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Feeling guilty because you haven’t done much for your cat in several months—or longer?There's a common misconception that cats are self-reliant, that they don’t need anything special to be content. I’m here to tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you take a little time to enrich your cat’s environment, I guarantee you’ll havea happier cat —and a less guilty conscience.
There are some very simple changes you can make to your home and your daily routine that will help give kitty the stimulation she needs to keep her entertained while you’re away and promote bonding while you’re together. And you don’t have to spend a fortune to do it.
One of the keys to making your cat happy is catification, the term that cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy and I use for environmental enrichment for cats (and the title of our new book). Catification can be as easy as moving furniture around or as elaborate as building climbing structures or outdoor enclosures for your cat.
The idea behind catification is to accommodate a cat’s natural instincts to climb, perch, scratch and really own her territory. The process starts by observing your cat and her preferences (does your cat prefer to be up high or down low? Does she like to scratch horizontally or vertically?) and then catering to those preferences as you catify.
One of the more common enhancements Jackson and I recommend is creating a cat superhighway. This provides a way for a cat to navigate around a room without touching the floor. You can start by looking at the existing furniture in the room and rearranging it to make it easier for your cat to jump from one surface to the next. You may need to add some cat shelves or a cat tree to connect your superhighway, and make sure to attach nonslip mats or carpet pieces to the surfaces to prevent slipping.
Another great catification tool is cat TV. Find a nice window and place a bird feeder in view of it, then set up a comfy spot where kitty can sit and watch the action.
Cats love to munch grass in the wild, so get some fresh cat grass or a catnip plant for your pet cat. These cat-safe plants are available from pet supply stores and most plant nurseries, or you can grow your own from seed for just a few dollars. Try to always have a fresh plant ready when you need to replace the old one.
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