More than half of cats in the United State live indoors. While cats restricted to indoor living have a reduced risk for vehicular trauma, predation, aggressive interactions with cats and other animals, and exposure to infectious diseases, indoor living is not without risks. Cat behaviorists believe that keeping cats indoors may contribute to numerous increased risks such as certain physical illnesses and behavior problems such as house soiling. Indoor cats are prone to boredom which leads to anxiety. In addition 58% of cats in America are obese.
In fact, a monotonous and overly predictable environment is physiologically and psychologically stressful. Fo a cat to be healthy and happy, his/her environmental and social needs must be met. While the vast majority of indoor cats receive adequate provisions such as food and water, a suitable living environment, prompt access to veterinary care, and protection from conditions likely to cause them fear and stress, many of them do not have the ability to express their natural behaviors and suffer as a consequence.
Normal cat behaviors include play, investigation, observation, hunting, feeding, drinking, grooming, scratching, traveling, scent marking, eliminating, resting, and sleeping. Although this list sounds very basic take a moment to think about it. Are there any behaviors which your cat does not have the opportunity to experience? Let me guess…..did you answer hunting?
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Something has gone terribly wrong with the way that our cats obtain their food. However, it’s not necessarily our fault as pet owners. It just sort of happened. Our cats receive food with minimal effort. Owners like to see their cats eat and may interpret inquisitive, verbal or rubbing cues from their cat as a sign of hunger and a request to be fed. So what do we do? We reward such actions with food, often an overly generous pour of food. This is true love and care, right? We give them what we would want.
However, in doing so, we reinforce the cat’s behavior, and at the same time deny them their natural instincts. We inadvertently train cats to ask for food (and possibly those little cat treats that come in the bags that when opened make a distinct crinkling noise sending your cats dashing for kitchen. You know what I mean!) In a way, our cats train us to respond to their boredom or other unmet needs by over-feeding them. Over time, this pattern can result in overweight cats because they eat too much and their food is calorie-dense. Obesity is a huge problem in cats and is one of the increased risks associated with living strictly indoors. According to a 2015 survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 58.2% of US cats were overweight or obese.
“What can I do,” you wonder? Give your cat the opportunity to fulfill his/her natural instincts. Environmental enrichment, specifically, feeding enrichment is the answer! You can optimize the indoor lifestyle of your cat by providing him/her with opportunities to hunt and play with their food before eating it! In fact, providing opportunity for play and predatory behavior happens to be one of the five pillars of a healthy feline environment according to the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the International Society of Feline Medicine. Cats should be able to engage in all aspects of the predatory sequence: locating, stalking, chasing, pouncing, killing, preparing, and eating their prey. In a household situation, this translates into pseudo-predatory play and feeding behaviors. Inhibiting or failing to provide cats with opportunities for predatory-type behaviors can result in obesity or boredom and frustration that can express itself as over-grooming, stress-associated disease or misdirected aggressive behavior.
Cats should spend a high percentage of time hunting for thier food, so why not provide puzzle feeders and hide food in several places in your home? Feeding your cat an appropriate amount of food in small portions throughout the day and night will help your cat to maintain a healthy weight. The NoBowl Feeding System does just that! It promotes locomotion associated with prey localization, the cognitive sitmulation associated with the capute and play with prey, and provides small and frequent meals that a cat's metabolism thrives on. The NoBowl Feeding System is a portion-controlled puzzle feeder that not only allows cats to hunt to find their food, it adds to your cat’s joy and fulfillment. The hunt is exercise in disguise! Cats that have a healthy body weight live longer lives. By maintaining a healthy weight, your cat reduces its risks of diabetes, heart disease and joint pain. Order The NoBowl Feeding System for your cat today! http://nobowlcat.com/shop
Stay tuned to our next blog that will discuss how much and how frequently cats really do need to eat and more on the benefits of incorporating puzzle feeders into your cat’s daily feeding regimen. To receive an email when this blog is posted, sign up at the orange button below.
Scherk M. Optimizing an indoor lifestyle for cats. Veterinary Focus. 2016;26(2):1-9. http://www.fvah.ca/files/2016/08/vf-26-2-en-1-1.pdf
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Ellis S. Environmental enrichment: practical strategies for improving feline welfare. J Feline Med Surg. 2009;11:901-912. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/38037189
Ellis S, Rodan I, Carney HC, et al. AAFP and ISFM feline environmental needs guidelines. J Feline Med Surg. 2013;15:219-230. http://jfm.sagepub.com/content/15/3/219