So, you have a domestic feline at home and you want to make it as happy as possible? Providing for a pet who has its own personality and charm is one of the most satisfying parts of the relationship. You can learn to keep your pet as happy and healthy in life as possible.
Stereotypes about cats and their personalities abound – Calicos are exuberant, Orange Tabbys are laid back. The Cat Fanciers’ Association has even drawn up a personality chart for the breed. The problem with stereotypes is that when you examine an individual, they tend to be wrong as often as they are right.
Enter the science. Research into the personality types of cats seems to be the topic of the day. The Daily Mail reports that a review including “interviews” with north of 200 cats and their proprietors, led by Dr Lauren Finka of the University of Lincoln in England, uncovers that cats have just five character types. These personalities develop as a result of “a complex interplay between each cat’s genetics and its experiences during development and in adulthood,” the article says. Quote: The human-cat is generally happy to share your home, your life and often your personal space.
The hunter cat has the most feral personality, interacts regularly with realistic cat toys and shows signs of being an experienced hunter.
You can identify a hunting cat by its willingness to play with and groom its furry companions, touching noses and rubbing against each other.
The hunting cat is more easily frustrated than its four conspecifics and may be less tolerant of handling, as it is quite sensitive to touch, to its environment, and is on alert.
The inquisitive cat can be a keen investigator, sniffing out anything unfamiliar.
Scientists from the University of South Australia took a different approach and used a questionnaire with 52 personality traits. They analyzed 2,802 cats and identified “a set of five major personality factors”.
Cat owners who answered the survey’s personality test questions were given a “cat personality report”. These reports “described their cat’s personality profile and gave indications of how this information could be used to make decisions about managing the cat”. Here is what their general suggestions looked like:
Cats with high scores can benefit from hiding places in the house. You may also want to consider whether there is anything in your cat’s environment that is stressful to him.
Low scores may indicate that your cat is well adapted to its environment.
Cats with high scores may benefit from extra toys and playtime.
Low-scoring cats are rare but may show signs of ageing or related health problems.
High-scoring cats may have difficulty getting along with other cats, either at home or in the neighbourhood.
Low-scoring cats may adapt well to a multi-cat household.
For high-scoring cats, ask yourself if your cat is reacting to any stressful elements in its environment.
Low-scoring cats may reflect the fact that they are well adapted to their environment and may enjoy routine.
Cats with a high score may adapt well to other people and animals in the household.
Low scoring cats may have a solitary nature or be poorly socialised.
Here are 5 tips to make your cat happy:
#1: Make mealtime more interesting
Feral cats must hunt for food, which is mentally and physically challenging. There are several ways to make mealtime more stimulating for your cat. My favourite method is to hide healthy treats or spoonfuls of dry food in different parts of the room. I remember where I hid the food so I can check later to make sure he found it. Once the food is hidden, I let my cat into the room, and as we do this every morning, he instinctively runs and starts to ‘hunt’.
I also like to buy interactive food and kibble dispensers. The cat has to solve problems to get to his meal. My favourite is the SlimCat from PetSafe, which is a ball with holes in it that fills with dry food. When you push it with your paws and nose, the food falls out. It slows down their feeding rate and provides both entertainment and exercise.
Not only does regular grooming keep your cat’s coat healthy, prevent felting, and reduce the amount of hair that ends up all over the house or as a hairball, but it also gives you the opportunity to bond with your cat. Many cats like to be groomed, especially when they are young, and they enjoy the attention and cuddles that come with a brushing session. If you and your cat have a close bond, don’t be surprised if she tries to brush you too!
I recommend getting fishing rod type toys, as they drive most cats crazy. These are usually a fishing pole with a snake, bird or mouse at the end, which you can drag across the floor or fly through the air. Really encourage your cat to run around, release his pent-up energy and pounce on his victim so he can express his inner hunter.
While no one knows for sure whether cats need grass or not, it’s good that they at least have the option to eat it if they want to. Grass contains fibre, which can aid digestion, and the roughage can help to pass swallowed hair from grooming through their digestive tract. Grass can also induce vomiting, which can help cats expel hairballs. Although cats cannot digest grass, beneficial vitamins and minerals may escape from its juices. Some cats just seem to enjoy the sweet, crunchy taste of the grass! You can buy it already grown or grow it yourself.
Follow the “1 each, plus 1” rule, which means that each cat should have its own litter box, and you should also have a spare. Make sure the litter box is in a quiet place, away from where they eat. Although the litter tray needs to be cleaned every day, buy a spacious tray so that they don’t have to walk on the old litter when they use it. Ideally, it should also have a lid for a little extra privacy. Most cats prefer an unscented, fine-grained litter.
When it comes to litter boxes, follow the “1 each, plus 1” rule. Cats mark their territory by scratching, thanks to scent glands on their paws. So don’t expect them to share the same scratching post. Since claws are a way of marking territory, make sure the scratching post isn’t hidden in a corner, as they may not use it. Cats like to stretch when they scratch, so make sure the scratching post is high. They also like things that offer some resistance when they scratch. So your location should be solid. You can also rub catnip on it to stimulate their interest.