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Positive Cat Parenting™

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS

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Quality of Life Issues - Environmental Enrichment 


What is it?

Cats rely on their human family to meet their physical, mental, and emotional needs. An enriched environment provides both mental and physical exercise, lowers the cat's stress, and prevents many potential behavior problems. Reducing stress makes it easier for your cat to learn new behaviors.

Enrich the environment before starting any behavior modification or training program to assure your cat's basic needs are being met.

What to do

Predictability: Develop somewhat of a routine time for feeding, training, playtime, and grooming. Establish your own routine of scooping the litter box each morning and evening. Make nightly television or reading time - quality lap time.

Novelty:
As much as cats enjoy a routine, make small regular changes in the environment to teach coping skills and to prevent boredom. Change bedding. Rotate toys. Arrange new climbing areas. Provide different size boxes and brown paper bags to explore. Hide treats around the house. Provide dry food in food puzzles.

Social time:
  Cats relish social interaction, mental stimulation, and companionship. Allow your cat to simply "hang out" with you. Cats enjoy being the center of attention. Sit with your cat while she eats. Talk to her and gently stroke her during meals. Gently brush your cat to remove dead fur and reduce shedding. Stimulate games using chase-type toys. Teach your cat to come and sit on cue for treats.

Cleanliness:
A cat must have written, "Cleanliness is next to godliness."  Clean bedding often. Wash food and water dishes daily. Keep litter box scooped clean. Dump old litter and replace with new litter monthly.  Replace the litter box annually.
 

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