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Feline Enrichment Series Part 4

Feline Enrichment Series Part 4
Feline Enrichment Series Part 4
Feline Enrichment Series Part 4

Feline Enrichment MATTERS – Feeding enrichment & prey drive

We here at Waggs 2 Whiskers have been BUSY CATS during this pandemic!  We have been taking advantage of as many trainings as we can push into our brains.  One in particular REALLY put us over the edge about Feline Behaviors & Enrichment.  It was an amazing webinar put on by our wonderful Pet Sitters International (PSI).  They are awesome providing many opportunities for continuing education for their members.  

This is a 4 part blog series (YES….it was THAT GOOD).  The webinar was graciously put on by Dr. Marci Koski of Feline Behavior Solutions.  We are going to break down what we learned into 4 parts for this series:

1 – Cat’s Basic Nature 

2 – Feline Environment, Enrichment & the benefits

3 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines – part 1.5 – toy suggestions/the five senses

4 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines – part 2 + prey drive

We have now released Part 1 on Cat’s Basic Nature, Part 2 on Feline Environment, Enrichment & the benefits of making sure your kitty cat have both available to them & also Part 3 – Cognitive and Sensory Enrichment.    

If you missed any of them, go to our website at this link:  https://www.waggs2whiskers.com/blog/

NOW, it’s time for Part 4 – Feline Enrichment MATTERS – Feeding enrichment & prey drive.  Also, how as a pet sitter we can HELP provide this enrichment during our visits with your kitty. 

First, let’s talk Feeding Enrichment:

If your kitty cat seems to be less interested in their food than normal, before thinking something may be wrong, try some of these ideas to make sure she isn’t just bored.

  • Ration their daily food by hiding it throughout the home to give them a chance to search and use their prey drive to find their food. As we learned in Part 1 of this series, cats have an excellent sense of smell and they will search out for food.  Just keep an eye on your hiding spots to be sure they are actually finding and eating it.  Then, you will know if it’s boredom or if they are losing their appetite for some other reason. 
  • Put their dry kibble and/or treats in a container of some sort or even a paper towel roll or TP roll and let them reach in and get it out. It’s not only fun for them but us as well.  Nothing better than watching a cat jump and roll around, better than TV anyday.
  • Food puzzles – You can find these in your local pet store but you can also make them! Try googling some homemade cat puzzles, lots of great ideas from things you have around the house and maybe some duct tape.
  • Snuffle mats – These are really cool and if you don’t know what they are, go to this site – these are handmade by an amazing small business – http://www.beansnbones.com/product/snuffle-mat/ These are normally made for dogs but are great for cats as well since their food is small and treats as well.  They will love it!
  • Frozen chicken broth or milk – consult your veterinarian before offering the milk, some veterinarians may suggest against it. But, if you freeze chicken broth in an ice cube tray and then put one on a plate for your kitty to lick on, this also offers enrichment to their day.
  • Slow Feeders – they have some mats, some are called lucky mats, that you can put wet food on to offer the kitty enrichment during eating rather than them just gulping it down in one sitting.

Think SIMPLE, you may think it’s really not going to make a difference but it truly does to your kitty, it’s kind of like a human having the same thing to eat day after day and never changing up what we eat or how we eat it.  Think about it, it would be very, very boring!

Cat Prey Drive:

A cat has a natural prey sequence:

1 – Stare

2 – Stalk & Chase

3 – Pounce & Grab

4 – Kill Bite and Bunny kick

A feline’s natural prey are rodents, insects, reptiles and birds.  When looking for toys for them to play with think of these preys. 

  • Try some kicker toys, battery operated interactive toys.
  • Interactive wand toys that you can play with them like one called Da Bird. You can get a 3’ or 6’ wand with a string that you can change the attachments on – there are feather attachments, birds, mice, rats, items made of deer fur, insect lures, cat charmer and worm teasers. How cool is that?  You can just switch out the toys for playtime. 
  • For shy, slow or senior cats – Try a cat charmer fleece wand, cat dancer cardboard, wire toy with long peacock feather or fuzzy worms.
Martini the cat and our owner Kelly

Cat sitting at Martini’s house is so fun

How WE can help as a pet sitter:

One thing about cats that most of us know is that they get stressed when their routine changes.  It’s sometimes hard to see this stress but knowing your cat, even the slightest change can bring the stressers out.  Which is where we as kitty sitters can swoop in and help!  The social interaction is the most important piece.  Social kitties are usually first to meet us at the door and we love that.  We talk to them and pet and scratch them, we can also provide brushing.  

Some kitties aren’t interested in making new friends.  From what we have found, we can develop a relationship over time with them if they want to accept us.  And, we are happy to try anything. 

We suggest leaving their toys out, allowing us to play with them, we can provide enrichment in all of the ways we have spoken of in this blog series.  And, we are happy to provide this service as part of our cat sits.  Sometimes, if your kitty is shy and just wants to observe us, we are happy to talk to them and even read a children’s book to them to allow them to get used to our voice and our mannerisms.  We allow them to get to know us at their pace. 

But, if they want to play, we just ask our clients to let us know where the toys are, we love to play.  We can also set up some tents for them to play in while we are away.  We can also provide feeding enrichment for them after playtime to give them something to do while we are not visiting.  We always put away and toys that aren’t suggested to be left out with kitties unsupervised such as wand toys or bags that have handles that they could get caught up in while at home alone.  Safety first is very important to us.

