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Feline Cabin Fever

February 1, 2015

Is your kitty doing the "kitty crazies"? Running through the house like its tail is on fire? Jumping up and down off of high surfaces several times and convincing you that she might be able to run around the room on the walls, rather than the floor? Everyone needs stimulation, including your indoor "wild beast". Here are some ideas that may help.

Cats love and need to hunt and kill for their meals. Treat dispenser toys and puzzle toys can be great for this. Also, if you want to learn how to make your own origami treat ball cat toys, go to www.temptationstreats.com under the Fun & Games tab. If you have kids, this is a great way to occupy them and involve them in the proper care of your cat.

I recommend doubling your play time with the kitties. If you aren't playing with them at all, then it is time to start. You will find that you and your cat will both relax and feel less cooped up. There is a endless supply of toys to be found at pet stores, grocery stores, as well as discount stores. Pick out 2 or 3 different ones and see what your kitty likes best. Don't be surprised if she insists that you play with her. Kitties are not as aloof as people say.

You can hang toys, at different heights, by a string to just about anything. Our kitty Lucky endlessly played with a foam Squirtle™ toy tied by a shoelace to one of our key hooks. A client of mine has a baby gate between her kitchen and living room. She ties toys to the top bar with twine, and her cat joyfully destroys them. Take a look around your home and see what works best for you.

Then there's the old standby – The Box. If you have ever watched Maru videos, you know that cats cannot resist them. Just pull out a box or two. If you are lucky enough to have a long box, open both ends, and you have an instant cat tunnel. Throw a few catnip toys inside for good measure.

Cats are similar to humans in that they get bored with their toys, so get some new toys. Then, put "boring" toys that have been out for a while into a sealable plastic bag with some catnip and put them away where kitty cannot get them. After a week my cats think they have found a gold mine when I pull these fabulous "new" toys out.

Cat perches are super! Cats love to climb and observe their world from lots of different heights and locations. Give each cat in your home at least 2-3 different perches. If you have 3 cats like we do, they should have 6-9 different places to go to look down at you. A great location is near windows so they can observe and interact with the world in which they live. The more area your cat can see, the larger their domain. The larger their domain, the happier the cat. Place a bird feeder outside the window near the perch,  and you have created kitty nirvana. One caution, though, if the window is where other neighborhood kitties have access outside, this can stress your cat and cause it become destructive, by clawing and spraying (marking its territory) in that area.

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When you are moving things around, putting up or taking down decorations, have you noticed that your cat is always right there, possibly even under foot? Cats are stimulated by change in their surroundings. You can easily spice up their day by moving things around the house. You can move a waste basket, clothes basket or even their food dishes. This sparks their curiosity and gets them moving.

A vigorous rub or tickle, depending on your cat's preferences, can go a long way toward giving them a burst of energy that they will run through the house to wear off. Once they do this, they are relaxed and ready for a snuggle or a nap. Also, grooming is a way to bond with, and give your cat, some distraction and is relaxing for both of you. You can even do this while watching your favorite TV show.

Walk around the house dragging a shoestring or something similar behind you. This gets you moving, and it is often irresistible to kitties. You have to let the kitties catch it once in a while, otherwise they will become frustrated. Also, the "villainous" Dot (a laser pointer dot) is great fun for the feline hunter. You can get them running, jumping up walls to get it, even stalking it at times. Some cats prefer it to go in a straight line, others like it zig zagging all over the place. Some want to chase it on carpet, while other silly ones love to slide dramatically on the floor when going full bore after it. This is great stimulation and exercise, however, I don't recommend using it for more than 10-15 minutes at a time, and don't play with it every day. Kitties can become obsessive about the Dot. Also, some cats don't know when to stop, so if you notice your cat panting or getting overly excited, it is time to put it away.

I hope these ideas help you and your kitty enjoy what remains of this cold Winter. If you have other suggestions, please share them with us.

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