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What Makes Cats Happy? A Guide to Feline Enrichment

What makes cats happy? Predominately independent and sometimes even a little standoffish, cats can be difficult to please.

It can be hard to determine what makes cats happy completely on your own, and the not knowing brings unnecessary stress into the home.

If you’re struggling with making sure that your cat is happy, check out our guide to making a better life for you and your cat.

A Good Night’s Sleep

Knowing the signs of a happy cat is key to taking the next steps to giving your cat a more enriched life. Content cats sleep for about 10 to 16 hours per day, mostly at night. They wake up early and set out in search of food. Breakfast, if you will! They appear bright, alert, active, and solicit attention from their owners. They also interact positively with each other in the case of multi-pet homes. Through the morning, they play and enjoy social activities, perhaps resting briefly between events.

Cats will often siesta around noontime, getting into the proverbial catnap mode, preparing for the next bout of fervent activity. Increased activity becomes apparent as the late afternoon approaches into early evening, with the excitement of returning family members and mealtimes. The various actions and interactions that occur at this time are engaged in with interest and joy. Eyes are bright, ears are swiveling, and tails are high. A quieter late evening period ensues with contented animals enjoying each others’ company or seeking out and staying close to their human caregivers for company. Cats may solicit petting and purr. All the world is at peace.

Bring Happiness to Your Home

Knowing the best products to create the ultimate home environment for your cat will make it easy to ensure a cheerful feline. Cats are kept indoors for a number of reasons, most relating to health and safety. The most common reasons include minimizing their exposure to outdoor dangers, traumas, and toxins. Cats that are kept exclusively indoors live, on average, at least twice as long as outdoor cats.

Although the indoor environment may be safer, it may not interesting to a curious cat. It is important to create an environment that is enriched, stimulating, and helps supplement what cats normally would get outside.

Make sure you have an adequate number of properly-sized litter boxes. You should have at least one box per cat PLUS one. They should be cleaned or scooped daily, litter changed monthly, and boxes replaced twice a year. They should also be in a location where your cat feels safe using the box and away from high traffic areas and dogs. Good litter box hygiene is a must for cats! You should use the texture and type of litter that appeals to your cat.

Building the Right Environment

Understanding cat behavior is a huge help to knowing what cats need to feel happy within their homes. Certain factors of what cats engage in on a daily basis reveal what can benefit them best. Take a closer look at how your cat acts to know what you need in your house.

Cats, especially indoor cats, need stimulation and recreation to maintain their good mental health. This is often referred to as “environmental enrichment” or “environmental enhancements.”

So, what does that mean exactly? It means that for some cats to be “happy” and to minimize behavioral problems of indoor cats or multi-cat environments, it is important that your cat have plenty of toys, places to hide, perch, and sleep, places or things to “scratch,” things to “watch,” and opportunities to play. It’s also important that cats have a place that they perceive as safe to eat, drink, and eliminate.

This can be accomplished by providing an environment with cat trees, perches, bags, beds, toys, and trusted spots to sleep, eat, and use the litter box.

Crush Boredom

If your cat isn’t as happy as you would like, the problem could be that your cat is simply bored. Better than being unhappy but still a problem, boredom is an easy fix by adding things to your home with your cat in mind.

Consider your home environment. Is it cat friendly? Are there lots of things for your cat to do, play with, and watch? Consider the things cats enjoy and whether or not you have them in your home. Evaluating your cats’ environment can make a big difference to their level of happiness.

The most important thing you can do to prevent boredom in your cat is to make sure the environment is stimulating. This means an environment with things to do — windows to look out of, things to watch, places to climb, and safe toys to play with. Climbing posts, scratching posts, cat grass, windows perches, window beds, and a view of birds or squirrels to watch are all great ways to enrich your cats live and prevent boredom. A stimulating environment is very important for a happy cat.

A Deeper Understanding

The key to what makes cats happy is being aware that cats have needs that must be met. By having the correct environment, your cat can have a more positive attitude.

Many behavioral problems in cats are due to their pet parents not understanding their basic needs. Simply put, indoor cats don’t experience the same things that outside cats do, and it’s a much bigger issue than just simple boredom.

Part of our job as responsible cat owners is to understand that cats experience natural desires to scratch, stretch, perch, hunt, and fulfill their prey drive. Your cat may be inside and completely safe from harm, but this doesn’t take away her instinct to do the things she needs to do to feel secure and comfortable in her home. Cats that can’t fulfill these basic requirements end up being bored or frustrated, which can result in problems with their mental and physical health.

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