Just to sum up our series, in two words…Enrichment Matters!  Feline Enrichment allows for expression of natural behaviors and helps to reduce stress.  Providing enrichment for your kitty can build a lasting and positive relationship and help to avoid any negative behaviors. 

There are so many great ideas here to offer your indoor kitty cat.  Just pick a few and see what they think.  Providing enrichment for them is a gift.  As we all know, staying in the house a lot can make us want to climb the walls.  So, if your cat is doing that or using destructive behavior or are just bored, it’s time to provide them with some enrichment to spice up their lives!

Thanks so much for tuning in to our Feline Enrichment series!  I have truly enjoyed providing this series to you.  Please let me know what you think and if you have any questions!

Kelly Catlett

PROUD owner of Waggs 2 Whiskers

Medicine Hat
Ferragamo getting his belly brushed

Feline Enrichment Series Part 1

Kitties sunning

Cat's Basic Nature

 

We here at Waggs 2 Whiskers have been BUSY CATS during this pandemic!  We have been taking advantage of as many trainings as we can push into our brains.  One in particular REALLY put us over the edge about Feline Behaviors & Enrichment.  It was an amazing webinar put on by our wonderful Pet Sitters International (PSI).  They are awesome providing many opportunities for continuing education for their members. 

This is going to be a 4 part blog series (YES….it was THAT GOOD).  The webinar was graciously put on by Dr. Marci Koski of Feline Behavior Solutions.  We are going to break down what we learned into 4 parts for this series:

1 – Cat’s Basic Nature

2 – Feline Environment, Enrichment & the benefits

3 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines – part 1

4 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines – part 2 + prey drive/toy suggestions

So, lets get started!

Cat’s Basic Nature –

First, did YOU know that cat’s domestication with humans has been only 10,000 years VS. 30,000 years of canine domestication with humans?  Wow, right?  That just blew our mind.  No WONDER dogs are naturally more personal with their owners than most cats.  I know there definitely are those cuddly, lovey exceptions to this general rule.  Why do you think this is?  Well, for one, most of the feline relationships with humans in the beginning of their domestication was hands off.  Felines were used for rodent control in food stores and also on ships. 

Cats are very similar to their wild ancestors as they are both predator and prey, they are programmed for survival.  In the wild, cats hunt & eat, eliminate waste, avoid being eaten, sleep, secure their territory, mate, raise young, play & learn.

How do they do this you ask?  Check out the photo below of a feline’s pheromone distribution areas.

cat pheromone areas

1 – Weaponry – Their teeth are made for gripping and shredding meat, not to grind like humans.  Their claws retract for running, climbing & capturing prey. 

2 – Excellent sense of smell – Cats have 200 million scent receptors compared to dogs at 300 million and humans at a mere 6 million. 

3 – Paw Pads – Felines leave scent from their glands on their paw pads through scratching to mark their territory.  They leave visual marks as well.

4 – Feline hearing – Cats have 55 Hz (Hertz) -77,000  kHz (kilohertz) of frequency, which is a very broad width of frequencies.  Humans have 31-19000 Hz, Dogs are 64-44,000 Hz, Rabbits hear between 96-49000 Hz, Mice are from 900-79000 kHz, Bats are 10,300-115,000 kHz.  As an FYI since I had to look it up to understand this frequency system via Wikipedia & techtarget.com:

The hertz (symbol: Hz, definition: 1/s) is a unit derived from time which measures frequency in the International System of Units (SI). Frequency is how often something happens. A frequency of 1 hertz means that something happens once a second.

The kilohertz, abbreviated kHz or KHz*, is a unit of alternating current (AC) or electromagnetic (EM) wave frequency equal to one thousand hertz (1,000 Hz). The unit is also used in measurements or statements of signal bandwidth. An AC signal having a frequency of 1 kHz is within the range of human hearing.

5 – Vision – Humans have 10-12 times more cones than cats which allows us the ability to detect color.  Cats can’t see red nor can they see well in bright light.  Hence the reason for our nighttime kitty cats that like to prowl at night.  For cats, blue, yellow & green items are best if you are choosing toys for them.  Black & white also work well for them.  Cats have 6-8 times more rods than humans.  This gives them the excellent vision at night which allows them to be more active at dawn & dusk.  Cats have a wider field of vision than humans but don’t see that well 8-10” from their face.  At long range – about 20’ – cats don’t see very well either. 

Another FYI – Rods are responsible for vision at low light levels (scotopic vision). They do not mediate color vision, and have a low spatial acuity. Cones are active at higher light levels (photopic vision), are capable of color vision and are responsible for high spatial acuity.  – via https://www.cis.rit.edu/

This is all GREAT info if you have a cat, either indoor or outdoor.  It helps us to look at our feline friends in a more understanding way!  Next week on our blog, we will be continuing this conversation by expanding on our cat’s environments and enrichment tools to help them co-exist in our homes with us as a predator and prey animal.  We have a lot of exciting ideas to keep your kitty cats from getting bored – especially if they are strictly indoor kitties.  Check back next Monday when we post our next blog in this Feline series – Feline Environment, Enrichment & the benefits.   Thanks for learning with us!    

Kelly Catlett

PROUD owner of Waggs 2 Whiskers, LLC

Doc Watson the cat

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