How to ensure happy cats and create a happy home!
Milo & Otis are brothers. They’ve been together since kittenhood; they’ve eaten out of the same bowl, they both were neutered together and now Milo and Otis hiss and yowl at each other. Bad kitties! Don’t be like Milo & Otis!
Memes are funny but behavioral problems are not! Just ask any cat owner! Not only that, but there is a bevy of reasons why cats who once got along are suddenly at odds. So many reasons, in fact, that there is no way we can tackle the subject matter in just one article; nor is there a “one-size-fits-all” solve.
Today, we are going to talk about indoor cats, kitty boredom and how to strive for happy cats! After having lost a couple of our feline friends to other animal attacks and to traffic, we decided to keep Milo & Otis established as indoor cats. There are definitely pros and cons to that decision but for now, let’s talk about indoor cats and boredom induced behavior problems.
Imagine that you are in are in a 2,800 square foot box
ALL THE DAYS OF YOUR LIFE!! And even though there are furniture and curtains to claw and climb, things to jump up on and sounds from outside, their world is still small. Most likely there is a handful of people that go in and out that sometimes pay attention to you and sometimes not, life would be pretty limited, right? Most of us would be lost for a day without our cell phones to connect us so just take a moment and think about the life of an indoor cat. If we’re talking about Milo & Otis, it would be the life of two very large male cats.
So if you’re thinking about that 2,800 square box and you’re subjected to live in it with your annoying brother, I think you can imagine that you would sometimes be, well…ANNOYED! Trust me, friends, annoyed cats and the behavior problems that can ensue are not pleasant. Suddenly your beloved furballs begin marking, they begin to sharpen their claws on things they know they shouldn’t be, they’re on the kitchen counters, and they eat the flowers your son picked for you. Not only are your furballs annoyed but now you are, too. So what to do about it and what happened to my happy cats?
First, as always, we rely on our vets for their expert opinions and we wouldn’t tell you to do any differently! So if you are having any unwanted behavior from your kitty, please check with your vet to make sure there is not a health condition and for his or her advice. That being said, what have we found that helps? Toys help. Snack feeders help. Cat trees and window seats help. Affection helps. Changing the environment helps. Common sense helps. Here are some of our “solves”…and we’d LOVE to hear some of your ideas, too!
We have a basket full! There are some that are tried and true, some that are very ignorable and some that are LOVED. The point is, they are never all out at the same time. Weekly, we’ll collect all the toys and introduce new ones. Not new as in we just bought it but it may have been a few weeks before they’ve seen it. To Milo & Otis, it’s new. To make it even MORE noticeable and appealing, we rub a bit of very good quality catnip on it. Watching them, I’ll be honest, it’s like they’ve taken a trip to Colorado if you get my meaning! The only toy that we always keep at the ready is the laser pointer. They never ever get tired of chasing that around. In fact, they love it so much that we have to hide it between times or they’ll dig it out. So yes, toys rotated will help to achieve the "happy cats" status.
Toys don’t always have to be store bought, either. A wadded up piece of wrapping paper, a box…anything can be novel if it’s introduced. Our cats notice a change in their environment almost immediately, even if they’ve been comatose napping.
Hands down the very best purchase we’ve ever made…except for the adoption fees, of course! With several different heights and a tunnel, a couple of sisal posts and a play ball, we’ll find both cats watching the wildlife from different levels, chasing each other up and down…this is another item they don’t seem to get bored with not to mention the clawing they do here has saved some of our furniture. This was initially recommended by our vet since we seemed to have one cat (Milo) bullying the other. Otis has found that he can make his perch on the highest level and has the advantage over his brother. Plus, since he’s a bit timid, to begin with, he now can see who is coming into his domain and has lost a lot of his fear. Cat trees are great! Window perches are another good option and you can move them around, too. We had another cat that absolutely loved the perch but would only lay on it if it was at his favorite window. How did we know it was his favorite? Because that’s where he would lay on his perch.
Cat food puzzles
Just like humans, a bored cat can overeat. When you have one cat, that’s a bit easier to solve. When you have two if one cat is obese and the other is just right, how can you leave food out to snack on without big brother eating it all? A cat food puzzle!! We have found that having separate eating areas help a bit but our big boy, Milo, gobbles his food down and then runs and checks on how his brother is doing. Otis sits in anticipation of this and as soon as he glimpses Milo, he walks away. (If anyone has any pet suggestions on this, please share below!!) Enter the cat food puzzle. We have figured out that if we feed them both at a given time and then place a bit in a cat food puzzle, it slows Milo down a bit and fits with Otis wanting just a bite or two during the day. Milo has actually lost a little weight while Otis has remained the same. The cat food puzzle not only makes Milo work a bit for a bite of food but it also stimulates he and Otis much like a toy.
Common sense stuff
If you work during the day like we do or you’re in school, life can get hectic and sometimes cats are easier to ignore than the needs of a dog. Please make a point of interacting with your animal for at least a few moments every day. If your kitties are the cuddly kind of cat, then pet them as they wrap around you. If they’re aloof, pull out that laser pointer. Or a great toy that is a little fuzzier than a laser pointer with more of a one on one feel between you and kitty is the Cat Charmer cat toy. Finally, If they still want nothing to do with you, then give kitty her time to warm up or bring out a treat and talk to her. You’re there…let her know it.
We leave our bedroom door closed during the day. When we get ready for bed, we leave the door open and Milo and Otis immediately run in. Even if we watch a bit of TV or read, we let them hang with us for that time. No sleeping there, though! Milo tends to pounce in the night while Otis walks around our heads pulling hair. If that didn’t happen, we’d probably let them stay but since it does - introduce evening feeding plan! Do you know where they go at night? The CAT TREE!!! (I love that cat tree!) Then when we open the door in the morning, they both run out of it to greet us – and the morning feeding. (It’s probably the morning feeding.)
We'd love to hear from you
Finally, we love our cats and want them to be happy cats. We know others love their cats even though sometimes behaviors can get aggravating. For that reason, we are reaching out to YOU, friendly reader, to get YOUR advice! Got a funny story to share? A great idea that has worked for you? Will you share what your cat’s favorite plaything is? We’d love to know!! So would Milo & Otis. We all look forward to hearing from you!