|Cagey Cats – Confining Cats in Comfort
Is your cat being belted up by the local moggie – the gnashing neighbourhood nasty?
Or are you concerned because you live near a main road and your cat likes playing ‘chicken’ with the local hotrod? Perhaps your cat is attacking the local wildlife and you are having trouble stopping it from doing so. Well, the solution to all the above could be to confine your cat to your house or yard. While that’s easy to do with dogs, achieving the same with cats is not so easy. To confine your cat, the approach I advise is the creation of a Fantastic Feline Fun Park
Where can I confine my cat?
It can difficult, although not impossible to consider enclosing your whole yard. However, some cat owners are successful in confining their cats to a room or two inside the house while others choose to allow their cats to roam the whole house but do not allow them outside. However, most cats will be happier if their housing includes a ‘Fantastic Feline Fun Park’ on a balcony or veranda, or in a purpose built ‘Fun Park’ in the back yard. What your cat really wants is a semi-outside area where, via a cat door, it can have access to you and an outside environment, without becoming totally free. This is the theme of a Fantastic Feline Fun Park. New products on the market make the construction of an enclosure even easier. The Cat Nip system is constructed of modular cages and the Cat Max system is built from soft, but strong, nylon netting that is flexible enough to enclose anything from verandas to whole garden areas, including the trees!
Cats don’t need aerobic exercise to the same extent as dogs. In fact, unlike dogs, cats mostly exercise isometrically rather than aerobically – that is, by stretching, jumping and climbing rather than running long distances. Most cat owners will vouch for the fact that cats are down right lazy and will sleep 90 percent of the time. When they are active, they are often intensely so, but for only a short period. By being wise and cunning, you will easily cater for this ‘wind in the tail’ time, while still keeping your cat in its Fun Park.
|How Do I Ensure My Cat is Happy in Its Fantastic Feline Fun Park? Once you have given your cat areas for feeding, resting, toileting and exploration and have added regular stimulation, change and challenge you have given all that’s needed to make your cat happy. Cats need elevation rather than length. They are superior creatures and enjoy looking down on their world from lofty heights. A Fun Park should therefore be at least two metres high and have a minimum floor area of 2.5 square metres. Resting areas are important and you should provide several at different levels. These can be hammock beds attached to the walls of the Fun Park, perhaps made from shade cloth, or can be wooden shelves covered with pieces of carpet. If you can spare it, cats love wool to sleep on and adore sheepskin. They will particularly like to sleep on your black woollen dinner suit or evening gown, but this might be going a bit far. You will find carpeted climbing, sleeping, scratching and resting units in most pet shops. A pigeonhole-style shelf unit is an ideal sleeping and exploration area for cats. You should cut holes in the partitions between each pigeonhole so that Puss can explore from one to the other. Cover some pigeonholes but provide ‘peep’ holes in them, and leave some open. You can further satisfy your cat’s need for exploration by making an ‘arboreal aerobic area’. Do this by placing a thick, branched tree trunk against one corner of the Fun Park. Choose one with vertically striated bark to stimulate claw sharpening. Strategically placed branches will help your cat use the tree as a climbing frame. Arrange it so that it spans across to the sleeping hammocks and the pigeonhole play area. Add some carpet to the trunk to help your cat to learn that the trunk is a scratching post (some cats prefer using carpet to bark).
If you want your cat to like being in its Fun Park, there is no better way than to feed it there. Still, you can do more than just throwing it a bowl of food. As well as its normal diet, hide tidbits of food in the various levels of the Fun Park. Hidden food treats such as dry cat biscuits or freeze-dried fish, quartered, tasty vitamin tablets, or pieces of kabana in limited quantities stimulate the need to hunt. Raw chicken wings or chicken necks are wonderful for cat’s teeth and fit well with this theme too. Just be sure that the tidbits do not add excessively to your cat’s caloric intake. For another idea, cut the end off a two-litre plastic milk bottle, throw away the base and keep the end with the cap. Smear vegemite, Anchovette fish paste or liverwurst in the cap and screw the cap back in place. Puss will have fun sticking its head inside the bottle trying to lick the smeared treats.
Giving your cat two litter trays will cater for its toileting needs. I prefer to place small amounts of litter in two separate trays rather than a large amount in just one tray. Using this method, the cat has another tray to use in case the first is dirty. Some cats will soil outside the tray when it is dirty and provision of two often solves this problem. Having two trays also allows you to experiment with two types of litter to find out which your cat prefers. You can also purchase litter tray ‘hutches’ if you prefer not to have the litter visible, or if you wish to control any odour that the trays may produce.
For some added excitement and change, consider placing a small pond in the Fun Park with a fountain in it. Cats will often find this fascinating and will play with the splashing water. Adding fish is not advisable, as they will usually not last long. Speaking of fish, an aquarium with a secure lid is often a very useful addition. Cats will watch the fish for hours just like kids watching television but the lid will keep the fish safe. Confined cats are the way of the future. Consider your options now and keep your puss safe, happy and content.