Hey, it’s me—your cat. We need to talk. Although I appreciate the safety and security of living only indoors, I’m rather unfulfilled. And, while I know you might think that’s laughable—after all, I’m only a cat—you should know two things:
- Feline stress can lead to chronic health and behavior problems, including urinary disorders, anxiety, and destructive behavior.
- I know where you sleep at night.
Only kidding. Despite appearances, cats don’t act out of spite—we only make it look that way.
To help me organize my requests, the Driftwood Animal Hospital team agreed to transcribe my thoughts into this handy How-To Guide for Feline Happiness.
Let me scratch—provide cat-friendly scratching opportunities
I know, I know—the leather couch was supposed to be off-limits. But where else can I sink in my claws for a good healthy scratch? What you see as vandalism is actually a natural and necessary practice for cats. Scratching allows me to stretch my entire body from my toes to my tail, sharpens my nails to improve climbing, and removes dead nail layers to improve nail health. Scratching is also one of the ways I communicate with the world, by leaving my trademark scent (i.e., pheromones) on objects I wish to claim or find confusing.
I’d prefer that you place my scratching post or mat near my favorite spots, and I would love a second post near the window where that pesky squirrel likes to taunt me. I can pretend I’m grabbing him by that ridiculously fluffy tail.
Let me hunt—rethink how you feed your cat
As a natural hunter, seeing my “prey” in kibble or paté form in a bowl seems a bit insulting. Where’s the fun—or the bragging rights—in that? This kind of easy win is totally uninspiring—and makes me want to turn up my nose or, worse, eat out of boredom. Both reactions can be costly, because while you are searching high and low for a food I’ll eat, I could develop obesity-related health problems, such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, cancer, or heart disease.
Now, I’m not looking for the unpredictable feast-or-famine wild cat kind of menu—I do like knowing that my food is guaranteed. I’m asking for something that challenges my mighty hunter within. Some suggestions include:
- Feeding me several small meals per day rather than one large meal
- Placing my food inside a food-dispensing toy that moves unpredictably—the next best thing to prey, since you won’t bring a real mouse or bird inside the house
- Hiding my dry food throughout a room—or in these fun toys—so I have to track down each piece
- Smearing wet food on a paper plate that I must “chase” as it slides on the floor or spreading the food across a silicone pot holder that I have to lick to get the food out of all the nooks and crannies
Let me climb—cats seek elevated spaces for safety and play
I have an innate need to know what’s going on at all times—like that weird neighbor across the street. Elevated perches and hiding places are key to this exercise, so please don’t shame me for scaling your wardrobe or summiting the refrigerator. Instead, consider offering me some cat-friendly furniture that lets me watch your every move. Don’t you want your stalker to be comfortable? Some suitable options include:
- Window perches
- Cat trees, or a scratching post with a platform
- Free-standing furniture (e.g., shelves, cupboard, wardrobe) with non-slip matting
No matter which options you select—hint, that’s plural—add a soft bed where I can rest. And, please ensure I can get down safely.
I’ll miss that refrigerator though. That big box puts off nice, soft heat. And it purrs.
Let me love you (my way)—interact with your cat every day
Cats as a species aren’t exactly known for requiring much attention. But, our independent nature doesn’t mean we don’t want, or need, positive social interactions—we’re not houseplants, after all. But, before you overcompensate and try to suffocate me with snuggles, let me tell you what I want—I love a little conversation or a few gentle head rubs some days, while I may request a long back scratch or insist on showing you my hind end other days. Whatever I ask, go with it—OK? And, don’t forget to tell me I’m the best cat in the world—I’ll never say “No” to that.
Let me live without stress—create a cat-friendly environment
We’re being honest here, so I can tell you that some days this place really stresses meow-t. Whether it’s the stress hormones on your clothes and skin after work, or my housemate-slash-nemesis telling me when and where I can use the litter box, this place can be a charged-up bug zapper.
Please consider my health! The following adaptations will create a more peaceful environment for everybody—especially me:
- Ensure plentiful resources — You know that panicked feeling when you can’t find a parking space, table, or the bathroom? Me, too. Please ensure we have enough food bowls, toys, beds, and litter boxes for every cat, plus a spare.
- Stay on schedule — If you want to be spontaneous, try improv—but keep my routine the same. I like you better when you’re predictable.
- Avoid sudden changes — If you must change my food or litter box, do so gradually.
- Inspire me with pheromones — If unrest is unavoidable, plug in a Feliway diffuser or spritz my bedding with Feliway spray. These pheromone products can help me feel calm, relaxed, and safe.
Finally, you’ll never guess what makes me the happiest—staying up to date on veterinary care at Driftwood Animal Hospital. I know, I know—I hate visiting the veterinarian, but deep down I know that the healthier I am, the longer I get to spend time with you—and that makes me the happiest cat in the world.
So, let’s start today—schedule my next appointment at Driftwood Animal Hospital. You want me to be happy, right?