Lindsay Donaldson is a small animal vet working in general practice in South West London. She reveals a few simple steps to help turn your home into the perfect abode for your cats…
Cats are highly territorial; their home is their castle. They are pretty particular about where they live and if things are wrong they can find this stressful. Where you place your cats’ food, water, litter trays and bedding can all have an impact on how safe and secure a cat feels in their space. You may also find that territory marking behaviours such as scratching and spraying the house can be reduced if you ensure the factors below are considered.
Ideally there should be multiple water bowls placed in a variety of places for your cats, both high up, for example on top of a shelf, and low down so your cat can choose which to use. They should be wide and shallow to avoid cats catching their whiskers too much as they drink. Aim to keep the water filled right to the brim of the bowl. Cats like lapping from a bowl that is almost overflowing. Preferably place food and water in different rooms, or on opposite sides of the room, just make sure they don’t sit next to each other. A cat wouldn’t drink and eat in the same location by choice. Some cats like to drink from strange places – the taps, baths, or glasses by the bedside; I would encourage owners to indulge these preferences if possible to allow their cat to drink enough, and it looks pretty cute!
The Kitty’s Room
Cats are exceptionally private, especially when it comes to toileting. If you provide a litter tray these should be placed in the most secluded location in the house. Avoid placing a tray in the kitchen by the washing machine where everyone dashes in and out for example. Your cat will find this a stressful environment in which to relieve themselves. To avoid competition and stress between the cats in the household, you should provide one litter tray per cat and one additional tray. Some especially fussy cats won’t use the tray until it is perfectly clean, but as a guide pick out the dirty patches every day and clean the tray thoroughly once a week. Rinse the tray using a solution of biological washing powder or a dedicated cleaning solution. Avoid using any ammonia based cleaners as these can smell like another cats urine and can put them off using the tray.
Vertical hiding spaces in a house are essential for chilling out. Maybe clear the top of the freezer, and initially provide a few cardboard boxes with blankets in these spaces. After a few weeks you will see which locations your cat prefers and you can invest in beautiful new beds for these places.
Breaking and entering
Lastly, but most importantly, always make sure that other cats can never enter the house. An intruder, however friendly seeming to us, will highly stress your cat. I would recommend installing a microchip activated cat flap so only the cats you want to can enter the home.
All these steps will help create the home of your cats dreams!