fruit or flowers. Another kitty-pleaser is a plastic tower with colorful balls running in tracks around it. You and your cat can take turns swatting the balls to each other. Keep a variety of interactive toys on hand so that you can rotate them to keep your cat interested.

Looking out the window to view the neighbors and the local wildlife is the feline equivalent of you taking to the couch to binge-watch your favorite TV series. To provide your cat with continuous entertainment, attach a perch to a high window that looks out on frequent action that your cat can appreciate. In addition, cats enjoy watching some of the same TV shows that keep us entertained, too. Switch on Animal Planet, nature specials on PBS or the Discovery Channel, or shows such as “Planet Earth, “Birds of Paradise,” or “Fish Tank Kings,” and see how your cat reacts. You can also find videos made especially with feline viewers in mind.

Healthy cats are happy cats, so even if your pampered puss rarely sets paw outside your home, they still need wellness checks to keep them in top condition. Schedule your cat’s preventive care appointment with our Greenfield Veterinary Clinic team.