Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Happy Cats Need Perches

Hello fellow cat lovers-

I wanted to make a little Blog entry to inspire all of you to make sure your cats have places to jump, climb and perch.

Felines naturally love to climb, especially onto high places.  Their ancestors in the wild do this for safety and security.  The "Big Cats" will carry their prey up into a tree to keep it from scavengers, and they will nap up high to keep themselves safe from other predators.  They use perches a vantage points so they can scout their territory. When climbing trees, they use their claws to grab the trunk, hence the importance of their retractable nails (with the exception of Lions).  Cats will naturally stretch and scratch against trees and rough surfaces to keep their nails sharp and clean.  There must be a natural "feel good" aspect to scratching, since even declawed cats will still try to scratch against a scratching post.  What's important to know is that your cats NEED areas where they can climb, scratch, stretch, and explore.  If they do not these special areas, they can become destructive, or worse, they can be more fearful since they won't have places where they feel "safe." Providing areas where they can climb and jump also keeps them active, limber, and lean.

Ah yes... every house cat feels like a Leopard on the inside...

Here is the Schock version of our "Tree" for the cats.  Cat Trees are available in all sizes and for all budgets. The area on the lower left has rope wrapped around it, which is the cats' favorite scratching post.  In my experience, cats LOVE this type of scratching surface.
Also note- the cats can watch the fish tank as entertainment.

Even if you don't have a fancy tree, a stool placed near fish tank is still  a great
"entertainment center."

Got a bookshelf?  Cats LOVE to get into the high, hard to reach places. Of course, here is Cosmo taking in the view.  He got up their by jumping from the back of a chair.

This is NOT my cat or my house--- but I thought this was clever!  An extra high scratching pole (with the popular rope wrapped around it) allows this kitty access to the top shelf.  If I had this in my house-- which I might copy-- I have no doubt that the cats will be on top of the book shelf daily.

Got a window? They you've got the perfect place for a perch.  This is Jaime sunning himself in his younger years.  If your cat wants to sit in the window sill, be sure you have a secure, tight screen.  Otherwise, you might have an escaped kitty, or even worse, an injured kitty if they fall from
any height.

This is one of my favorite products-- it is a soft perch that attaches to a window sill using velcro, then rests against the wall underneath.  Every home with a cat should have one or two of these!  Outside the window, place a bird feeder, and your cat will be so pleased.

Again- NOT my house!  But I took this photo at one of the SPCA facilities in Massachusetts where my husband used to work.  This was in one of the community cat rooms.  The steps, the high "cat walk", and the cubbies with little cat beds helped keep these kitties feeling comfortable while they waited to be adopted.

I cannot emphasize enough that your cats need areas where they can climb and explore.  Be creative and think like a cat-- where would you go if you were a curious kitty? Every home and apartment has room for a window perch, cat tree, or a secure bookshelf. Remember that many cats seem satisfied with the back of a couch, a baby's changing table, or the top of a refrigerator. Nevertheless, try to offer them something new as environmental enrichment.  I would love to hear where your cats' favorite perches are!  Feel free to share via comments on my Blog.

- Dr. Schock

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